Tracking down a PlayStation3 on Saturday might not be an easy task. But even those Japanese gamers who manage to find one will face another trial – having only a tiny and largely uninspiring selection of titles to choose from.

While the run-up to PS3 launch day has involved enticing glimpses of more than 20 forthcoming games, just six will be on the shelves. That disappointment has not been lost on the frenetic internet discussion groups, where the question of which of the six to buy is an emotive issue.

Online consensus favours Insomniac Games’ Resistance,
a violent, futuristic shooting game that allows 40 players simultaneously to join the online bloodbath. Resistance may offer clues to whether the PS3 can eventually attract the kind of online gamers who currently play on their PCs.

The younger end of the PS3’s target audience is expected to favour Gundam: Crossfire, which involves combat between giant robots and is based on a Japanese animation series.

Retailers in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, meanwhile, said they expected the best initial sales to come from the graphically rich Ridge Racer 7
– the latest version of a driving simulator series that launched the original PlayStation in 1994.

The chief problem, said sales staff, is that gamers are much more sophisticated this time round. While Sony may tout the mighty technology of its “next-generation” PS3 console, the gamers are also more advanced. They have a better sense of the exact type of game they want, and increasingly decide to wait
for that rather than settling
for something from the launch line-up.

While the six PS3 games on offer are not the stuff of high pre-launch excitement, the pattern is not new and, say industry experts, should provide some comfort to Sony. Launch titles have only rarely been “must-have” items, with the so-called killer-applications usually arriving a year later. The PS2, which has now sold more than 110m units, launched with a chess simulator and Fantavision – a critically denounced game that involved detonating fireworks.

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