Retailers are reporting huge demand for PlayStation 3 as Sony gears up for what UK boss Ray Maguire says could be the company's "biggest hardware launch to date".
His comments were echoed by Gerry Berkley, head of games at Woolworths, who told GamesIndustry.biz, "PS3 pre-orders are coming in thick and fast. It is the fastest selling games product we have ever sold online and it is shaping up to be our biggest ever pre-order campaign for a console."
Berkley said Sony's new machine is "the hottest gaming system since the PS2", adding, "Demand will inevitably outstrip supply, so our advice to customers is to pre-order to avoid disappointment."
A spokesperson for Amazon.co.uk revealed that only one other product has seen a more rapid rate of pre-orders during 2007 - J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
"The customer demand for the PlayStation 3 is high and sustained and we are confident that it will take its place as one of the top selling items on Amazon.co.uk throughout 2007," the spokesperson said.
"We are only taking pre-orders until all our initial stock from Sony is accounted for - that way, no customer will be disappointed come day of release. We don't expect stocks to last long."
It's a similar story at Argos, with videogames buyer Anthony Stocker telling GamesIndustry.biz, "We're very pleased with the interest in the new PS3 and it is our most successful pre-ordered campaign for consoles."
Entertainment retailer HMV also said there is healthy demand for the console, as predicted. "Pre-orders are going well in line with expectations," a spokesperson confirmed.
But with such a high level of interest in PlayStation 3 and still just over a month to go until launch, will there be enough consoles to go round?
"Previous console supplies have been restrictive but Sony is promising such a big amount for day one that people can pretty much pre-order from whoever they like, and expect to be happy on the day of release," observed Chips MD Don McCabe.
"We've had they highest level of pre-orders of any machine to date - it's been phenomenal. Sony has guaranteed a healthy amount of units and we have every reason to believe they'll deliver."
The PlayStation 3 will launch in the UK on March 23, priced at GBP 425. Sony has previously stated that it plans to have one million units available in Europe on day one. A sizeable proportion of those will be allocated to Britain as it generally accounts for between 25 and 30 per cent of the market.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Sony Computer Entertainment UK boss Ray Maguire said, "Feedback from retail has been incredibly positive, with early indications suggesting that this will be our biggest hardware launch to date.
"Whilst a successful launch is great, the real task is to build upon those foundations, in order to create a solid and sustainable platform, for consumers, developers and retailers alike," he concluded.