Sony confirmed Thursday it will not be able to supply the UK with the 200,000 Playstation2 consoles promised in time for Christmas, cutting its forecast to 165,000.
A Sony spokesman in London blames the 17 percent shortfall on teething problems in the production process but also says that excessive demand in the US and Japan as well as a shortage of components has had an effect. "It's a knock-on effect from the US," says the spokesman. "The principle reason is demand."
The spokesman says Sony is "confident" that UK customers who have already pre-registered to buy a console will not be disappointed, but says that those who have not pre-register may not be so lucky.
Overwhelming demand for Sony's new console has apparently been felt everywhere. In the States, Sony originally estimated that it would be able to supply one million Playstation2 consoles in time for Christmas, but cut this figure to 500,000 citing a shortage of crucial components. "We should probably take solace in the fact that it is only a 17 percent cut," says Sony's spokesman.
Further consolation to gamers may be the fact that, unlike the US, the Playstation 2 will be launched in the UK along with around 40 games titles.
A much more serious long-term threat to the Playstation2 is likely to be the arrival of Microsoft's first games console, the Xbox, which is scheduled for late next year. The XBox will be more powerful than the Playstation2 and a catalogue of developers are committed developing for the platform. Microsoft is also expected to throw a lot of money into marketing the XBox.
Gaming industry players do not appear to be greatly upset by the reduced Playstation2 figures. "As far as we are concerned PS2 stock levels are in line with our expectations for the pre-Christmas period," said Lisa Morgan, commercial director of the UK's largest specialist game retailer, Electronics Boutique.
Although the shortfall may just be short term, and a minor hiccup for Sony, one developer is relieved not to have invested time in the platform. "I'm just glad we didn't break our necks trying to get a game out for launch," he says. "We've got games planned for next year and think the situation will be a lot more buoyant by then."
Julian Boardman writes for Gamespot UK
For complete gaming news, see GameSpot UK.
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