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The BBC's John Moylan
"Sony has introduced a new pre-ordering system"
 real 56k

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 00:57 GMT 01:57 UK
PlayStation 2 available - to order
PlayStation 2
Japanese shoppers fought over copies of the new console
Sony is already preparing to take orders in high street stores for its new games console, the PlayStation 2.

The company, whose PlayStation has sold 73 million units, says ordering in advance is the only way to ensure getting the console - which will not be launched until November - in time for Christmas.

Sceptics have suggested that the move is an elaborate marketing ploy designed to boost demand.

UK customers can put down a 25 deposit for the much-hyped game from Thursday.

Sony has said it believes PlayStation 2 will prove popular with its stereo-quality sound, spectacular graphics and internet downloads available from 2001.

We want people to be able to get their hands on it as soon as possible

David Wilson
Sony UK

With a 128-bit microprocessor dubbed the "Emotion Engine", it not only offers superb graphics, but also includes a DVD player and can play most of the game titles designed for the first PlayStation.

Thousands queued in Japan to buy the new machine when it was launched there last March, but Sony is keen to avoid the scenes that broke out in some stores as consumers fought over the console.

David Wilson of Sony UK said: "We want people to be able to get their hands on it as soon as possible.

"We don't want to make them endure situations where they are chasing from shop to shop... trying to find who has stock left, arguing and jostling with other potential purchasers. That why we have introduced it."

Rival products

But sceptics claim the registering system ties consumers into a product not due until the end of November and could also deter some from buying a rival console.

Meanwhile, some critics have warned that the new PlayStation may not live up to the hype and that new systems from rival companies due next year could leave PlayStation 2 dead in the water.

It will create massive media interest and can only help in marketing and sales of the product

Gennaro Castaldo, HMV

Sega launched its Dreamcast one year ago, and Microsoft is planning to bring out its X-Box games console next autumn.

Nintendo's GameCube, which promises "superlative graphics and internet access", will also be available in Europe from October 2001.

Unlike the PlayStation 2, it will not be able to play DVDs.

The video game market, which is now reckoned to be larger than the movie industry, has been the subject of intense competition in recent years.

Retailers gearing up for the big launch accept that while Sony's registering system makes sense, it could also stoke demand.

Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said: "Obviously we understand why it has been introduced. It seems the only fair way in which genuine enthusiasts will get hold of a copy. But a fantastic by-product is that it will create massive media interest and can only help in marketing and sales of the product."

Gimmick or not, the pre-ordering system should ensure that when PlayStation 2 launches in November it should break UK records for the largest number of consoles sold in a single day.

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