Christmas might still be a happy time for gamers, with Sony making guarantees Monday that the UK will get its full allocation of 200,000 PlayStation2 (PS2) consoles. There may be more as Sony is hinting that a promised second shipment might arrive in 2000, rather than January 2001.
The consumer electronics giant halved the North American rollout of the PlayStation2 from one million to 500,000 units Thursday, due to a shortage of certain high-tech components. Sony's share price was hit Thursday amid concerns over product availability. The UK launch of the PS2 has already been delayed by one month, and is now scheduled for 24 November.
Users who paid a deposit for a unit in September will definitely get their hands on a PS2 before Christmas, however. "The European rollout is unaffected by problems in America," explained a Sony spokesman. "There will be a units available for each of the 200,000 people who pre-ordered a PlayStation2." The console will cost £299 including VAT.
For those who didn't get the chance to pre-order a PlayStation2, all isn't lost, as a second shipment of PS2s is still on the cards, and there is a small possibility that they will arrive by the end of the year. "There will certainly be more stock available soon after 24 November. This second shipment will certainly have arrived by early 2001, and there's a very slight chance of a delivery before Christmas," says a Sony spokesman.
There's no indication as to how large this second delivery will be, but it is unlikely they will be available in shops. "The second shipment of consoles will probably be made available to customers through a pre-order campaign. We believe that last month's pre-order scheme was very successful," says the spokesman.
Despite the problems surrounding the PlayStation2, other companies are confident that the console will be a big success. Leonardo Colucci, brand manager at Creative Labs, believes there will soon be enough PS2s to go round. "The problem with consoles, unlike the PC market, is that there's a greater volume demand so manufacturers have to go from zero units to millions of units in a short space of time," Colucci explained. He expects to see PS2s on shop shelves early in 2001.
Creative Labs is close to releasing its PS2000 speakers which are designed to work with both PCs and game consoles such as the PS2. Colucci isn't worried that Creative will be harmed by Sony's current problems. "Obviously if fewer people get their hands on a PS2 straight away then there's a smaller market for Creative to aim at. We were anticipating tight availability following the popularity of the PlayStation2 in Japan, but these production problems are really only a blip," he said.
However, Colucci is confident that the PS2 will still be a success. "People are prepared to wait, because there won't be an alternative product until this time next year. The interest Sony had in the PlayStation2 pre-order scheme is pretty awesome, given that there's not been much press coverage yet, and few people have actually seen one in action," Colucci added.
The Creative Labs PS2000 speakers should be on UK shelves by 23 November. Final pricing isn't confirmed, but in the US they will retail for $199 including sales tax.
For complete console and PC gaming news, see Gamespot UK.
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