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PlayStation 3 Arrival Produces Lines, Shortages

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And now let's more on to this serious business news. On Mondays we focus on technology and this story is a tale of new technology and human nature.

Sony says it plans to ship more of its PlayStation 3 before the holidays. That news may have calmed the panic that struck as the videogame system went on sale last week. People stood in long lines, some got into fights, others bid thousands of dollars at auction sites. Former Senator John Edwards got in trouble with one of his aides trying to reserve a PlayStation from Wal-Mart, a company that Edwards has criticized.

NPR's Jack Speer reports.

JACK SPEER: On Friday, the sleek new videogame consoles were selling on eBay for $2,500 a pop, $2,000 over the retail price of a base PS3. But by yesterday, prices had come down substantially. Twenty-four-year-old Mauricio Sotto(ph), his sister and several of their friends were among those who stood in line, braving cold weather and torrential rains to get four of the new videogame consoles, one of which they intent to keep.

Mr. MAURICIO SOTTO: So basically that leaves us three to sell and, you know, make a little bit of money. Make it at least somewhat worth staying out there, you know, through cold, being wet.

SPEER: Sotto was first in line at a Best Buy in Rockville, Maryland three days before the new Sony PlayStation even went on sale. He says he regrets not selling the PS3s he got right away, but was wary of some of the offers he got.

Mr. SOTTO: Some people have offered me a good amount, but they sounded kind of sketchy. I'd rather play it safe and lose a few hundred. I mean, in the end I'm still going to profit.

SPEER: Just not perhaps as much as if he'd taken advantage of the first day hysteria surrounding the new PlayStation. But as a pops a game into the machine, hooked up to a 50-inch screen with surround sound, he says getting the new PS3 was worth it.

Mr. SOTTO: People shooting behind you, you'll hear it. You'll hear the bullet coming from behind you.

SPEER: Sotto blames Sony for some of the hysteria over the new videogame. He thinks the electronics maker purposely limited its initial research in North America to 400,000 PS3s.

Mr. SOTTO: You create a bigger hype by creating a shortage. And with eBay, especially. I mean that thing is almost like a stock market thing. You see, you know, you got your supply and demand at work and you can see it in dollars.

SPEER: Which is one reason, Sotto figures, even if Sony does ship more PS3s over the next several weeks, the hysteria isn't likely to die down. And he says with three other machines in his possession, that still leaves he and his friends in a good position to profit ahead of the holidays.

Jack Speer, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jack Speer
Jack Speer is a newscaster at NPR in Washington, DC. In this role he reports, writes, edits, and produces live hourly updates which air during NPR programming.