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The Dark Side of the PlayStation 3 Launch 505

An anonymous reader writes "Kotaku is running an article prompted by an email from a foreign student in Japan. The reader unveils the sad reality of the modern gaming industry. Japanese businessmen made ample use of homeless people and Chinese nationals to obtain PS3s for re-sale. There was also a large amount of pushing and shoving, some fights, and almost no police presence at the most crowded stores." From the article: "Based on my observations of the first twenty PS3s sold at Bic Camera, they were all purchased by Chinese nationals, none of whom bought any software. After making their purchase, television crews asked for interviews but all were declined. These temporary owners of PS3s would then make their way down the street where their bosses waited. After several minutes, a dozen PS3s were rounded up, as their Japanese business manager paid out cash to those who waited in line for them. I witnessed a homeless-looking Chinese man, in his sixties or seventies get paid 20,000 yen for his services and was then sent away." Update: 11/12 05:40 GMT by Z : You're right. Sony only shares a portion of the blame here. Offsides on my part.
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The Dark Side of the PlayStation 3 Launch

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:28AM (#16811198)
    Why is Sony getting blamed here?

  • by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:28AM (#16811202)
    Congratulations, Sony. Nicely done.

    The end users who buy from these middlemen are *every bit* as guilty as Sony or the middlemen. If it weren't for these buyers, there would be no market for the middlemen.
  • by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:29AM (#16811216)
    Congratulations, Sony. Nicely done.

    Heaven forbid we blame the scalpers... or the people willing to buy a PS3 at a premium from the scalpers. Why would we do that when there is a giant corporation we can blame for the ills of society? Damn that holiday season, we are helpless against the dynamic duo: Christmas and Sony. Won't somebody think of the children (especially those who will be deprived of a PS3 this christmas?)
  • Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by insecuritiez ( 606865 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:30AM (#16811222)
    I don't see much of a problem here. The people who purchased had the money, theirs or not they should get the product. If I can afford dozens of PS3s and can afford to pay dozens of bums to stand in line and buy them, then I'll get dozens of PS3s. How can their be a law against that in a country that regards itself as free (Japan)?
  • by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:31AM (#16811228)
    I fail to see how Sony is in any way responsible.
  • by codefrog ( 302314 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:32AM (#16811240)
    There's not really any practical way of preventing scalping is there?
    - float the price high enough to stifle demand (almost there already!)
    - somehow make a PS3 un-transferrable (can you imagine the screams?)
    - magically come up with more PS3s
    - wait until the factories are running full-bore before starting to release any PS3s

    Now, concert and sport ticket scalping is another story, but not I think relevant here.

    Anyhow IMO blaming Sony for this -- or even really considering it to be a problem -- is pretty mistaken.
    Some homeless guys don't get to play with their new PS3s... I'm crying my little heart out here.
  • by dannycim ( 442761 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:32AM (#16811244)
    Congratulations, Sony. Nicely done.

    Ok, so Sony makes a product, a lot of people want it, some resort to unscrupulous tactics to get them, and somehow that's Sony's fault?

    All this Sony bashing is getting ri-goddamned-diculous.
  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <nathan.stine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:33AM (#16811256) Homepage
    How dare you question the Gods of the Free Market! There is nothing wrong here as this was a free market transaction and free market transactions are never wrong by definition. </sarcasm>
  • by Gentlewhisper ( 759800 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:33AM (#16811262)
    Because Sony should release more than a handful of consoles. If they haven't produced enough to do a proper release that doesn't create artificial over-demand, they shouldn't release. It's called corporate responsibility.


    If Sony produced enough then the same poster will whine about it being released a few months later than it should, and end off with a "Think of the eBay resellers!!!!!111".

    If anything blame capitalism, that's right. If the whole world were communist, free standard issued Mao Ze Dong PS3 for each family! No such issues!
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:36AM (#16811292) Homepage Journal
    Congratulations, Sony. Nicely done.
    Yes, because Sony told people to utilize homeless people and push and shove to get a PS3.

    Don't get me wrong, Sony has done a lot of bad shit, and has been very arrogant when it comes to the PS3, but this kind of behavior should be attributed expressly to the consumers. Okay, one might argue that Sony created an artificial shortage (blue laser conspiracy?), but that's no reason someone has to be an asshole. It isn't a necessary product, so the fault lies almost entirely on the consumers.

