PS3 launch frenzy

Parties, dentists, losses and robberies at launch

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After days of hungry, shivering gamers lining up at their local shops - and then being shooed away by sadistic Best Buy management - Sony's next-gen console has landed amid a flurry of cruel crowd-baiting, bean-counting eBay auctioneers and, just maybe, an army of satisfied gamers who'll still be thumbing their SixAxis pads this time Monday morning.

Like last year's Xbox 360 launch, a surreal, apocalyptic air has been hanging around ever since a carload of Kentucky jokers performed a BB-gun drive-by yesterday on a line of hopeful gamers lined up like sitting ducks, winging a news reporter in the process. And Sony didn't help matters much by goading line-sitters into a near-bloodlust by staging a dramatic delivery in San Francisco... with empty boxes.

Retailer Best Buy anticipated madness and decided it'd be a good idea to ban anyone from lining up outside for reasons of safety. This YouTube video illustrates their inspired alternative. But, as misjudged as a full-tilt midnight dash sounds, it could have been much worse - as this second clip demonstrates to disturbing effect. It's Precinct 13-meets-Dead Rising-meets-The End of the World.

Above: The scene last night at the Metreon, the San Francisco shopping center which is home to the PlayStation Store - and massive PS3 launch excitement

So, given the worryingly real danger of actual in-the-line-of-buyer bodily harm, you can understand why one dentist hired a crack line-dwelling team of 60 people to do his waiting for him. At least he was trying to buy the consoles for himself - there's something deeply saddening about Kotaku's bloggers discovering a lineful of eBay-using opportunists flanking a single dedicated father looking for a Christmas present.

But, while the horror stories keep coming - robberies, shortages and attempted murder - at least gamers aren't in Sony's shoes. Researcher iSuppli believes that the hardware giant is losing more than $240 on every PS3 sold.

In contrast, just witness the business-like efficiency of Japan's PlayStation 3 unveiling.

November 17, 2006