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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 09:08 GMT
PlayStation 3 hits 'grey market'
PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 goes on sale in the US on Friday
PlayStation 3 consoles advertised as used are appearing for sale in Japan shops as well as online auctions.

They are being sold for up to four times the retail price of the console, which went on sale in Japan last Saturday for about 270.

There are also reports that homeless people were paid to queue for the console on behalf of people now selling them on at a higher price.

The product launch is one of the most crucial in Sony's history.

Thousands of people queued for many hours in cities across Japan on Saturday and many people went home empty-handed.

PlayStation 3, Sony

Sony has had difficulties in mass producing the console because of problems with a specific part of the console's Blu-ray DVD player. The firm put the European launch of the console on hold until March next year due to the shortages.

One PS3 with a 60GB hard drive, which would have cost about $500 (270) in Japanese stores, was on sale on Monday on the auction site eBay for an asking price of $2,300 (1,200).

Other PS3s were attracting bids starting from $600 (313) up to $1,475 (771).

Brian Ashcraft, an editor for gaming website Kotaku in Japan, said: "I witnessed homeless people waiting in line as well as a high number of Chinese customers."

He said he had heard similar stories from other shops around Tokyo and in Osaka.

A Kotaku reader, Dirk Benedict, contacted the website about the launch day at flagship Tokyo store, Bic Camera.

"The first buyers of PS3 were largely elderly Chinese men and young Chinese women with shaky Japanese language skills," he wrote.

"Opportunistic Japanese businessmen have the largest presence, hiring poor Chinese men and women to wait in line for a PS3."

Ps3 launch
Many Japanese customers went home happy

Mr Benedict said the Chinese men and women were then delivering the consoles to Japanese men, who were paying them up to 90 for queuing.

He wrote: "Sony should be scolded for staging a national launch event with 80,000 units.

"An extreme lack of supply ignited an extreme surge of demand - that of which poor Chinese and opportunistic Japanese took full advantage of."

Kotaku reports that PS3 consoles advertised as used are now being sold for 144,900 yen (645) in some Japanese shops.

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 its official cost in Japan is 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 player 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.

Fans give their verdict on the PlayStation 3

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