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Long lines of fans welcome launch of Sony's PlayStation 4

Many brave chilly weather at launch events around North America for a chance to get their hands on the next-generation game console.

PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4, as it comes out of the box.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony launched its new PlayStation 4 at midnight Thursday to long lines of gamers around North America hoping to get their hands on the next-generation console.

Hundreds of PlayStation fans braved hours in chilly weather in a line outside the Standard High Line hotel in New York for a chance to pick up one (or more) of the new consoles and to score Sony giveaways. However, there were likely to be some disappointed fans as Sony planned to offer only 444 consoles on Thursday night.

The first buyer of a PS4 in North America was Brooklyn's Joey Chiu, who told CNET's Jeff Bakalar that he had waited in line for 20 hours. After posing with his new console for the press, he told Bakalar that he was stunned by the whole experience.

See also: PS4: Everything you need to know

Meanwhile, hundreds were also waiting at the GameStop on Market Street in San Francisco for a chance to win one of several consoles that the company was giving away. When asked why they were willing to stand in line so long, some said they were excited about new title offerings but also cited brand loyalty as a factor. Some in New York spoke of playing various iterations of the console for as long as they could remember.

Fans also welcomed late-breaking news that Naughty Dog's cartography game Uncharted would be available on the PS4. The company released a teaser video that panned over a map of Africa toward Madagascar and little else.

CNET's Jeff Bakalar interviews Joey Chiu, the first PS4 buyer in North America. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

PlayStation 4 is the long-awaited follow-up to the company's PlayStation 3, a machine that debuted all the way back in 2006. Priced at $400, the PS4 features 8GB of DDR5 RAM, a low-power x86-64 "Jaguar" eight-core chip, and graphics powered by a 1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon "next engine."

While the PS4 comes in at $100 less than longtime rival Xbox One, the latter ships with its camera and voice/motion-sensing peripheral, Kinect, in the box. (The PlayStation camera will run an extra $60.)

The next-generation console was praised by CNET reviewers for its simplified and logical interface, graphics, and its DualShock 4 controller. However, games made for PlayStation 3 are not compatible with the PS4, and there is a dearth of triple-A titles at this time.

It may take months or years for the PS4 to catch up to its predecessor's gaming and software library, although Sony is hinting that its Gaikai game-streaming service will open the door to retro gaming next year. (Owners of some PS3 titles can upgrade to the PS4 version for just $10 each, for a limited time.)