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Originally published Tuesday, March 29, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Despite the hype, Sony PSP no sellout in debut

Some retailers said yesterday they were surprised at relatively lackluster interest on launch day and still have PSPs sitting on store shelves.

The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — Sony's PSP portable video-game device that went on sale last week seemed an instant sensation, marked by midnight launch parties at stores and lines of eager gamers huddled in rain and cold to get the system.

But while Sony is touting the rollout as a success — and many retailers did sell their entire stock — the event might not have been the complete blockbuster that was expected.

On the launch day Thursday, Sony officials tentatively claimed a total sellout, as did many stores.

But some retailers said yesterday they were surprised at relatively lackluster interest on launch day and still have PSPs sitting on store shelves.

Internet message boards over the weekend were dotted with comments from gamers around the country reporting similar stockpiles.

Greg Peterman, a store manager for a Super Target in Dallas, said he had expected gamers to line up Thursday before the doors opened.

"We weren't hit like that," he said. "We thought we were going to be. But it didn't really happen."

Peterman said he still has several PSPs for sale.

"I just don't think it was as popular as people thought it was going to be, with people already having PlayStation 2s," he said.

The price may have dampened casual gamers' enthusiasm.

At $250, the PSP is $100 more expensive than Nintendo's new handheld, the DS, and some gamers had to pay even more to get one.

Austin, Texas, resident Paul Branson said he purchased a PSP on launch day from a Fry's Electronics store. But he couldn't buy the PSP unless he bought a "bundle" that included two games, as well.


"I was thinking $249 plus tax, and when I walked out of there, it was $368," Branson said.

Still, most PSP systems seem to have sold.

Dan DeMatteo, vice chairman and chief operating officer for video-game retailer GameStop, said his company has exhausted its supply of PSPs, aside from a few unclaimed preorders.

"We're talking to Sony, trying to find out when we'll get more," he said. "We probably won't know until the end of the week."

GameStop is the largest game retailer in the country with more than 1,800 stores.

DeMatteo wasn't surprised a nongaming retailer like Target, which caters to a more general audience, didn't sell out its allotment.

"That's not an impulse purchase," he said. "The people who wanted to get this thing were teed up to get it and had the money."

"I would expect, though, as the early adopters now have them and are showing them off and people are seeing it, that it will have traction," DeMatteo said.

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