    Come on, Zonk. I'm pretty anti-Sony, too, but you don't need to redirect blame for something like this. There's lots of other stuff Sony has done to be called on.
  • by Lurker2288 ( 995635 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:39AM (#16811316)
    It's amusing to me that folks have no problem with somebody dropping hundreds of dollars on a console, but hiring homeless people to scalp them is some huge crime. Obviously the homeless guys felt taking some money to wait in a line was a better use of their time than whatever else they'd normally do--they made out here. As for the people who hired them, well...would you expect Steve Jobs to mow his own lawn? Why should he, if he can afford to pay someone else to do it. And as for Sony, like any company, they respond to incentives: in this case, fewer units = more demand. If you don't like it, change their incentives by not buying their shit.
  • by Longtime_Lurker_Aces ( 1008565 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:45AM (#16811362)
    Actually... one could quite easily argue that there is nothing wrong here and that this is a perfect example of a free market working.

    Person A is willing to spend X dollars on a system, but not the time waiting in line.
    Person B is willing to spend the time waiting in line to buy a system at Y to sell for X.
    End result: both parties satisfied.

    The only flaw is that Sony should be taking the profit for this instead of letting third parties do it. Imagine if they used an auction-like system (hey, if google ipo can do it) then the people who value the PS3 most get one, and sony keeps all the profits.
  • Blame for what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:45AM (#16811368) Homepage Journal
    People making profit from a high demand for a low supply of items? Shock!
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:01AM (#16811474) Homepage Journal
    These Japanese businessmen should be ashamed!
  • by DilbertLand ( 863654 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:04AM (#16811494)
    Yeah, I don't see the problem end up with 3 happy people. The homeless guy gets paid for standing in line... The middle man makes a nice little profit... The end user with lots of money gets one of the first units without having to stand in line (and these are probably the exact customers that sony will want to have their system - they buy all the latest games right at release instead of waiting for them to hit the bargin bin)...
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:14AM (#16811556) Homepage Journal
    WTF is uncivilized about buying something is underpriced and selling it for a profit?
    WTF is uncivilized about hiring people who are homeless?
    Man, you people have some fucked up values.
  • Communism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:19AM (#16811568)

    Wow, I really don't know where to begin with your post.

    The Cell chip is expensive and difficult to manufacture. (Although each cell die has 7 cores, 8 are manufactured on each die in the expectation that one will fail. Post-manufacture testing finds the broken core and disables it, finds no broken cores and disables one anyway, or finds the whole chip ruined and scraps it.) That, and the expensive Blu-Ray drives are difficult to make, too.

    They sell at $600 a pop. They'll go on eBay for much more than that, I'm sure. The amount of money Sony could make is limited by how fast they can produce consoles. So, do you think Sony is making consoles as fast as humanly possible, or do you think Sony has no interest in money?

    If the whole world were communist, free standard issued Mao Ze Dong PS3 for each family! No such issues!

    And, under communism, there would be no PS3. What part of a state-run economy do you think values game consoles? Values them enough to invest millions in research and billions in retooling factories for the new tech? State run farms in Russia, China, Cuba, and Venezuela left/leave people starving. You think a system in which people lack "standard issued Mao Ze Dong [sic]" bread are going to have PS3s? Or televisions? I'm sure they'd settle for houses.

    You also forget that capitalism is the reason the PS3 exists in the first place - if Sony didn't have a chance to make $bucks, do you think they'd spend years developing the console? Crawl out of your hole and show me a communist nation that even has Playstation 2s? (China ceased to be communist for all practical intents and purposes when they, shock, adopted mostly-free market capitalism as their economic system)

  • by donaldm ( 919619 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:19AM (#16811572)
    Why is Sony getting blamed here? -- Definitely insightful since it really is a media beat-up.

    In any limited supply launch and it does not have to be a console you are always going to get people who will take advantage of the situation. Normally we call these people "scalpers" and some not so nice names as well, but in reality it is supply and demand. Basically there are people who will pay ridicules prices for something because they are normally too lazy to stand in-line and this is what these people are counting on.

    To blame Sony for this is just plain stupid. If people did not want this machine then it would not sell and we know that is not true. What is actually good for Sony here is the fact that the IMHO "idiot" who will pay well over the market rate will most likely have the money to pay for games which is how Games Manufacturers makes money.

