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In the States, people might be lining up around the block for a PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii, but it will take a bit of luck, not patience, to get one at most Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores around the world.

AAFES has sent guidance to store managers in Europe, Pacific and the Mideast suggesting they sell the initial batch of the Sony and Nintendo game systems — which are expected to arrive by mail as early as next week — via drawings.

That means that everyone who wants the newest versions of the $500 PS3 or the $250 Wii will get an equal chance to purchase the products.

Individual stores will post rules and information about their drawings, Judd Antsey, public relations manager at the agency’s headquarters in Dallas, wrote in an e-mail response. Anstey suggested that customers check with their local exchange to see how the process will work.

Antsey said AAFES received an initial shipment of 1,200 PlayStation modules for all of its facilities around the globe. That means individual stores won’t receive nearly enough to meet the expected demand.

Stores in the Kaiserslautern, Germany, area are hoping to receive the first shipments of the game systems next week, said Bryan Hutchinson, an AAFES spokesman for the Kaiserslautern region. As soon as they receive the game units in stock, the stores will put out drawing boxes so that they can be raffled off to customers.

Three separate drawing boxes will be put out for the PS3 60GB unit, PS3 20GB unit and the Wii unit. The drawing will go on for a week. Customers do not have to be present to win, but they have seven days to purchase the game unit or an alternate customer will be chosen.

Demand is expected to be high in the area for both games. But supply will be limited. For example, Ramstein Air Base — the largest U.S. air base in Europe — is tentatively supposed to receive only four units in its first shipment. The larger store down the road at the Vogelweh BXtra will have more, but the amount in stock is not expected to meet demand, Hutchinson said.

He added that there would be “a stampede” if the stores had tried to sell the games with such small quantities in stock.

The video game system debuted in the States this week, with some people camping out in front of stores for days to plunk down several hundred dollars to purchase them.

Antsey said AAFES hopes to eventually stock the modules like other merchandise, but it can’t say when that will happen, or if further drawings will be necessary before the games are readily available.

Sony has endured several delays with the launch of the product and hasn’t been able to produce enough to meet the expected initial demand.

The uncertainty in supplies of the PS3 console appears to rest with Sony, which is shipping far fewer units than originally anticipated.

Customers at the Navy Exchange might not even fare as well as their Army and Air Force counterparts.

Bill Troyan, divisional merchandise manager for NEX, said the game modules the agency received have already been sent out. But the agency didn’t get nearly the number it wanted. He said there would be about a half-dozen sent to Naples, Italy, initially, though he wasn’t sure how they would be sold.

AAFES has received 2,770 of Nintendo’s Wii modules and is shipping those out quickly as well. Antsey said about 600 of those have been reserved for those stationed downrange.

Stars and Stripes reporter Scott Schonauer contributed to this report.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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