Demand for PlayStation 2 shuts down Web site

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TOKYO--Sony Corp. got a taste of the customer anticipation for its new PlayStation 2 video game console in Japan as a flood of orders shut down the Web site for online sales minutes after it went into operation.

PlayStation 2 will go on sale in Japan on March 4, but Sony started taking advance orders online Feb. 18. The company reported it received 100,000 hits in the first minute the order site opened, forcing it to shut down temporarily.

Over the weekend of Feb. 19-20, the site's average hit-rate per hour was several hundreds of thousands, Sony says. The marketer has stepped up its Internet sales operation, and the PlayStation 2 console site also features software and other related products.

Sony Computer Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp., will initially put one million consoles on the market, and the company expects to sell about 250,000 units at its Japanese Web site.

PlayStation 2 will be priced at a lofty $362 and will boast a super high-tech and high-speed microprocessor that plays DVD games.

The current PlayStation video console has racked up sales of 70 million units and is one of the most profitable products in the entire Sony line.

The marketing campaign for PlayStation 2 kicked into high gear over the weekend as Sony held a PlayStation Festival in suburban Tokyo.

The new video-game unit will be backward compatible, meaning that users can play the titles they have for their current PlayStation video-game unit in the new machine. However, Sony has had to admit that the new game console has a glitch that causes a handful of titles for its previous game console to have trouble playing in the new PlayStation 2.

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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