    I think we can call this a "win" (queue sitter US$170), "win" (scalper US$???? - US$170), "win and loose" (the idiot who buys US$????) and "win" (games - approx US$30 to US$60) and "win" (Sony - percentage of games sold).

    Disclaimer. It is my opinion that a person who buys a product way over the its market rate is either very wealthy and an idiot or just a plain idiot. Still without these people scalpers would not exist.
  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:24AM (#16811606)
    "Update: 11/12 05:40 GMT by Z : You're right. Sony only shares a portion of the blame here. Offsides on my part."

    Oh, they only share a portion of the blame? That's awfully magnanimous of you, but just exactly why should they take any blame? What should they have done? NOT sold a PS3 to someone because they looked shabby? Should they have insisted on some sort of contract that the customer signs that promises to not resell it?

    This is just shameful. Honestly, did Zonk's mom used to beat him with a playstation or something? The constant Sony-bashing is just insane. And it's not like you have to look real far to find something they actually DID that was wrong.
  • by Twiceblessedman ( 590621 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:20AM (#16811836)
    it's called greed and exploitation?
  • by siodine ( 984411 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:31AM (#16811876)
    No, it's called capitalism.
  • by dynamo ( 6127 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:32AM (#16811880) Journal
    > it's called greed and exploitation?
    Is it greed and exploitation and such a bad thing to you when non-homeless people get jobs?

  • by Simon80 ( 874052 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:45AM (#16811922)
    Indeed, keep in mind that 20000 yen is over $150 USD.. This isn't bumvertising, it's people being paid a chunk of cash to wait in line.
  • by Nazmun ( 590998 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:50AM (#16811946) Homepage
    Ugh, yeah... Sony's creating an artificial scarcity to lower their shipments to be way below demand rather then sell out of 500k or more units at launch. That whole blu-ray component shortage was just a fake excuse. It's a vast conspiracy that includes other blu-ray manufactures. Because selling less units then they can make is good for business.
  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:58AM (#16811982)
    every console launch since the SNES has been the same goddamn way. That's just the way the business is. Remember the DS lite? Same goddamn deal, but we didn't hear Zonk denouncing Nintendo for that, now did we? Any bets as to whether there'll be plenty of Wiis to go around next week? Think I might have a tough time getting one in the first weeks?
  • by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:29AM (#16812096) Homepage Journal
    You're insane -- you think that Sony should have excluded all their 'real' customers in favor of those rich enough to bid on the units instead? To what end? And for how long? The first thousand? The first million? They'll sell out the first few million units without a single unit being on a shelf for 24 hours straight ... this is a police/store/social problem, not a business one.
  • Waitasec (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:52AM (#16812168)
    The end users who buy from these middlemen are *every bit* as guilty as Sony or the middlemen.

    Which is to say, guilty of exactly nothing. Guilty of giving a little bit of paying work to homeless people. Anybody thought to ask the homeless people what they thought of the deal? No that would make too much sense.

    What a stupid troll article, the only interesting thing is how many responders took the bait uncritically.
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:53AM (#16812170)
    That said, it's funny to see the same fanbois that criticized MS for all of the issues surrounding the 360 launch (fights, eBay profiteering, etc.), run to Sony's defense when it happens to their console launch.

    Fanboys? How about people who just think that it's absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical to blame the company? It wasn't Microsoft's fault, it's not Sony's fault, and it won't be Nintendo's fault at the Wii launch.

    You can blame both companies for just not making enough supply to meet demand

    Er, no, you can't blame the companies. They are/were pumping them out as quickly as they can/could. The blame here (if there is any in the first place) lies solely with the people doing it. Honestly, what are the companies supposed to do? Only begin to sell them once they have enough for EVERYONE IN THE WORLD who wants one to buy one?
  • Re:Communism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grrrgrrr ( 945173 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:53AM (#16812172)
    Yes You are right. I am sorry. I was angry but I am cooled down already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:56AM (#16812182)
    Seriously, how is Sony to blame for this IN ANY WAY?

    The retail establishment clearly did not prepare for the launch properly, and was clearly unable to control the mob that gathered. They should have requested police prescense as soon as they saw the line was starting to become excessively large (when a single file line turns into a 10 people standing next to each other file line, its time to call the cops).

    Sony did not ask rich Japanese men to pay poor/homeless Chinese people $200 to basically hang out in a line and buy a console from a store (pretty good deal, I'd do it, especially if I was homeless). It's not like the Chinese were being asked to dance naked and pleasure themselves. If anything, the rich Japanese guys who paid them to stand in line were doing them a FAVOR.

