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Big demand for new PS5 console in Japan as fans snap up preorder lottery tickets

The PlayStation 5 and its controller are seen in this image provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.

TOKYO -- Japanese gamers are overwhelmingly trying to preorder Sony Corp.'s new PlayStation 5 (PS5) video game console, the first wholly new iteration of the product in seven years.

    Some major electronics retailers are reporting that their preorder lotteries are selling as many as 91 times more tickets than they have available stock. With the novel coronavirus fostering greater demand for home comforts, it appears that many customers will have difficulty getting their hands on the new console for some time.

    Sony is set to release the PS5 on Nov. 12. Two editions of the console will be available; a standard model with a built-in disk drive that costs 49,980 yen (about $477) before tax, and a digital edition which will only be able to download games from the internet and costs 39,980 yen (about $382) plus tax. Its selling points include its compatibility with high-spec 4K and 8K visual displays, and its new controller is being touted for its rumble features that more realistically match the action on screen.

    Ordinarily, long lines of customers queuing outside major electronic stores from the morning are a familiar sight on console release dates. But with coronavirus prevention measures in mind, this time retailers are making full use of a preorder lottery system to avoid crowds of customers descending on their locations.

    Yodobashi Camera Co. had accepted applications for its preorder lottery on its website from Sept. 19 to 23, and ended up selling 40 times the number of tickets than they have available standard PS5 consoles, and 91 times the total for digital editions. Other major retailers including BicCamera Inc. and Yamada Denki Co. also reported selling several times more tickets than consoles, and many gamers on Twitter could be seen posting messages such as, "I lost the lottery again," and "I can't buy one."

    According to a study by Japanese gaming media firm Famitsu, in the period between January and June, game sales in Japan were around 174.8 billion yen (about $1.69 billion), 24% up on the same period in 2019. Games have remained in demand since the spread of the coronavirus led people to spend more time indoors, and it appears that a new group of people who have come to enjoy gaming in addition to existing fans has spurred the current level of popularity.

    Major retailers intend to hold subsequent preorder lotteries with each confirmed restock date, and it looks likely that demand will outstrip supply for some time to come.

    Famitsu Group representative Katsuhiko Hayashi told the Mainichi Shimbun, "For fans it's gotten harder than before to buy (the consoles), but that demand exceeds supply is proof of their popularity and there's not much that can be done about it." Hayashi himself has participated in a number of retailers' lotteries, but said that so far they've all been losing tickets.

    (Japanese original by Mihoko Kato, Business News Department)

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