PS3 Japanese Launch Gets Ugly
Thanks to some in-depth details regarding the PS3 launch in Japan, it appears that things didn't always go smoothly on launch day.
As we all know, the number of available units had been drastically cut, and the high demand for the console was going to inevitably clash with the short supply. According to that story, there were a lot of non-Japanese gamers out there (many actually Chinese), hired by wealthy Japanese businessmen and families to suffer through the mob turmoil. And speaking of foreigners, there was an inordinately high number of foreign resellers on hand to buy up as many systems as possible for resale (on eBay, for example).
By the time the pushing, shoving, and general hostile tensions had increased, the police were called at 7 a.m. to quell many of the crowd uprisings. However, there simply weren't enough officers to target each and every electronics retailer, so you weren't exactly safe in any given line. It certainly didn't help that the Chinese couldn't understand Japanese, which only led to more problems. Ken Kutaragi was on hand to speak to the very first PS3 owner, but the poor guy couldn't answer him...probably because he didn't understand a word Kutaragi said.
Not like we can really hold anything against the Chinese nationals here, but this fiasco does point out some glaring flaws in the Japanese PS3 launch plans. A gazillion people all wanting a product that can only go to a select few, poor communication amongst the would-be consumers, and a lack of police to control everything, and you've got one combustible situation. It was expected, but it's never any fun to see this kind of behavior.
11/13/2006 Ben Dutka