    I worked in retail consumer electronics through two generations of hardware launches (PS1 to PS2) and I can tell you that this shop was totally unprepared for the launch. You can see maybe like, one , two employees tops (we had a quarter of our staff of 40 for PS1, and over half for PS2), we had requested two uniformed police officers almost a month in advance for crowd control (and we got them, of course), and the second time around (For DC/PS2/Xbox/Xbox360), we waited til around 7am and handed out vouchers to people who were lined up, guaranteeing them a console if they returned to the store before noon and presented the voucher. Best Buy did the same thing when I went there on GameCube's launch day to get a GC for myself. They handed out vouchers a bit after 7am; that way, NO LINE, NO MESS

    I hate Sony just as much as most of you; but stop trying to pin the blame on them when they have absolutely NO REASON to shoulder any of the blame.

    You can't stop people from paying other people to buy them PS3s. What are you going to do, kick all the Chinese out of the line? Granted, in Japan, that really wouldn't be an issue (for all you Japanophiles who are unaware or in denial, Japanese are EXTREMELY racist, particularly towards Chinese, among others), but you can't just go kicking people out of line when they've been there all night.

    Further, the Japanese as a whole are very passive, and thus I'm not surprised that nothing was done about the cutting, but, come on. Once it started getting THAT out of hand, SOMEONE (if anything, the employees) should have done something.

    As you can see, plenty of places to lay the blame, but I haven't mentioned Sony.


  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @05:01AM (#16812196) Homepage
    I work for Sony, but this post is all mine and nothing to do with them.

    Sony have taken a lot of flak lately, and it's probably been mostly justified. This, however, is the shittiest smear-job I've ever had the misfortune to read on this site. I won't be returning to the site after this post, at least once this story has run its course (so if there's any replies to this I'll answer)

    How in the name of Zeus's butthole does Sony bear any responsibility whatsoever for the actions of people who aren't Sony employees? Did Sony direct these people to hire the homeless? Did Sony force anyone into doing anything, in any way? If a guy kills another guy so he can steal his PS3, will it be Sony's fault for making it? Of course not, all of these suggestions are absurd. So why attempt to shoehorn Sony into this, trying to heap more hate and blame on a company which already has so much you can fairly criticize it for?

    Criticize us about rootkits, about batteries, about E3 presentations or too much hype, about perceived arrogance or copying Nintendo or making PS3 too expensive or not having enough of them, or about the quality of our hardware or software. You don't even have to make it constructive criticism, if you don't want to. But please, for the love of whatever, criticize us for those things we're at least partly responsible for! The actions of completely unrelated third parties aren't our bloody fault!

    Anyway, enough from me. I've had a /. account for many years longer than I've worked for Sony, but this story has prompted me to leave the site. It's just a little bit too much unreasoning, undirected hatred directed at me from people supposedly smart enough to know better.
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @05:02AM (#16812200)
    Which ironically results in them ending up on EBay anyway, sold to the highest-bidding rich guy. ... and then Sony gets blamed anyway by the morons like Zonk who claim that the profiteering is somehow Sony's fault.
  • You're right. We should stop offering free sandwiches to the homeless.

    Or free food at all.

    And that charity thing. That just has to stop.
  • by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @07:20AM (#16812656) Homepage
    This is not a job, more like offering them a free sandwich.

    Since they actually have to do something for the money I guess it is obvious why your statement is simply stupid?
  • Re:Communism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heroofhyr ( 777687 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @07:42AM (#16812750)
    Can't really decide which poster to agree with...on one hand the PS3 was so costly to develop and manufacture that it isn't a surprise it's so expensive and running out and I don't think it was some sort of Big Sony Conspiracy...on the other hand I don't like replying to these types of posts and tacitly endorsing the offtopic, pro-capitalist rants that always get modded +3, 4, 5 Insightful just because the people with Modpoints happen to agree politically despite the fact that the post has nothing to do with the article. And on the other hand again, am I the only one who remembers when a console used to come with a game and two controllers? If it's really just a matter of quantity supplied being too low and has nothing whatsoever to do with gouging consumers, why the hell does it always feel like I'm paying 4 times more for the state of the art system than I was 20 years ago when I end up having to go back to the store and buy something else (another controller, a single game for the system, a memory card, cables for the television, etc.)? Oh, and for the record communism with a lower-case 'c' does not imply state-controlled anything, and China hasn't been legitimately called Communist, Socialist, or whatever you want to pretend it was, since the late 70s before Deng Xiaopeng. It's little more than a slave state with forced labour for pennies, which for all the platitudes and lip services from Western capitalists about freedom and liberty, serves their need for cheap labour so well that I doubt they'd really want it to change.
  • by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @07:43AM (#16812760) Homepage
    Nice rant, now come back when you understand a little bit more about human behavior.

