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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Video-game fans stationed overseas should get the opportunity to purchase a Sony PlayStation 3 or a Nintendo Wii at roughly the same time as their stateside counterparts.

But how many systems will go to overseas military exchanges when they are released remains to be seen.

Production shortfalls and increased demands expected during the approaching holiday shopping season likely will leave many potential purchasers empty-handed.

PlayStation 3 production has struggled due to manufacturing shortfalls in the blue laser diode used in the system’s Blu-ray DVD disc drive.

Sony announced that only some 400,000 PS3s would be available on launch day for North America and Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Navy Exchange retailers overseas. Sony said that 1 million to 1.2 million would be available by the end of 2006.

According to Gamespot. com, this means many U.S. retailers, such as GameStop and EB Games, expect to receive about eight PS3s in many of their stores Nov. 17.

The Wii also likely will be in short supply, with just 1 million systems available on its Nov. 19 launch day. But Nintendo has stated that 4 million systems will be available worldwide by year’s end.

“There was supposed to be 2,664 (Nintendo Wiis) worldwide for AAFES,” said Teresa Gaskins, a retail program specialist for AAFES Europe.

According to its Web site, AAFES operates about 160 retail stores, which works out to around 16 Wiis per store if they’re divided equally.

AAFES expects to receive the same amount of new consoles as stateside retailers, Master Sgt. Donovan Potter, an AAFES spokesman, stated in an e-mail. Naval Exchanges should fare similarly, said NEX spokeswoman Kristine Sturkie.

But how many consoles will arrive at military exchanges overseas remains unknown.

“Manufacturers have not released allocation quantities,” Potter said. “But judging by experience with other new releases, we expect this number to fall short of customer demand worldwide.”

Toward easing the situation at Yokota Air Base, Japan, AAFES is tracking its console shipments carefully and will advertise in advance of their arrival, said Larry Salgado, Yokota Exchange general manager.

He said a raffle will be held to give everyone an equal chance to buy one of the new systems.

The Nintendo Wii, suggested price about $250, has a wireless, motion-sensing remote controller that tracks movement, allowing a gamer to swing the controller like a sword or aim it like a gun.

The Sony PlayStation 3 has wireless Bluetooth controllers and a Blu-ray optical disc drive. It also will be able to play games from previous PlayStation systems and can read DVDs and music CDs. Sony will be releasing two versions of the PS3 at different prices. The base model, expected to retail for $499, has a 20 gigabyte hard drive. A $599 version has a 60GB hard drive, is Wi-Fi-capable and has a high-definition multimedia interface for improved graphics.

Stars and Stripes reporter Matt Millham contributed to this story.


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