PlayStation 3 on Rescue Mission

PlayStation 3 on Rescue Mission 1Even before PlayStation 3, Sony’s long-delayed new game console, goes on sale in Japan Saturday morning, it has already sold out — in Japanese cyberspace.

Across Tokyo, lines of young men were staying up overnight to be among the first to buy a console, but the frenzy began even before that. In October, the Japanese site of received advance orders for its entire first lot of game consoles in 18 minutes.

Another shopping site, Tsutaya Online, sold out preorders for all its machines in just six minutes. The scarcity has created frantic buying on online auction sites, where the right to buy a PlayStation 3 has fetched up to 130,000 yen ($1,100), about twice the machine’s expected retail price.

This appears to be welcome news for Sony, the ailing Japanese electronics giant. But it may not be enough as Sony struggles to recover from a costly recall of laptop batteries and a 94 percent plunge in profits in the most recent quarter. To reverse its current decline, and regain its title as a global innovator, Sony badly needs for PlayStation 3 to be a long-term hit — and preferably a global blockbuster like the Walkman.