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The BBC's Jon Kay
"There's a massive demand for PlayStation 2"
 real 28k

The BBC's Juliet Hindell reports from Tokyo:
"Sony expects to sell a million units in the first weekend"
 real 28k

Saturday, 4 March, 2000, 10:24 GMT
PlayStation fever sweeps Japan
tokyo shop
Customers were being limited to one console each
Thousands of excited computer games fans rushed into video game shops in Tokyo on Saturday to get their hands on Sony's latest console, the eagerly-awaited PlayStation2.

Many game fanatics had camped out in the cold for days in the city's Akihabara electronics district to make sure they would be one of the first lucky owners.

Yoshie Kondu, a 20-year old student, was the first customer at the Tsutaya store. She had queued for 16 hours because she wanted the PlayStation2 "really badly". She told the BBC she was going to rush home and play until she fell asleep.

fans camping outside shop
Patient fans camped out for days
"Cold, tired, excited" said US air force enlisted man Dan Champion, describing his emotions as he emerged from another shop clutching a box.

Many fans have already tried out the PlayStation2 at a special event held last month in Tokyo.

The upgraded version of Sony's popular PlayStation1 console has a new computer chip which makes it 100 times more powerful than its predecessor.

This enables it to show games which have much more realistic graphics - depicting for example the movement of hair blowing in the wind in a car racing game, or the sun reflecting off the windshield.

It can also play DVD video discs and music CD's, and will eventually enable users to access the Internet.

Golden Goose

Sony, which holds a dominant 70% share of the global games console market, spent 1 billion dollars developing the PS2.

It expects to sell one million of the consoles in the first weekend, priced at $360 each.

The potential is unbelievable - there's so much you can do with this system

Video games writer
Analysts warn however that the new model could be more of a financial drain than a golden goose for the company.

"Hardware sales will be booming because lots of people will want to have the PS2, but hardware business is basically a loss-making business," says Masashi Kubota, senior electronics analyst at ING Barings.

The PS2 will also face competition from Microsoft, which is said to be making a game machine, and from a new model being produced by rival Nintendo.

Initial reactions from fans however suggest the PS2 will be popular:

This isn't just a game and video machine

Koichiro Katsurayama, Sony
"In gaming terms, this is up there with the invention of the steam engine" said Steven Kent, a video-games writer from Seattle.

Koichiro Katsurayama of Sony Computer Entertainment says the PS2 isn't simply a game and video machine:

"In the future we want it to become an entrance to a broad-band network which will be the centre of home entertainment" he told the BBC.

The PlayStation2 is due to be released in the United States and Europe in the autumn.

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