WATCH THE LAUNCH LIVE! -
Five and a half months ago today, dedicated Japanese gamers lined up deligently hours before the opening of stores across the nation, some even patiently waiting since the night before, skipping the last train of the night to be sure they would be amongst the first in Japan to preorder their consoles - Yes, these gamers waited in line not to buy the console as many around the world would do over the next few months, here they waited simply to preorder the console, before it had launched anywhere else in the world.
Fast forward to February and major retail stores such as Yodobashi, Bic and Yamada Denki across the nation once more are seeing the formation of neat lines outside their stores, despite the recent snowfall that has battered the nation in what forcasters are claiming is the heaviest snow fall to hit the country in over 78 years.
Lines had formed last saturday approximately a week prior to initial launch, outside the Yodobashi Camera store in Machida, Kanagawa however as the weather worsened they were asked by staff to return home, providing those in line with slips of paper that guarantee their spot on line providing they return no later than Friday 21st.
Some of the gamers I had seen last saturday are amongst those I saw yesterday again in line now the snow has passed, no doubt itching to take home their prized machine and play.
I had asked many why they did not simply order from abroad and get their systems early, and the general answer i received was that they felt safer buying their machine locally, knowing the manual, associated power cord and system is specifically designed for use in Japan, others pointed to the ability to return or replace the machine easilly should it become faulty during its warranty period, a surprising number however pointed to the playstation-unique situation where the purpose of the X and O buttons are switched over for Japanese systems.
While for some the task of waiting outside a store for a consoles launch, with preorder or without is more of a habbitual task, others in line had expressed their concern at being unable to preorder the console online or in smaller chain stores such as Aeon and ItoYokado based electronics stores that are virtually barren of preorder slots, so camping outside of the stores is their only sure fire way of securing the system.
Those in attendance stretched from mature 50-somthing men and women all the way down to college students, one even remarking that he had to study in line to not fall behind in his work.
While this is indeed a small cross section of both the country and the community, the demand for the console is clearly high and the comments regarding the inability to secure a preorder in most stores rang true as of all the stores i frequent i have rarely ever seen preorder slots available unless they had been put out or advertised within an hour or my arrival.
It would seem as though the demand in Japan is definitely high, all that matters now is if Sony will be able to meet that demand over the first few days and weeks.
"There will be a pre-sale, countdown event too, beginning at 10pm local time on the 21st February. To help entertain those queuing up outside retailers and more specifically, the celebratory Ginza Sony Building, Sony will have game developers, celebrities including: Hideo Kojima, maker of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, Shinji Hashimoto who was a producer on Final Fantasy XV and Kindom Heart’s III, as well as a comedian, actress and others. The first few PS4 buyers, will also have the honour of being handed their new console by Sony Corporate Entertainment head Andrew House."