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Japan gamers finally get PS4 at midnight launch

TOKYO -- Diehard gamers in Japan who began lining up earlier this week finally got their hands on a new PlayStation 4 as Sony unleashed its console on home turf in a midnight launch.

The long-awaited Japanese launch comes after a stellar debut in the United States and Europe, where more than 5.4 million units have been shifted since November, offering a bright ray of hope to Sony after years of gloomy sales of its key consumer electronics goods.

At midnight, the first 100 customers were allowed to take home a new console from Sony Building, a flagship display venue in Tokyo's bustling district of Ginza, putting the lucky few fans hours ahead of a nationwide mass release.

“Thank you for coming to this launch despite the cold,” Andrew House, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), said to the first buyers.

Some of the eager fans had lined up for two days to be among the first in Japan to own the new console.

“I want to play games with state-of-the-art technology,” said Tetsuya Tamura, a 44-year-old IT engineer who arrived on Wednesday with his son, Shion, 19, to take first place in the queue.

Early adopters of the PS4 in Europe and the U.S. have enthused over its vast computing capacity and the cinematic graphics it makes possible.

“I played on a trial one and found that its processing speed is fast and it's easy to play,” said Shion, who had brought his PlayStation Portable to pass the time.

Mitsuhiro Chisaka, 30, who lined up at another countdown event in Tokyo, said: “I can't wait to play PS4 as the domestic release was quite late. I'm a big fan of PlayStation and SCE. I hope Sony will regain momentum with this successful launch.”

In the coveted U.S. market, Sony boasted that video game industry sales data, reported last week by NPD Group, showed PS4 is far outselling Microsoft's Xbox One consoles, also released in November.

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Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. President and CEO Andrew House, left, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan President Hiroshi Kawano, right, and the first customer to purchase the PlayStation 4, center, pose for photo during a launch event in Tokyo on Saturday, Feb. 22. (AP)

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