Both systems, in development for years, are expected to sell fast when they're released on November 17 (PS3 at $500 and $600) and 19 (Wii at $250). But thanks to the Internet and preordering campaigns, they may be long gone before then. Expect Jingle All the Way caliber chaos.
Yesterday morning Gamestop , the nation's largest video game retailer, opened preordering for the PS3, allotting eight units per store. All 3,500 U.S. stores were sold out almost immediately. Site visitors can sign up to be notified by e-mail when Wii preorders are available. Desperate parents may soon have to take to the black market -- or Canada.
Cue the slimeballs, er, capitalists. This middleman site  lets people preorder PS3s for up to $1,000. (But half the site’s commission, it promises, will be donated to charity.) One person who bought one at a Mississippi Gamestop yesterday for $641.99 found a bidder on eBay  willing to pay $5,000 (reserve not met, bidding may go up). The rest of us may not get our consoles right away, but at least we have our sanity.