In other states, customers pushed and shoved their way to the shelves to get at the limited supply, and in Kentucky, four people were grazed by BBs fired from a passing vehicle as they waited for a Best Buy store to open.
The two gunman in the northeast Connecticut town of Putnam confronted 15 to 20 people standing outside a Wal-Mart store shortly after 3 a.m. and demanded money, said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.
"One of the patrons resisted. That patron was shot," Vance said.
He said the two gunmen fled after shooting Michael Penkala, 21, of Webster, Mass., in the chest and shoulder. Penkala was in stable condition at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., with injuries not believed to be life threatening, Vance said.
Vance said police were searching for the suspects, both believed to be in their teens. He said one was wearing a ski mask and brandishing a handgun, and the other had what appeared to be a shotgun.
Aside from the police tape, things had returned to normal by midmorning at the Wal-Mart store in rural Putnam, a town of about 9,000 residents near the Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders.
Short supplies of the PS3 and strong demand led to lines of buyers, some waiting for days, outside stores across the country.
In Palmdale, Calif., authorities shut down a Super Wal-Mart after some shoppers got rowdy late Wednesday. In West Bend, Wis., a 19-year-old man was injured when he ran into a pole racing with 50 others for one of 10 spots outside a Wal-Mart.
A Best Buy in Boston, aware it had only 140 of the consoles, got smart about the big sale — its employees gave out tickets to the first 140 people in line so everyone could go home until the store opened.
At San Francisco's Sony Metreon mall, a "sacred scroll" notebook kept track of the first 505 people in line so they could go to the bathroom or pick up food without losing their spots. Some got wristbands guaranteeing a unit.
There was even a vibrant economy in Mount Laurel, N.J. Restaurants not only delivered pizza and wings, but also dispatched workers to hand out menus. The Dick's Sporting Goods store nearby sold camp chairs and more than a few tents.
Even as retailers drummed up publicity by throwing parties and inviting celebrities, Best Buy Co. Inc., Circuit City Stores Inc. and others warned customers all week that supplies would be tight.
Sony promised the 400,000 machines in the United States for Friday's launch and about 1 million by year's end. Worldwide, it was expecting 2 million this year, half its original projections.
Jack Tretton, executive vice president at Sony Computer Entertainment America, said retailers will be receiving new PlayStations daily - expedited by plane rather than ships.
"At some point we want to get to some degree of normalcy, but that remains to be seen," Tretton told The Associated Press, adding that seeing all the people camped out and lined up for the console "kind of makes all the effort worth it."
Enthusiasm for the PlayStation 3 wasn't dampened by its high price tag - $500 for the basic model with a 20-gigabyte hard drive and $600 for the 60-gigabyte version, which also has built-in wireless.
By contrast, Nintendo Co.'s Wii, which goes on sale Sunday in the U.S., retails for $250. Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which had a year's head start over rivals, sells for $300 to $400.
Sony crammed the PlayStation 3 with the very latest in cutting-edge technology, and it dominated the previous generation of consoles with 70 percent of the global market.
Saby Madrigal, an 18-year-old college student who worked for a month at a liquor store to save for a PS3, waited in line outside a Circuit City in New York for 24 hours without success. Still, she vowed to keep looking.
"For the work we had to do to get all the money to get the stupid system, I'm going to search every single store in town," she said. "I don't care, I'm going to get it."
Some who saw long lines at the midnight launches simply went to another location, with later openings and smaller crowds. Nonetheless, about 50 people were in front of Ahmad Mustafa, 24, outside a New York Best Buy with only 34 units available.
Nathaniel Lord, who camped out for three nights at a Best Buy in West Hollywood, Calif., spent more than $700 on a console and game.
"I thought about going home to shower first because I haven't showered in three days, but I think I'm just going to get another energy drink, log on and get started," said Lord, a recent graduate of California Institute of the Arts.
Sony, which has contended with laptop battery recalls and trails rivals in key products such as music players and liquid crystal displays, is counting on the PS3 to maintain and build its market lead in consoles.
Some customers were buying PS3 machines for themselves or as gifts, but many were hoping to resell them at a profit. Units were fetching several thousand dollars early Friday at the eBay Inc. auction site.
James Salterio, 27, explained the reason for his two-day camp-out outside a west Houston Target Corp. store: Greed.
"I'm gonna sell mine," Salterio said, figuring he could make anywhere between $1,500 and $4,000. His 21-year-old brother, a gamer, wanted company in line, so Salterio decided to make a profit in the process.
"It's capitalism at work," he said.
Edgar Alcala, 18, who grabbed one of the first spots in line at San Francisco's Sony Metreon Mall on Wednesday morning, said he was looking forward to a warm, dry bed - and a hefty profit.
"When I get home, I'm going to take a quick picture of it, slap it on eBay and go to sleep," Alcala said minutes before the store's doors opened at midnight Friday.