Martin Khalaf opens his PlayStation Portable after he waited in line for hours in El Cajon, California
Fred Greaves  /  Reuters
Martin Khalaf opens his PlayStation Portable after he waited in line for hours for his chance to buy it at a GameStop in El Cajon, Calif., on Thursday.
updated 3/24/2005 4:26:05 PM ET 2005-03-24T21:26:05

With hype and fanfare usually reserved for a movie premiere, die hard video game fans formed large lines Thursday to buy Sony Corp.’s tiny new PlayStation Portable.

At the Sony Style store in New York, “Last Call” host Carson Daly joined Sony executives for a midnight madness event. Hundreds lined up at Sony’s Metreon store in San Francisco to pick up the hot gadget, while midnight launches or early openings were held at most of Grapevine, Texas-based retailer GameStop’s 1,800 outlets.

The PSP, Sony’s first foray into portable video game machines, features stereo sound and a sharp, 4.3-inch color screen. Sony hopes the PSP can appeal to more than gamers with its ability to play movies, music and show pictures.

The $250 “Value Pack” which went on sale across North America on Thursday includes extras like a memory card, carrying case and a copy of the full-length movie “Spider-Man 2” on the system’s proprietary, 1.8-gigabyte media discs.

Mike Yacullo, 36, pre-ordered a PSP in January to make sure he’d get one on time. It arrived Thursday morning, along with several games.

“I actually never owned a Sony video game before, but this one pushed me over the edge,” the programmer from Jersey City, N.J. said. “I’m really, really impressed. The graphics are excellent, the screen is really bright. It’s better than I thought it would be.”

Sony made 1 million PSPs available for Thursday’s North American launch; the company has sold more than 1.2 million in Japan since December. Sony plans to increase production to 2 million units per month by the middle of next year.

The PSP and the DS from Nintendo Co. are expected to buoy the global portable games market from $3.9 billion in 2003 to $11.1 billion in 2007, according to market research firm DFC Intelligence.

The PSP already has enjoyed some celebrity cachet, making the rounds at a Hollywood fashion show last week that included PSP accessories from top fashion designers like Marc Jacobs, Heatherette, Jenni Kayne and Jennifer Lopez.

And at least one person broke the law to get a PSP early.

A man in Charlotte, N.C., reportedly made off Tuesday with 12 PSPs he stole from a GameStop store. Police said when a clerk confronted him, he tried to knock her eyeglasses off.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Sony’s PSP debuts

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