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Queues forming for PlayStation 3 launch

Chaos outside retail stores

Queues of gamers anxious to get their hands on the PlayStation 3 console from have begun forming outside Tokyo electronics stores that plan to begin selling the machine on Saturday morning.

The first gamers began arriving outside Asobit City in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district this afternoon, about 16 hours ahead of the launch, and this evening at Bic Camera in the Yurakucho district a crowd of around 200 people had gathered. Bic Camera will host the main launch of the console at 7am (10 pm GMT on Friday) and Sony’s president, Ken Kutaragi, will be in attendance to sell the first console.

The store isn't letting gamers queue up until about two hours before the launch. The rule was apparently made in an attempt to stop people arriving too early, but it's just had the effect of pushing the crowd on to the other side street opposite the store. The shop has 600 PlayStation 3 consoles available, according to a rumour that swept the crowd: quite how it will decide who out of the unorganised bunch gets one should there be a shortage is unknown.

Most other stores have resorted to a lottery system to decide who gets to walk away with the console. In most cases customers are being asked to turn up between 9am and 10am to collect a ticket with sales for the lucky ones beginning at 11am.

Boasting high-definition graphics and a Blu-ray Disc drive, the PlayStation 3 is Sony's first new games console in more than six years. International sales of the console will kick off on November 17, with launches in North America, Hong Kong and Taiwan. European consumers won't be able to get their hands on a console until around March 2007, according to Sony's current plans.

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