FOSTER CITY, Calif. - With the scheduled release only a couple of days away, Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced a delay in the introduction of the new PlayStation 3 in the United States and Great Britain until mid-January 2007.
Reports say the delay was caused by a mass purchase by a mysterious man from the Middle East.
Sony would not confirm or deny the rumor. According to a written statement by Sony executive Phil Harrison, "Sony is so sorry to announce the delay this late in the delivery cycle but circumstances require it."
Game industry analysts were confused at the delay as the PS3 had already been released successfully in Japan on November 1, selling out in about one hour.
Analysts had noted there had been rumors of backwards compatibility issues with PS1 and PS2 games and some technical issues with Blu-ray capability, but insiders say these were just covers for the real story: the purchase of all 400,000 units for a reported $750 a unit, more than $150 over retail per PS3. The sources, who only spoke upon the condition of anonymity, said that the buyer was from Bahrain where the most of the units were being shipped, though some were said to be being sent overnight to a London Hotel.
Diehard fans were reportedly already camping out at retailers across the U.S., from Sheboygan, Wisconsin to Phoenix, Arizona. Reports from Liverpool and Manchester were similar. The groups, almost exclusively made up of young males, were hoping to be the first in line to buy one of the new, high-tech consoles, and were crest-fallen at the news.
At the Sheboygan Circuit City, employees were already getting ready for a door-busting rush and gaming enthusiasts were preparing for their virtual worlds to change.
"If anyone's familiar with high-definition TV, imagine a little better quality than that," said George Bankhead, Circuit City manager. "So, I can imagine the pain these boys feel is intense."
"Blue Ray capability makes movie graphics and a variety of new games look so good that players will feel immersed, it's no wonder the kids want this console. The experience will seem even more real as multiple people can play at once -- up to 40 at a time through the Internet," said games analyst Burke Bates.
The English reaction was little more stoical. "The mates are keeping a stiff upper lip, but you can still tell the disappointment is devastating," said Alstair Whyte, an electronics department clerk at John Lewis in London.
Back in Sheboygan, among the boys waiting, some were so desperate they were talking about pooling their funds and sending several of their number to London or Bahrain to see if they could get at least a couple of units.
In related news, Michael Jackson's company MJJ Productions, Inc., has announced it is releasing a series of music video themed games for the PS3 including Thriller, Bad, Another Part of Me, The Way You Make Me Feel, Just Good Friends, and I Just Can't Stop Loving You.
CORRECTION: We erred in our previous report. Sources in Bentonville, Arkansas, now make it clear that the "mysterious middle man" was a campaign staffer for former Senator, former vice presidential nominee and current presidential candidate John Edwards, not an individual from Bahrain. We apologize for the error.
Copyright 2006 Douglas Salguod