PS3 debut leads to violence, disorder
One fan waiting for Sony game system outside Wal-Mart shot in Conn. robbery attempt; police called in Calif. incident.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The debut of Sony's PlayStation 3 game console resulted in reports Friday of disorder outside stores throughout the United States, as well as a robbery attempt in Connecticut that left one man shot and wounded.
Police in Putnam, Conn., said fans resisted two armed men in an attempted robbery outside of a Wal-Mart.
According to Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police, officers were called to the Wal-Mart at 3:15 a.m. ET after two armed men tried to rob people waiting in line to get the PS3 when the store opened.
Vance told CNNMoney.com that about 15 to 20 people were outside the Wal-Mart (Charts) store when they were confronted by the robbers who demanded money. The lieutenant said one of the men in line was shot after he confronted the armed suspect. The robbers fled the scene after the incident.
Wal-Mart declined to comment on the incident.
Wal-Mart shuts store
In a separate incident, the manager of a 24-hour Wal-Mart supercenter in Palmdale, Calif., shut the store and called the cops after crowds became unruly.
Deputy sheriff Dan McPherson at Palmdale station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said about 50 to 100 people had gathered outside the store before midnight in the hopes of scoring a PS3.
"We were called after the manager told us that these people were arguing and pushing each other," McPherson said. "We told them they had to leave the premises."
Barber said a Best Buy store in L.A. requested police presence for a midnight opening tied to the PS3 launch.
"Overall we're very happy with how things went. Most of our stores had people waiting in line for a few days," Barber said. As expected, Best Buy sold out of the system in under an hour at most of its 800 locations.
In an email to CNNMoney.com, Circuit City (Charts) spokesman Jim Babb said the retailer was told that groups of people waiting in line at some of its stores in Eugene, Oregon were robbed and police were called to those locations.
"As far as I know, there were no injuries. There were some scattered arguments about line-breaking, and police responded to crowd control issues at a few of our stores," Babb said.
Overall, the launch went very smoothly, due in large part to our decision to tell customers in advance how many units we had to sell," he said.
Initial PS3 inventories at some Circuit City stores were in the single digits, Babb said
"We have six stores where we sold 100 PS3s during special midnight openings. Our Web site had its own allotment," he said.
Sony (Charts)'s PS3 was one of the most-anticipated products of the year. But what's likely triggered the hysteria over it was the awareness that the new gaming console would be in very short supply this year after Sony was forced to correct problems with the system.
Sony's has set aside just 400,000 PS3 units for sale in the United States at launch and a total of two million units for worldwide sale.
Next up: Nintendo's Wii
The situation was a little more orderly at Toys 'R' Us stores - even though store staff were forced to turn away many disappointed consumers who were hoping to score a PS3, according to a company spokeswoman.
The toy retailer initially had hoped to stock the systems at all of its 587 U.S. stores.
"But Sony gave retailers their initial inventory allocation only at the beginning of the week and then they staggered the delivery of the systems," Toys 'R' Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh told CNNMoney.com.
As a result, the company had to scale back its availability."We had enough to fulfill pre-orders of PS3 but we couldn't offer the system to walk-in customers," Waugh said. For competitive reasons, she wouldn't disclose how many PS3 units were given to Toys 'R' Us.
"Obviously all retailers wish they could have more," Waugh said, adding that the company hopes to receive more inventory over the holiday season.
"People should keep checking out stores and our Web site. Whenever we have more units we'll offer them immediately," she said.
Meanwhile, Toys 'R Us is hosting the official midnight launch event of this year's other hot gaming system - Nintendo's "Wii" - at its flagship location in New York City on Sunday. Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, will hand out the first Wii unit to it's first U.S. customer.
Nintendo's plans to ship 4 million units of Wii worldwide, although it hasn't disclosed how much of that inventory is slotted for sale in the U.S.
Even so, Waugh doesn't anticipate the same kind of unruliness to follow Wii retail debut. "We're in good position with inventory for Wii," she said.