Sony Warns Of PlayStation Pre-Order Scams

Sony Corp. issued a warning Tuesday against false promotional offers for its upcoming PlayStation 3 video game console.

A number of Web sites have been promoting pre-orders on discounted or bulk shipments of the game system — without the cooperation of Sony, the company stated.

Company representatives did not name the sites but suggested consumers can avoid potential scams by purchasing PlayStation products only from authorized retailers and resellers, which includes well-known stores such as GameStop, EB Games, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

The PlayStation 3 system, with models priced between $500 and $600, is set to go on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 17, though only in limited quantities.

Some authorized stores began taking pre-orders on Oct. 10. At all 3,600 GameStop and EB Game locations, the orders were snapped up within minutes, company officials told The Rocky Mountain News. Each store had between eight and 16 of the machines available.

Sony has said it plans to ship 6 million PlayStation 3 machines in its fiscal year through March 2007, but only 400,000 units will be available in North America on the launch day.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 sold 326,000 in its first nine days.

"That's going to make PS3s rarer than hens' teeth," wrote co-anchor Harry Smith when the Sony machine's limited availability was announced in Sept. 12.

"The same kids who were screaming for Tickle Me Elmo all those Christmases ago will be wanting a PlayStation 3 ... and there won't be any," said Smith, adding, "Bah, humbug."

Sony executives say the system's competitive advantages include the PS3's speedy "Cell" processor, the console's Blu-ray disk format for high-definition video and an online network that will include video chat and micropayments.

"The graphics are much more vivid and lifelike and the action is noticeably more realistic," says CBS News technology analyst Larry Magid.

Last week, Sony reported its profit nose-dived 94 percent for the July-September quarter due to a global battery recall and red ink in its video-game business.

Net profit for the fiscal second quarter totaled $14 million, dwindling from $239 million over the same period the previous year, the Tokyo-based manufacturer said.

Sony reported a $366 million operating loss in its gaming division because of charges related to the preparation for the PlayStation 3.

Sony said last month the machine's launch in Europe will be delayed until March next year because of mass production problems in a video technology called Blu-ray disk that the machine supports.

The company has also reduced the price in Japan for the much hyped PS3 by about 20 percent in an effort to win buyers.

Sony kept unchanged Thursday its plan to ship 6 million PS3 machines in the fiscal year through March 2007. Research and development costs for the PS3 eroded profitability in the game unit, the company said in a statement.