    The problem with what you saying is that the logic is indeed correct but based on false assumptions.

    Biggest false assumption is that without government there will be noone 'forcing' borders and tarrifs and what not onto you, and that is actually true for many of the things you blame on 'government interference'. I am not saying that governments do not interfer, but you are dead wrong to believe that if they'd stop their interference, that it would not be replaced by something that is likely even more interfering.

  • by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @08:24AM (#16812906)
    While I agree that greed is not an "admirable" trait, I have to wonder who you and the GP think is being exploited? Certainly not the homeless person who got paid ~$170 for his troubles. The only one I think that could meet the qualifications are the people buying these consoles from the Japanese equivalent of ebay for outrageous sums of money; but if you can afford to spend thousands of dollars on ebayed consoles, then it's a bit of a stretch to say you're being exploited. The only ones being wronged here are the people who really wanted an PS3 for christmas but can't afford one now, but the only one to blame for that is Sony (and Microsoft) for their lame hype-inducing marketing tactics that are based on artificial scarcity. It's been pretty much common knowledge that the real PS3 launch will happen in Q1/2007.
  • by chitokutai ( 758566 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @09:57AM (#16813272)
    I think all of the people pissed off that bad things are being said about Sony need to rethink this whole article through. Living in Japan, over the past week I've watched COUNTLESS programs and commercials all promoting the sale of the PS3. I think this is great. I want a PS3 just as much as the next person, but I figured there would be people more desperate than me to get one so I'm waiting. HOWEVER! This kind of irresponsibility on Sony's part is unimaginable. They have no control over who should be buying these consoles, and I don't care if they were all bought by Chinese nationals, but the lack of concern on Sony's part about the safety of the consumers is unforgivable. They KNEW that the demand was going to be high. They've been advertising it everywhere. On every variety show, on every news program, and during primetime you can usually see about 3 PS3 commercials every 20 min. or so. All of this for 80,000 units?! Sony is allowed to promote it's products, but they wanted these lines to show people how popular the system really is. If SCE CEO Ken Kutaragi is there to welcome consumers, why wasn't there more effort by Sony to coordinate with police? Is that the store's responsibility? Sony is doing this for publicity, but heaven forbid they actually do it in a sane and responsible way. What Sony should have done is create a pre-ordering system and find a way to get those PS3s safely to the people buying them. 80,000 units is insane. They knew people would be in line to get one, but if they actually cared, they would have pre-empted the rush with a responsible sales system for a launch of this size. If you people actually think Sony is not to blame then you need to seriously get a clue!
  • Re:Communism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 14CharUsername ( 972311 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:22AM (#16813384)

    Capitalist run farms in Africa and Asia leave people starving. While people are poor in Cuba and Venezuela, nobody is starving, despite the best efforts of the US to make that happen.

    Also there was a fair amount of entertainment available in the Soviet Union. They had great classical orchestras, ballets, and their sports were the best in the world. Now only the elite could afford these things, but then how many of the 5 billion people in the capitalist world can afford to buy a PS3 for $600, let alone the thousands of dollars they sell for on ebay?

    Another interesting thing about a socialist system is that you don't see people thrown in jail for DMCA violations. Copyright is an ugly hack to make creativity profitable in a capitalist system. In a socialist system, the state pays the artist and the artist can be free to create art without having to install rootkits onto your computer.

    I am a huge supporter of capitalism. In most industries privately run businesses are the most efficient ways of doing things. But the problem with capitalism is the same as the problem with communism. Its round by people and people do stupid things. Socialism works very well in situations involving public goods. Capitalism is ideal in situations that allow for competition.

  • by krunk4ever ( 856261 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:45AM (#16813518) Homepage
    The only flaw is that Sony should be taking the profit for this instead of letting third parties do it. Imagine if they used an auction-like system (hey, if google ipo can do it) then the people who value the PS3 most get one, and sony keeps all the profits.

