North American-bound PS3 Sells Out in Japan

Retailers across Japan report the long-awaited and oft-delayed PlayStation 3 game console from Sony sold briskly upon its release last weekend, as expected, although a total of only about 100,000 units were shipped within Japan, also as expected.

Sony said it sold 88,400 units in the first 48 hours, wiping out the stocks of many stores, according to Reuters. At our deadline, Sony was still planning to get its PS3 on shelves in North America by this Friday, Nov. 17; a European launch will not come until March, at the earliest.

Sony was forced to ship far fewer machines that it would have under ideal circumstances after early units ran into some production problems assembling the components for the game console's internal Blu-ray Disc drive. Sony has said the next-gen HD disc drive should help expand the PS3 market beyond video gamers, although Blu-ray's inclusion is necessitating price points a few hundred dollars higher than Microsoft's Xbox 360 (opens in new tab). That unit has been on sale for months and does not come with an internal drive, but an HD DVD drive as an add-on will be offered starting in several days.

A third competitor, Nintendo, plans to release its new Wii on Sunday, Nov. 19, in the United States, and on Saturday, Dec. 2, in Japan. The Wii intentionally does not boast either HD disc format, and therefore, will sell for considerably less than either Xbox 360 or PS3. (Microsoft also plans to introduce its new Core system--a simpler, less expensive version of Xbox 360--on Wednesday, Nov. 22, in North America.)

Meanwhile, Sony has received a growing number of reports of software compatibility glitches in Japan in the few days since its PS3 release. Sony has acknowledged that some audio features do not work on some PS2 game titles when played on the PS3, which is supposed to be compatible for games designed for earlier models. And dozens of PS2 titles do not work on PS3 at all, according to the reports.

Enterbrain, a video games magazine, projects PS3 shipments will reach 4.13 million units by March. It said Sony had originally planned on shipping 6 million units.