Lining Up For PlayStation 2

Chicago Bears fan Scott Wiese holds an official name change petition as he prepares to enter the Macon County Circuit Clerk's office in Decatur, Ill., to file a request to change his name to Peyton Manning. Wiese told his buddies before the Super Bowl that the Bears were such a lock to win, that if they didn't he would change his name to that of the Indianapolis Colts quarterback.
AP/Herald & Review, Kelly J. Huff
Sony's PlayStation2 made its biggest debut of an entertainment unit in history across the U.S., when the clock struck midnight last night, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

Most stores are expecting to be out of stock by the end of the day.

When people from all over the states stand patiently in line to spend $300 to buy one, you know a toy is hot.

"I've been waiting a long time for it. I've been reading up on it. I need to get it," said one anxious customer.

"It's the greatest. The graphics are awesome. I'm ready to play it all night long," one would-be buyer who'd stood on line all night in San Antonio told reporter Jim Forsyth.

"I've been waiting out here since 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon," said another. "It is the ultimate gaming system of the Millennium, and I'm here to get it."

"I've been here since 3 o'clock yesterday, 'cause it means a lot to my son," said a third.

But the initial demand for the new PlayStation was expected to be so great that Sony has already admitted it won't be able to meet it.

"We had some initial shortages of some key components for the PlayStation2 console, " said Kazuo Hirai, President and COO of Sony Computer Entertainment, N.A.

Instead of launching 1 million units, Sony only launched 500,000.

Chief rival Sega is already on the attack, touting the graphics and Internet connection in its rival Dreamcast console and, in a marketing campaign begun this week, employing a rude red-haired kid to stick a big red tongue out at Sony.

Sega says Sony's product may have potential, but the modem needed to run its applications will not be available until 2001. Even then, consumers will need high-speed Internet connections.

But PlayStation2 plays more than games.

"Right out of the box, it will play audio CD's and DVD movies," said Hirai.

He said that a blank space designed for a future plug-in device might hold the most reward for Sony.

"We packed a lot of technology and potential into this system. We definitely want to be the center of home entertainment."

Sony faces a double challenge next year, when Microsoft, armed with a $500 million worldwide marketing budget, launches its Xbox video game player and Nintendo unveils GameCube.

All will battle it out in the $20 billion video game market worldwide, which Sony now leads.

The Sony launch, which includes 26 new game titles, is considered the most ambitious in video game history. But an industrywide shortage of electronic processing parts has slowed production.

Frank O'Connor, editor of an online video game magazine, calls PlayStation2 a Trojan horse, a way for Sony to become the high-speed internet connection into the home, for a price, of course.

"They are going to be able to sell you other things. They will be able to pipe movies into your home, pipe TV shows, pipe video games, any other content (like) online shopping. Anyting they want to sell you, they'll be able to put straight into your home through PlayStation2."

Although it's still a few years away, Sony is just trying to step up its production for the thousands of consumers who must have the trendiest toy.

But some people saying this PlayStation2 will cost Sony a lot of money because it took $2 billion to develop it. Even at $300 per unit, they have to sell many to recoup the cost. But Sony isn't worried.

Chris Byrne, an independent toy consultant, cautions that all the fuss over PlayStation2 may be slightly exaggerated.

"There are always the early adopters, the true gamers, who will want to have bragging rights, but that is the fraction of the market," Byrne said.

Other customers, he said, will be willing to wait until after the holidays or will turn to Sega Dreamcast to get their fix.

©2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report