More PlayStation 2 woes for Sony
British retailers to get 35,000 less consoles than expected before Christmas, and Europe may tax PS2 imports
The international launch of the PlayStation 2 has proven to be something of a disaster for Sony, and almost everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. In the USA the initial allocation of consoles was slashed from a million to just 500,000, resulting in fights breaking out at some stores as the new system sold out within hours of its release, and the console changing hands on auction sites like eBay for five or ten times the usual retail price. Now things are starting to look grim for the European launch, with the UK's allocation of 200,000 consoles which were due between November 24th and Christmas now cut to 165,000. It's possible that the units are merely being shifted around within Europe, but it seems rather more likely that this is due to further supply shortages, and that as a result the allocation for the rest of Europe may drop as well.
Sony's David Wilson tried to put a brave face on things, telling trade magazine CTW that "165,000 sales of PlayStation 2 in the UK before Christmas will still stand as a fantastic achievement", which it is from Sony's perspective. Sega's Dreamcast took almost a year to sell 500,000 units across Europe, while Sony will probably sell 500,000 units in a single day when the PS2 launches here on November 24th. But for gamers it's terrible news, as the already scarce supplies of the console which were still available for pre-order have now vanished entirely. It's also possible that more than 165,000 units have already been pre-ordered in the UK, meaning that some gamers who were expecting their PS2 in time for Christmas may now have to wait until well into the new year.
And things just keep getting worse for Sony. Another report in CTW suggests that the European Commission will be trying to levy an additional 2.2% import duty on the PlayStation 2, which is already over-priced in much of Europe compared to the US and Japan. Liz Ashford, head of Sony's European PR unit, explained the situation to CTW. "We applied for the import tariff commission code 8471, which applies to digital processing units and has a zero per cent import tax. Two weeks ago we were told the PlayStation 2 had been classified under code 9504, which relates to video games consoles, and we don't agree with this."
And no, that quote doesn't make any sense to us either...