    I always thought it would be smart and nice for items with high demand on launch and not enough supply to do something like what you suggested. Auction the items off to the highest bidders. However, only take a cut of what the retail price will be and donate the rest of the money to charity. And when supply starts to match demand, then fall back to the current system.
  • by Fross ( 83754 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:50AM (#16813552)
    They decided to go to launch with an insanely popular device - this popularity mostly of their own devising, see endless hype over the last months/years - with a woefully small number of units.

    So that they can get the "PS3s sell out in 2 hours" headlines.
    So they get press coverage like this about people auctioning them.
    So the PS3 pricetag doesn't look so bad compared to the $1000 or more it sells for on Ebay. Hell, it's "only" $500, must be a good deal, right? :)

    I fully accept they may have had shortages of components or other manufacturing issues. However, the launch date and the amount of stock they had available was *entirely* under their control (As Europe has found out - they've pushed that back far enough). They could have pushed the launch back a month and had half a million units available to launch. But, they would have missed out on the media frenzy.

    The deceitful activities going on by the businessmen mentioned in the article is a logical response to this sort of launch. By no means am I condoning this behaviour, but it's naive to think that Sony didn't reckon this would happen - they *wanted* it to happen. They don't care if Joe Gamer gets his machine, they care about it becoming an object of frenzied desire and generating newspaper column inches.
  • by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @11:35AM (#16813792)

    Seriously, this story is screwed up, but no one seems to realize why. Sony launches the PS3, much later than they initially hoped, and with too few units to really call it a proper launch. The scarcity drives up demand, which drives up the price... which generates artificial demand in the form of middlemen who hire homeless people to snatch them up at launch.

    This should strike you as wrong somehow.

    I think everyone can be forgiven for not being able to quite put their finger on why, exactly. Zonk's kneejerk was to blame Sony for something, but what are they doing? Well, they're making the same mistake they made with the PS2 (i.e. launching before they can satisfy demand), but clearly by the state of the PS2 it wasn't the kind of mistake that kills a product... on the contrary, it generates artificial "SOLD OUT" hype.

    And how about these greedy middlemen? Well, scalpers are jerks, they make it harder for people who actually want to play a PS3 to get one at a reasonable price; they actually generate demand that might not be there if they weren't snatching up units, which in turn drives the hype machine. But they're giving homeless people money, so even though we'll be cursing their names come Christmas, it's hard to fault them in this story.

    And no one is going to tell the homeless guy to "get a real job." Clearly they've done no wrong here.

    So we squabble back and forth over just how much Sony is "at fault" and whether there's anything to be upset about over capitalistic impulses of scalping businessmen, Sony Nintendo Microsoft flamewars, on and on and on. But you can't help feeling like something is wrong here...

    Because there is. The PlayStation 3 is a toy! It's Tickle-Me-Elmo, Cabbage Patch Dolls, whatever. As long as you want to buy one, Sony is happy to sell you one... heck, even if you don't want one. No one who can afford the PS3's retail value will miss out! They're not a limited run, heck, the first batch will probably be the lowest quality batch released. But there is this sense of urgency, this sense of "must have now" whether it's for spoiled, demanding brats or some misguided need to be on the cutting edge of technology and play every game for every system the day it comes out... this need for the next big toy, now. Is Sony to blame? Sure, them and every other luxury-peddling company in the world.

    Imagine how much better off these homeless guys would be if, instead of spending $2000 on a PS3, you waited until March--that's three and a half months--and gave $1000 to charity. You'd have saved $400 over rough eBay price. And you'd be a whopping three months behind on the latest games.

    I'm not going to say that's some kind of ethical duty. I like my video games. I see no need to preach; every $50 game I buy is $50 I could give to charity or what have you, I know. But we're talking about paying middlemen a thousand plus dollars for an opportunity to have a particular luxury three months before everyone else, and that's just messed up no matter what luxury we're talking about. The story is messed up, because our materialism, especially near Christmas, has become an absolute farce. I'm glad Zonk posted the story, blaming Sony was the wrong reaction, but he recognized that something was just wrong about the story.

  • Re:Communism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @11:45AM (#16813856)
    Is ok to start a series called "Bum Fights" in the U.S and have some exec make millions on it.

    Is NOT ok for a foreign person to hire a homeless guy to wait in line for a PS3.

