Hundreds of European stores opened their doors at the stroke of
midnight last night to usher in the first PlayStation Portables (legally) sold on the Continent. At the same
time, Berlin, Germany, home to Sony's European headquarters, was an embarrassingly quiet gaming town during those late
hours, as Germans tend to think games "make young people
stupid." Nevertheless, Sony hopes to make available (and sell through) 1 million PSPs over the next two weeks to
Europeans who have had to endure a launch date that had
been pushed back five months already.
Of course, launch sales have been affected to some degree by crafty gray-market importers, which Sony has sought to shut down, but that can't dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands who have pre-ordered the sleek multimedia marvel. Anything else? Well, it looks like Sony will support the latest firmware update, which enables web browsing and attempts to stamp out emulation (among other hacks), but not make it mandatory just yet: "A spokeswoman for Sony said the units on sale in Europe will not have the new firmware preloaded, but will come with a disc that will allow users to load it onto their machines themselves." 5 million PSPs have been shipped outside of Europe up to this point, but Sony would like to ship 13 million handhelds "in the year to next March." That's quite a tall order, until you realize they projected UMD sales of 130 million by 2008.
Say, anyone know whatever happened to the PSP music download service they had planned? Is that set to go in Europe anytime soon? Just thought we'd throw that out there while we're on the subject. Cheerio and congrats to all our PSP-lovin' friends across the pond.
[UPDATE: Not to leave anyone out, I felt you should know that the PSP launched earlier in Oceania/Australia last night as well, which might depend on which part of the world you live in. Hope that helps. Thanks, Alex!]