Electronics stores in Japan have sold out of PlayStation 3 consoles after thousands of gamers queued for hours in the cold to buy them.
Only 100,000 Sony machines have been made available
Large queues meant some shoppers were turned away even before stores opened at 0700 local time (2100 GMT).
The console officially went on sale on 11 November but Sony only made 100,000 machines available on launch day.
Instead of opening at midnight, stores organised lotteries to decide who in the queue would get a long-awaited PS3.
Outside Bic Camera's flagship Tokyo store more than 1,000 people queued for their chance to buy a PlayStation 3.
Shop attendants with microphones warned impatient customers that sales would end if there were any injuries.
"Standing in line today is the only way to make sure I got one," said Takayuki Sato, 30.
Tomoaki Nakamura, 41, said: "I've been waiting for this day to come for so long. I'll play it all through the weekend. No time for meals."
The head of Sony's game unit head, Ken Kutaragi, known as "the father of the PlayStation", expressed his gratitude to those who had waited.
Sony said 400,000 consoles should be available for the US launch
"I hope you will enjoy the next-generation entertainment to your heart's content," he said.
The company said it would be a few days before they knew whether all retailers had sold out of all their PS3 consoles.
Earlier, bloggers catalogued the numbers of people waiting outside stores.
Brian Ashcraft who toured electronics stores in Tokyo for game blog Kotaku described the scene as "organised chaos".
The BBC News website also received e-mail messages from those queuing outside stores.
The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is being sold in two configurations. The more expensive version has a 60GB hard drive and wi-fi on board and costs, in Japan, 60,000 yen (£270). The cheaper version has a 20GB hard drive, lacks the wi-fi and will cost 49,980 yen (£222). European prices are expected to be higher than direct comparisons suggest.
Both versions include a wireless controller, a Blu-ray high-quality video disc and a port so they can work with a high-definition display. Buying a PS3 also gives owners free access to the online PlayStation Network where they can meet and take on other gamers.
Sony expects five games to be available at launch including Ridge Racer 7, Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight, Genji, and Resistance: Fall of Man.
Like other next-generation consoles the PS3 offers gamers much more detailed graphics than ever before. The IBM-developed Cell chip inside the console uses seven separate processing cores which can be used to make the physics in game worlds more realistic and allow computer-controlled enemies to behave with great sophistication.
"The image quality is so superb you'd almost think it's a real movie," gamer Hisafumi Funato said after trying it out at a demonstration event in downtown Tokyo. "I want one, especially if I don't have to stand in a long line."
The PlayStation 3 was originally supposed to go on sale in early 2006 but production problems and shortages of key components forced a delay. The European launch of the console has been pushed back to March 2007.
This has also meant that there are only 100,000 consoles for gamers in Japan. Sony said 400,000 will be available for the US launch on 17 November. Despite the shortages, Sony said it was confident of shipping six million PS3s by the end of March 2007.
Although Sony has dominated home console gaming since the launch of the first PlayStation in 1994 its lead is under greater threat than ever before. Arch-rival Microsoft released its Xbox 360 console in November 2005. By the end of 2006 Microsoft hopes to have sold about 10 million Xbox 360s.
Also due to launch in November is Nintendo's Wii console which is far cheaper than the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. It goes on sale in the US on 19 November.
Analysts expect Sony to lose money on every console sold for some time to come.
"For all you know, it may take Sony five years to get back the money it's invested in PS3," said Mitsuhiro Osawa, analyst for Mizuho Investors Securities, "even 10 years if it doesn't watch out."
Are you going to be one of the first to get a PlayStation 3? What is its appeal to you? Send us your comments using the form below.
I'm going to try and buy a PS3, just so i can sell it on eBay. The PS3 will not win the console wars, the Wii is pure innovation ( if it works) and the xbox360 is does the same thing the PS3 does, only for less money.
RobO, San Diego, CA
When I first heard about the PS3 I was so excited that I've hardly been able to sleep. Okay, so that's exaggerating a bit, but since Sony has messed about with the European launch date, I have flown all the way to Japan to get my hands on one. I am currently in a Japanese airport with my PS3. I can't wait to get home and play it!
Tim Gregory, London, UK
I really want a PS3 and I'm very disappointed that it's being released next year. We are getting a Nintendo Wii instead for Christmas. I don't think we will get the PS3 straight away though, it's so much money! I am most looking forward to continue the Final Fantasy series with FF13, and to get Singstar. With some luck, the PS3 would come down in price, but I don't see it happening for many years to come!
Gemma Tevendale, Maidstone, Kent
I am in Central Tokyo now. Will be queuing up soon. BIC Camera opens at 7am. Only 100k units for whole of Japan. Not sure I'm going to make it.
Paul Senior, Oxford, UK
I pre-ordered my PS3 about 6 months ago. This gaming machine is clearly going to be one of the best. The late release does not bother me, it gives Sony more time to make it a better console for gamer satisfaction. Just looking at the previews of the games were enough to get me to buy it. Its same style controller as the PS2 is great, considering it is the best, in my opinion, and most comfortable gaming controller made. Sony have always been one step ahead, Microsoft had a slight struggle and Nintendo have bit the dust.
Sam Muller, London, UK
I will definitely be one of the first in the country to get my hands on one of these monster consoles. It appeals to me more often than not as not only is it a Games console it is a multimedia centre to name a few and the added bonus of the CELL RSX graphic process gives the console so much more credibility for the users to entertain themselves evermore so surreal.
Benj, Southport, Merseyside
I will certainly not be buying a PS3. Though this console has amazing technical specifications, I have been put off by Sony's continuing neglect of its European customers. Release in Japan 11 November 2006, USA on 17 November 2006, and Europe some time in March 2007 - if we're lucky, maybe! Sorry Sony, but that's just not good enough - you can keep your console!
Mike, Aberdeen, UK
I'm a diehard Metal Gear Solid fan so I'll be getting a PS3 when 'Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' comes out, probably in July 2007. It may be expensive, but it's unbearable to imagine waiting any longer to find out what happens to Solid Snake! Hideo Kojima at Konami is a storytelling genius, I'd still buy a PS3 even if MGS4 was the only game on the console and the price was £1000!
Seb Barrow, Trowbridge, UK
I won't get a PS3, it's too expensive and the format wars aren't yet over. I'm glad its being released though, because now the PS2 will go down to around 50 dollars and its library will also see a drop, which, with the outrageous price of new video games nowadays, will fit my budget.
I've always stayed faithful to the PlayStation. I'll be queuing in the UK when it finally goes out on sale. I wouldn't give a penny to Microsoft for their Xbox, if it's anything like their operating systems it most probably crashes every 10 seconds. Give me Sony any day.
James Munro, UK