    I feel sick right about now.

  • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @12:27PM (#16814122) Homepage
    All legitimate concerns, and rightly so. But laying them at Sony's door is a bit unfair. The stores themselves, maybe the local authorities, that I could agree with. Unless this was outside a Sony store, in which case I agree it'd be Sony's fault entirely :)
  • Re:Communism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zacronos ( 937891 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @06:41PM (#16817130)
    Nice troll. I'll feed it.

    Do you mean to say that Cuba is only economically depressed because Americans can't buy Cuban cigars directly?

    Do you mean to say that an economic blockade by the US has no economic effect on Cuba? Guess what, it's not one extreme or the other, but somewhere in the middle. Welcome to reality.

    What do you think would happen to the economy of the United States if China stopped trading with us? What about if they refused to trade with any country that traded with the US? What if there weren't many politically/economically/militarily powerful countries willing to stand up for us and tell China to fsck off? You can't discount the effect of international trade (or the lack thereof) on a modern economy.
  • Re:Communism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by luwain ( 66565 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @07:14PM (#16817392)
    There is nothing wrong with capitalism: supply and demand, opportunism, etc... I saw PS3s go for $2400 on e-bay. The people who bought them were happy (and could afford them), the people who sold them were happy, Sony is happy, the Chinese who stood on line and got 20000 yen for their trouble are happy. So what's the problem? I suppose I'm a little unhappy because I can't afford $2400 for a game console, and I can't get one for $600 before Christmas, but, to tell the truth, I wouldn't spend $600 for a game console anyway. I just got my kid "MLB The show" (for the PS2) for his birthday and he was ecstatic. I'm pretty sure he'll be content with the PS2 for a while until there's some "gotta-have" game that's on the PS3. By that time I'll probably be able to pick one up for $200 (while the 'latest-greatest' will be going for mega-bucks on e-bay), and I'll be happy. Now some people might say that the rich are getting richer (those who can buy up a bunch of $600 PS3s and resell them), but let's face it, the rich are going to get richer anyway, and in capitalism some of the poor get richer, and some of the middle-class get richer, too. So everyone is happier...
  • by zacronos ( 937891 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:32AM (#16819650)
    the fact that socialism encourages laziness because there is little outside motivation.

    Really? I was under the distinct impression that outside motivation often leads to laziness, corner-cutting, and generally reduced performance []. You actually hit on a couple very important points in those few sentences, but you got your interpretation backwards.

    With a small homogenous population that has a decent work ethic, socialism works fine. The problem is that there are immigrants who don't share the same values

    It's not that those populations inherently have a decent work ethic and are thus able to make socialism work, nor does it have anything to do with the size or homogeneity of the population. It's just that societies without a system that stifles a sense of internal motivation produce people with a decent work ethic by default. On the other hand, immigrants who grew up with capitalism have learned to need outside motivation to be productive (read the link above) -- as you essentially state, they're the ones who lack the decent work ethic, not the ones native to socialism.

    In other words, the problem is not that socialism doesn't give much outside motivation -- the problem is that capitalists tend to be lazy without outside motivation.

    Imagine an analogous situation, where a parent gives their child candy whenever they finish their homework before supper, but of course doesn't allow their child candy under normal circumstances. As the research summarized in the above link suggests, the child becomes focussed on doing the homework as a means to an end -- a way to get candy. Then parent has to go on a business trip for a couple days, and asks a friend to watch the child, but forgets to mention the candy-homework deal. The first day, the child tests the boundaries, and asks for some candy; the friend gives the candy. So, the child doesn't do their homework, and merely pretends to work on it. Is the existence of this situation the fault of the friend for having given the candy without asking something in return, or is it the fault of the parent for teaching the child only to do homework for candy? Your post blames the friend, I blame the values taught by the parent.
  • Re:Communism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Marcos Eliziario ( 969923 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:45AM (#16819752) Homepage Journal
    Hey man. People DO starve in Cuba. It's a fact. It's not all the time, but even when there's no widespread famine, cuban diet is usually low in proteins and carbo. People wait in lines for hours to get a small piece of meat. I am from Brasil, and had a lot of friends who studied in Cuba, and all of them never denied that. Of course, they blame the US embargo (strangely enough, they say that our problems in Brasil are because we DO trade with the US, go figure!) Even if you were right, and you are not, you could at least try to discuss in a calm and moderated way.

VMS must die!