Wednesday, September 20, 2000

PlayStation 2 enters the game

Fans gear up for Sony's $300 console, which comes with Internet access and improved graphics

By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The second coming in the world of video games isn't due for another month. There are no “demos” available for test drives. And the manufacturer isn't answering all the questions from curious consumers.

        So T.J. Wilson took a cautious approach. At $300 each, he ordered only two.

[photo] T.J. Wilson describes himself as a PlayStation fanatic. He ordered two of the new PlayStation 2 game consoles.
(Dick Swaim photo)
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        The 19-year-old from Blue Ash, is among dozens of Tristate residents plunking down deposits that get them on reservation lists for Sony's new PlayStation 2, expected in stores Oct. 26.

        Some Tristate stores are keeping lists; some are not.

        “The minimum (deposit) is $10,” said Dustin Fields, assistant manager at GameStop, Springdale. “But a lot of guys are coming in and putting down $200.”

        Most of the advance orders — more than 100 at his store alone — have been placed by young men, he said, “17 to 18 years old.”

        Mr. Wilson said he “needs” two PlayStations because, “I play 'em to the bone . . . till they die.

        “I've been playing since the beginning,” he said. “I've gone through three of them.”

"Going to be huge'

        Apparently, he's not alone in the PlayStation mania.

        “It's going to be huge,” said Matt Masten, a merchandise manager at Best Buy, Eastgate. “We've had a lot of people asking for it.”

        Mr. Masten said the store plans to start a reservation list as soon as it knows when the first shipment will arrive.

[photo] The Playstation 2 will play DVDs and offer Internet gaming.
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        Other stores, like Circuit City, Toys "R' Us and Wal-Mart, have opted not to take reservations for PlayStations, but managers and salespeople recognized a growing demand for them.

        “We've heard they're having trouble keeping up (with demand) in Japan, and they're only making so many to ship over here,” said Misty Clark, an employee at Toys "R' Us, Eastgate.

        Sony, which says it has sold 2 million sequel PlayStations in Japan since March, promises 1 million units will be available initially in the United States and 2 million more by April 1. The company expects to sell 8 million in the current fiscal year.

Bragging points


        What makes the product so appealing?

        According to local techies singing its praises, there are several bragging points:

        • Superior graphics and picture quality.

        • CD and DVD (music and movies) capability.

        • Ultimately, Internet access.

        You'll have to buy more accessories, of course, but the Internet capability means that, “if you want to play a basketball game with your buddy who goes to college in Montana, no problem,” says Chris Tyson, a salesman at Circuit City, Pleasant Ridge.

        The down sides:

        • A console price ($300) that goes beyond 60 percent of the average American car payment ($498.03, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association

        • New games (10 expected initially) at $55 each.

        • Poor picture quality for movies.

        “The picture quality for DVDs will not be all that good,” cautioned Brad Roether, a Best Buy supervisor. “It really wasn't meant to play DVDs, but you can if you want to. And there's no Dolby digital audio.”

        But, for the games, “the picture quality is tenfold that of the original PlayStation,” he said. “And it's really fast.”

Violent titles


        Also, Sony touts the fact that users will be able to play any of the 800 games produced for the original PlayStation in PlayStation 2. However, don't expect to be able to play any of the new games in your old PlayStation.

        Among the new game titles, sure to displease the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its campaign against violence in the entertainment industry: “Dead or Alive 2,” “Extermination,” “Street Fighter EX3,” “Dinasty Warriors,” “World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks,” “Gun Griffon Blaze,” “Armored Core 2” and “Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2.”

        Mr. Wilson, the fan from Blue Ash who says he typically plays at least an hour a day, owns about 30 games, some of which will be traded for new titles that look more appealing.

        His favorites: “Action-adventure games,” he said. “And auto racing and sports,” including baseball.

        Mr. Fields, at GameStop, said the store does a lot of business with customers trading games.

        “Sometimes they just get bored or beat them,” he said. “Then they come in and trade them for a store credit.”

        The original PlayStation, introduced in September 1995, sells for about $100.

About PlayStation 2:

        Q: Where do I plug it in?

        A: Backside of your television; standard wall outlet.
        Q: What can I do with it?

        A: Play games. Play music. Play movies.
        Q: Can I play music compact discs (CDs)?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Can I play digital video disc (DVD) movies?

        A: Yes.
        Q: Can I play my old PlayStation games in my new PlayStation station?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Can I play new PlayStation games in my old PlayStation?

        A: No.
        Q: How much can I get for my old PlayStation?

        A: $15-$40 depending on model, age, condition.

        Q: How much can I get for my old PlayStation games?

        A: $4-$25, depending on market values and titles (role-playing themes are most desired).
        Q: Will PlayStation 2 connect with the Internet?

        A: Yes, but not yet. That's an accessory that will come later — to those who pay for it.
        Q: Does that mean I'll be able to play games with complete strangers?

        A: Completely.
        Q: How many games can I play?

        A: More than 800 titles developed for the original PlayStation; more than 270 being developed for PlayStation 2.
        Q: How can I get in shape for competitive PlayStation games?

        A: Practice.
        Q: How can I justify paying $300 ($55 more for a game) for at-home amusement?

        A: Good question.
        Q: When can I get one?

        A: Oct. 26 at a variety of games and electronics stores and mass merchandisers.
        Q: Where can I get more answers?



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