November 9, 2006 - As this launch guide is set to go live, IGN's two-man weak Japanese team is packing up its bags full of pocky, tangerine juice and blankets (it's starting to get cold at night these days) and getting set to head out to a nearby retailer where we'll spend the next 16 or so hours waiting for a PlayStation 3.
Assuming the stores let us actually wait, that is. While reports of waits of two days or more for the PlayStation 2's Japanese launch back in 2000 were not uncommon, it seems that Japanese shops aren't letting people wait this time around. Many major shops have announced a lottery system which will be used to distribute the limited quantity -- officially 100,000, unofficially 80,000 -- of systems on launch day. The few shops that are selling on a first-come-first-serve basis would not, according to Famtisu.com, allow people to line up on Wednesday or Thursday night.
But it's Friday morning now, and a beautiful morning at that, so we're hoping the retailers will have had a change of heart with less than twenty-four hours to go.
While we'll be waiting all night to get a PS3 for the sole purpose of testing out region compatibility for you, the precious reader, you'll be able to get up to date on the Japanese launch from the comfort of your home through this launch guide. We've got details on the launch lineup, summaries of the the recent magazines, looks at the retail scene from around Tokyo, and even commercial and print-ad downloads.
But first, the basics. The PlayStation 3 hits Japan on Saturday, 11/11. We presume it will come in a box somewhat like the one pictured above. Those are the boxes Sony's been sending out to retailers as promotional materials.
Like everywhere else in the world, Sony is releasing the system to Japan in two forms, a low-spec model that includes a 20 Gigabyte hard disk, doesn't have wireless LAN built in and is missing all those convenient memory card slots, and a high spec 60 Gigabyte model with the WiFi and memory slots built in.
Japan is getting somewhat of a deal when it comes to PS3 pricing. In line with Sony's surprise Tokyo Game Show pricing change, the 20 gigabyte model is going for 49,980 yen. That's about 10,000 yen higher than the PS2's price, but equally 10,000 yen less than the original price Sony had been intending to charge. 49,980 yen translates to under $450 US, making this a rare case of the Japanese version of PlayStation hardware being priced lower at current exchange rates than the US version.
The 60 Gig model has its price set at "open." This means that retailers are allowed to price it as they please. We've found a range of pricing of between 59,980 yen and 62,980 yen, although many stores still list the price as "to be determined." Hopefully they'll chose something before the launch (and before we select the one we want to buy).
Sony has a tiny lineup of accessories set for launch day. Separate Sixaxis controllers will retail for 5,000 yen. The Memory Card Adapter, useful for transferring PS2 saves to the PS3, will also be available simultaneously at a charge of 1,500 yen.
Sony's official Blu-ray remote will make it out on 12/7 at a cost of 3,600 yen. You're free to use your Sixaxis controller to navigate Bluray disks at launch, although it should be noted that there aren't too many Blu-rays worth navigating yet. When the PS3 launches on Saturday, only 15 Blu-rays will have been released since the first discs started shipping on 11/3. That release schedule will pick up considerably in late November, leaving a descent lineup of over 50 titles for the release of the remote.
With the lack of retail Blu-rays, no one will be able to make PS2-like accusations about the PS3 being purchased just because it's a cheap Blu-ray player. But then again, with the lack of PS3 software, there might be some doubt if you claim to have bought the system for its games. Turn the page for a look at the small launch lineup.