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GameStop, a leading U.S. video games retailer, announced Thursday that it would begin to sell the highly-anticipated Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles on the first minute of the 17th of November. But only to those, who had pre-ordered the game machine and have received confirmation from the company.

The company said in a statement that it “will host midnight launch events at hundreds of its U.S. GameStop and EB Games stores beginning at 12:01 a.m. on November 17, 2006, to celebrate the launch of Sony’s much-anticipated PlayStation 3 (PS3).” But not everyone will be able to obtain the desired game console on the first day, as Sony Computer Entertainment America may have cut the amount of units to be available on the 17th by 50%.

“Due to exceptional demand, PS3 computer entertainment systems will only be available for purchase to customers who have received confirmation of delivery by GameStop or EB Games,” the statement reads.

An analyst said on Tuesday that Sony had reduced the amount of the PS3 consoles to be available at launch in the United States to 150 – 200 thousand of units, which twice less than the company indicated originally. Even GameStop/EB Games chain, which expected to have “no less than 8 and no more than 13 game consoles” to be available in each of its 3600 stores in the U.S. reportedly did not receive the necessary number of consoles and had to cancel certain pre-orders.

In order to release the PlayStation 3 console in mid-November in Japan and the USA, Sony had to postpone the launch in Europe till spring and cut the number of units to be available at launch. Initially Sony expected to be able to supply 100 thousand units to Japan for the first weekend, however, it had to cut that number by over 10% to 88.4 thousand of units. Sony also said that it would have 400 thousand units in the U.S. on the 17th of November, but now analysts believe that the number will be substantially lower.

Sony blames poor Blu-ray disc laser yields for lower than expected PlayStation 3 shipment numbers and delayed releases.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp. and will be equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive, a hardware part, which is merely available today.

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