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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Sony PSP has its European debut
Image of Sony's PlayStation Portable device
The PSP is billed as a multimedia entertainment device
Hundreds of keen gamers queued outside High Street shops to get their hands on Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) as it went on sale in Europe at midnight.

Major electronics and games shops across the UK opened up at midnight for those who had queued during the day.

Sony expects a million of the gadgets, a games console that plays films and music, and browses the web wirelessly, to be sold before Christmas.

Its European launch was delayed after a supply shortage following its US debut.

The PSP arrived in Europe nine months after it hit Japanese stores and six months after the US.

More than games

"I've been here almost 11 hours but it's worth it because they are really amazing and desirable machines," said one 36-year-old gamer.

"I have a couple of friends who got them from America and I've had a go on them and they really are fantastic."

Some people had queued for 12 hours or more outside stores, but many shops reported they had already sold all of their pre-order allocations of the handheld console.

Nintendo GameBoy Micro

Video games store Game opened 250 of its stores at midnight, and had 1,500 staff dealing with the demand. Dixons opened 20 stores at midnight, but had stopped taking pre-orders last week because of demand.

The PSP hopes to entice a range of people to its wares, but is competing with games giant Nintendo which dominates the handheld console market.

In November, Nintendo releases a new, smaller version of its popular GameBoy device, called the Micro.

But Sony wants to appeal to more than just gamers and sees the PSP as an entertainment device, not just a games machine.

There are more than 30 films already on sale for the device at its European launch, and more titles are on the way. Sony has developed its own discs on which films will be sold, called UMD.

There are also 30 games titles available for its launch, including the critically acclaimed Wipeout Pure and Ridge Racer.

The release of a PSP version of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto, expected in October, could also boost sales.

Crack down

Earlier in the year, some gamers who became frustrated waiting for the delayed European launch of the PSP resorted to buying devices imported from the US or Japan.

Sony cracked down on the market and sued several importers, saying that they infringed Sony's trademark and that it could not guarantee service.

The PSP went on sale in the UK for 179 (249 euros). In the US, it sells for $249 (138) plus tax.

Five million PSPs have been shipped by Sony since its launch in Japan. Sony says it expects 13m to be shipped up to March 2006.

See games on the new Sony PSP

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