Prices of Sony's PlayStation 3 have jumped to nearly US$4,000 on EBay after the gaming console was launched in the US.
Just 12 hours after the devices went on sale, EBay reported that close to 800 PlayStation 3 systems had sold at an average price of US$2,716.
Sony is launching two models of its next-generation gaming console, a 20GB version at US$500 and a 60GB version at US$600. Games go for US$60 each.
The company started selling the console at midnight on Thursday, five days after the launch in Japan.
Sony made 100,000 systems available in Japan, while the 400,000 units available for the US are expected to sell out within days.
The scarcity of the system caused long queues outside shops, with some eager buyers camping out for days to guarantee one of the coveted systems.
A frenzied midnight rush on shelves caused authorities to close a Wal-Mart store in California, and caused injuries at a store in Wisconsin, according to an Associated Press report.
Limited supply and the spike in demand gave rise to a flourishing market on EBay. By Friday morning in the US the consoles were selling for more than US$2,500.
Sellers offering free overnight shipping and bundled games in some cases saw bids of more than US$3,850.
Numerous sellers asked up to US$15,000 for their consoles, but failed to attract any bids.
High profile auctions like these also tend to attract hoax bids from eBay users who have no intention of paying.
One buyer bidding more than US$8,000 had no past eBay buying history. He outbid several other users without a bidding history who had only recently signed up for an account with the online auction site.
To battle fraud by sellers, EBay has put restrictions in place for listings of the new gaming console.
Sellers are required to prove that they have the unit in their possession by posting a picture of the device with the user's screen name inside the photograph. They also have to post an image of the sales receipt.
The auction site had even stricter requirements for presales, demanding that sellers have a 98 percent positive feedback ratio from at least 50 past deals.
The trend in PlayStation 3 sales is largely similar to last year's Xbox 360 launch. The Microsoft consoles brought in bids of up to US$3,000 in the hours after the launch. Prices later subsided to around the US$800 level.
Sony's PlayStation 3 is slated for release in Europe next March. Nintendo is preparing to start shipping its Wii console on 19 November in the US and 8 December in Europe.
PlayStation 3 prices hit US$4,000 on EBay
By Tom Sanders on Nov 21, 2006 10:39AM