x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

PlayStation 4 to reach UAE within days of US launch

US-based exporters and people travelling to the country are expected to pick up units to sell in the UAE at a premium on the grey market – almost a month before its official launch here.

Guests play
Guests play "Killing Zone - Shadow Fall" on Sony's PlayStation 4 during a pre-launch event for the latest gaming console in New York. The PlayStation 4 is set to launch in the US on November 15. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

The long-awaited PlayStation 4 could hit UAE shores within days – weeks before the official launch date.

The Sony games console goes on sale for US$399 in the United States tomorrow, almost a month before it launches in the Emirates on December 13 at Dh1,699.

US-based exporters and people travelling to the country are expected to pick up units to sell in the UAE at a premium on the grey market, according to experts in the industry.

“There definitely should be consoles hitting the market probably early next week, either Monday or Tuesday next week coming in from other markets,” said Omar Kassim, the founder of the online electronics retailer, JadoPado.

“Because Sony hasn’t actually placed any restrictions on it, you can buy any console anywhere for any games. You can buy a US console and play Japanese games on it for example. It is essentially going to mean that it will facilitate sales happening through alternative channels,” he added.

Initially consoles sold on the grey market will cost more than in-store, and gamers who are not willing to wait will pay the inflated prices to be the first to get their hands on the devices, said Mr Kassim.

But once the official UAE launch takes place, prices are expected to even out. And eventually the imported units will start undercutting the local market’s prices.

If the pre-orders are anything to go by, there will be no shortage of gamers willing to buy the imported units.

Jumbo Electronics opened pre-orders for the console in July and stopped two months later due to “overwhelming demand”. By that time the retailer had clocked up around 1,000 orders. But had it kept going, it could easily have reached 5,000, said Nadeem Khanzadah, the head of retail for Jumbo.

“Nothing like this was seen with the PS3 or any other launch,” he said. “Globally there is a great demand for PS4.”

Sharaf DG, another retailer, took 500 orders before the end of the pre-book period. It expects to sell more than 2,000 units in the first month alone. And it is confident it can meet demand.

“Sharaf DG will have enough stocks to service all customer orders,” said Nilesh Khalkho, the chief executive.

The digital game market in the Middle East will be worth $3.2 billion in 2016, according to publicity for the 6th Dubai World Game Expo.

gduncan@thenational.ae