Will Christmas be playful or dreamy?

News.com has an article about Playstation 2 shortages. The article contains reactions from retailers and analysts to Sony's announcement that they're only going to be able to ship 500,000 units for the October 26 release instead of the million units they originally had planned.

One critical point in the article is that paid preorders do not a PS2 make. Sony has apparently been discouraging retailers from doing the prepaid thing, since just because the retailer can take somebody's money doesn't mean that Sony can give them a box for that person. Considering the large number of preorders that have already been taken, there could be some PO'ed shoppers before this is all over.

Of course the important thing in all this is the Christmas shopping season. Parents know that a raincheck under the tree on Christmas morning just isn't going to cut it with little Timmy. If PS2's are too difficult to get, it's only a matter of time before, in the words of one analyst, parents say "Screw it, I'm buying a Dreamcast."

Another article, this one at ZDNet, explores that very point. According to the article, Sega proudly states that it will have plenty of consoles for the Christmas season because its production is up to snuff and it's been stockpiling them since June.

Of course, pessimists would chuckle and say that it's easier to stockpile consoles when people are waiting for a competing product rather than buying yours, but it brings up an interesting point: What will parents do, and what longer term effects might it have on the industry?

Assuming that parents would rather have a Sega box under the tree than an empty one, the shortage could have a lasting impact on the adoption of Sony's new console in the U.S. At the very least, I'm expecting Cabbage Patch Kid-style fights between parents as Christmas approaches. Time to grab the camcorder, head to Toys-R-Us, and shoot some reality video.

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