Sony is confident that a lack of availability of PlayStation 2 (PS2) units in the UK during the run-up to Christmas will not cause a sales slump in the first quarter of 2001, despite being warned by one retailer that it is "shooting itself in the foot" with its channel strategy.
PS2, one of the next-generation consoles, can play DVDs and the old catalogue of PS games as well as new games, and has developers "queuing up", according to the games giant. The console will be launched in the UK on 24 November, and will cost £299.
However, a maximum of 200,000 units have been made available to UK customers due to a shortage of components, and are being distributed using a highly unpopular first-come, first-served pre-order system.
"We are doing all we can to ensure all the pre-orders are fulfilled before Christmas," said a Sony representative.
More than three million consoles were sold within three days in Japan following the PS2release in March this year, and there were stampedes for the console at its US launch.
One retail expert said that Sony could be "shooting itself in the foot" by limiting availability in the UK, because there will only be a relatively small take-up of software over the Christmas period.
People may also decide to wait for Microsoft's X-box or even turn to Sega's Dreamcast out of frustration, she added. However, Sony is confident that its product is good enough for people to wait.
The representative said: "One thing that sets PS2 out from all the other consoles is the developer support. It is an incredible piece of hardware, and there will be 30 games available at launch and up to 60 before Christmas."
X-box is no real threat, he added, because Microsoft has so far failed to provide a physical copy of the console and finalise details of its launch.
"Sony has its own plans and agenda, which is why we have been so successful," he said. The representative added that no amount of competition will force it to change plans.
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