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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 metalligoth ( 672285 ) <> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:29AM (#16811220)
    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.
  • by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @01:51AM (#16811408) Journal
    I thought that would be a good idea, but it would really alienate the fanbase, espescially since it reeks of mafioso tactics, since Sony could artificially retrict the supply to create a higher price.

    I think the best solution would be one like the Gamespot solution of reserving Xbox 360s for extremely expensive (and profitable) bundles. You could filter the people without money, and still provide value other than just the value of having one of the limited amount of consoles.
  • by Al Dimond ( 792444 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:09AM (#16811518) Journal
    I don't see anything necessarily wrong with this in principle; the consoles are a commodity that is sold for less than it's worth, people can and do buy 'em and sell 'em for a profit. And anyone that desperately wants the console to play games will shell out the dough, because they're suckers. And people that can't afford that are probably better off anyway, because they shouldn't need overpriced crap to make them happy. Mod me redundant, because I'm sure I'm repeating myself here.

    What surprises me is that businessmen are getting into it. Even though they can probably quickly double or triple their investment selling the PS3s, there's a limited supply and lots of competition to get the units. Even if they make $1000 per unit they're spending a considerable amount of time to turn over a limited number of units. It seems to me they could make more money in the same amount of time trading stocks/bonds/commodities because the process is more streamlined and the volumes are higher. So for some kid looking for quick money it would surely be a good investment, I'm just surprised that it's worth the time of rich dudes.
  • Re:Communism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:35AM (#16812120)
    And, under communism, there would be no PS3. What part of a state-run economy do you think values game consoles?

    The part that wants to provide the bread and games to pacify the populous? Communism does not necessitate a dictatorship that kills all opposition, it could be implemented on a democratic system provided there's a saveguard against the majority deciding to enslave the minority but that's an issue democracy always has and modern implementation more or less successfully avoid.
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:41AM (#16812136)
    Artificial scarcity? They're having slow production. You think they only WANT to have this many units for the Japan and US launch, and push the Europe launch back so far? When Nintendo is launching a highly-awaited product at the same time?

    This is not Sony's fault in the least, and it REALLY shows how anti-Sony these boards are with people actually claiming that it is.
  • by TorKlingberg ( 599697 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @06:07AM (#16812422)
    As every other post seems to defend Sony here, I have to object.

    Just like Microsoft did with the 360, Sony is releasing a very small amount of consoles at a price far below the market value. Sony isn't making money now. The reason is to make the PS3 seems desirable and popular for when they release the big batch just before the hollidays. Sony _wants_ headlines about PS3s selling out quickly. And what better way to get media attention than violence?

    No, I'm not saying that this is all Sony's fault, or that they are juridically responsible. But I think it is a problem when companies plan for and profit from violence at product releases.
  • by wpanderson ( 67273 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:32AM (#16813452)

    More likely, that $500/hr rate is a billed-out rate, which us consumers / plebs / potential litigants pay. Unless it's their own practice (let's say it's not), a portion of that will return to the lawyer as salary (... pfff, about $75-100/hr, he said sticking a finger in the air and guessing), with the rest going to the law firm itself to pay for legal pads, crayons, mind control devices and dinner parties for the partners.

    The law firm would in theory lose $500/hr for each potentially billable hour the theoretical lawyer stood in line waiting for a PS3, but then again, if he just walked out to a video game store, or flew to Akihabara on a whim without telling anyone, he'd more than likely be fired for gross misconduct. If on requested leave to stand in the Tokyo rain and get shouted at by megaphone-wielding Bic employees, that law firm would have used another member of staff to take his place while he was away to still make their $500/hr, and the lawyer would still be earning his $75-100/hr since he would be on paid leave.

    ... I thought about this too much, didn't I?

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:37AM (#16813482)
    1. Floating the price higher to reduce demand is an effective way to prevent "scalping". If it's not working, the price just hasn't been raised enough.

    That would most likely backfire. If you raised the price enough to match what the early adopters (a very small market) will pay - it would totally kill the buzz, and turn the majority of the market off your product - even if you lowered prices later. End result, raising the price, even if only temporarily, results in less profit. Worst case, your company's name become dirt, and no consumer will ever trust you again. Sony already has enough trouble in that department.

    There's a lot more to the console market than just the retail price of the hardware. You need to have support from developers, the fanbase, and a thriving "ecosystem."

  • by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:24PM (#16815362)

    Maybe I wasn't clear enough, but I can't help but feel that you're deliberately missing the point. Where is the harm? Well, clearly there is no economic harm. I did my best to show that no one involved in the total transaction has violated any capitalistic norms. Sony, the scalpers, the homeless guys, even the eBay purchasers who "WANT IT NOW," no money is being compelled to change hands.

    What I am trying to note is why the story is so deeply distasteful despite the fact that no one involved is really cheating anyone else. The reason the story feels so wrong to so many of us is not because it is causing any problem, but because it is a symptom. "Time preference" for, say, neccessities like food is pretty important. Time preference for luxuries that have a limited window of benefit, e.g. clothes of a certain style or maybe "I need a costume for the Halloween party" are less important, but still significant.

    Time preference for a video game system takes it to a whole new level, however. I'm not advocating waiting 1/3 of a year for some vague social cause. I'm pointing out that society is a little bit sick when 1/3 of a year for a game system that will be around for a long time is worth over $1000 and generates an entire mini-industry employing homeless people. It's rampant materialism that is not wrong in any capitalistic sense of the word, but indicates, I believe, a larger problem with culture, society, and human decency.

    You know, things that capitalism and most people miss because they can't be measured in dollars.

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