The PlayStation2 -- It's a <i>Hit!</i>

Back to Contents of Issue: May 2000

EARLIER THIS YEAR the Japanese -- and much of the Western -- media morphed into a big ad for PlayStation2. The Sony Computer Entertainment PR division could have taken a few months off, especially around the March 4 launch date, as news stories of eager customers happily waiting in two-day lines for one of the most anticipated new products of the year did their job for them. We pondered writing a feature article on the game console, but -- hey, if you haven't heard of the wonderful capabilities and staggering social implications of the PS2 yet, you've probably been holed up in your basement playing videogames or something. What could we possibly offer our readers that hasn't been covered ad nauseam? Nothing! So here, instead, is some curious PS2 trivia -- in case you haven't heard it already. -- Editors

Get in line. Japanese just love to stand in line -- about 500 lined up at the Laox Game store in Akihabara the night before PS2 was released. The first person in line spent four nights in front of the store. (Make that sleep in line).

Thievery. A 15-year-old boy in Saitama and 12-year-old girl in Nagasaki got their PS2s snatched on the way back home from the shop. The girl got hers back with the help of a guy who happened to see the incident, but the Saitama snatcher is still at large.

Can't give 'em away fast enough. As part of its spring 2000 "Digital Future Campaign," the Coca-Cola Group gave away a thousand PS2s in Japan. The key word of the promotion was tsunagaru, or "connecting." Plenty of other companies did something similar.

Rubbing it in. For the third consecutive year, Sony came out on top in a corporate ranking of brand strength in a Nikkei survey, followed by Toyota and Bridgestone. Now we're starting to sound like an ad.

Crash and burn. On February 18, 0:00 a.m., online reservations for the PS2 started. There were 400,000 to 500,000 accesses in the first minute. Guess what? The server crashed!

Stocking stuffer. The stock price (in yen) of Sega, which makes the competing Dreamcast: March 2: 2,995; 3rd: 2,880; 6th: 2,480; 7th: 2,650; 8th: 2,500; 9th: 2,380.

Going once ... By March 9 the Yahoo Japan auction site had more than 200 PS2s listed, most of them with a bid price of more than ¥50,000 (original price: ¥39,800). Sony Computer Entertainment stressed that it wasn't out of stock; if people could just wait another week or so ... apparently they couldn't. The price in some US auction sites reached $1,000 a few days after the Japan debut. The release date for the US is later this year.

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