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Old PlayStation tops holiday game console sales

As expected, Sony has the top-selling game console at the start of the holiday shopping season. But it is the PSone--not its successor.

As expected, Sony has the top-selling game console at the start of the holiday shopping season. But it is the PSone, a repackaged version of the 5-year-old original PlayStation, that is topping sales charts, not the new and impossible-to-buy PlayStation 2.

Market researcher PC Data reported Tuesday that the PSone was the top-selling game player for the week ended Nov. 25, capturing 42 percent of the market and claiming the top spot for the third consecutive week.

The PlayStation 2 accounted for just 6 percent of the market, as supplies all but dried up. Sega's Dreamcast and the Nintendo 64 came in second and third with 27 percent and 26 percent market share, respectively.

Sony released the PSone, a repackaged version of the original PlayStation, three months ago to the befuddlement of some analysts. It is unusual for a game console maker to promote an old format after it introduces a new one, and Sony's efforts to position the PSone as a somewhat-portable device were muddled.

But the PSone has enjoyed an unexpected advantage over the PS2: You can buy one.

Component shortages led Sony to cut in half the initial shipments when it introduced the PS2 in North America in October. The company has yet to ramp up production to expected levels, leading to frenzied competition for the few units available through stores and online auctions.

With its $99 price tag--compared with $299 for the PS2--the PSone looks like a good deal for parents ready to outfit their kids with their first game player, said Matt Gravett, game analyst for PC Data.

"I don't think the masses of people buying a PSone are necessarily the ones who went out looking for a PlayStation 2," he said. "I think some parents thought they could get the PS2 for their kids. Now they see they can't, and the PSone looks like a pretty good deal."

Sony's supply problems may also be helping Sega. The company experienced the biggest holiday boost, with Dreamcast sales jumping 104 percent the week of Nov. 19, compared with the previous week, PC Data reported. Nintendo 64 sales jumped 76 percent. PSone sales climbed 58 percent, while PlayStation 2 sales declined 71 percent because of the supply crunch.

"Dreamcast sales have been on the rise since they dropped the price back (to $150) in September," Gravett said. "They had a great week. Almost everyone did, except for PS2."