D-Day has finally arrived for Japanese gamers, as they get their paltry 80,000 PlayStation 3 consoles today in Tokyo.

Stores are expected to fling open their doors to eager queues of buyers at 7am Tokyo time (10pm tonight British time), even though only the first few may get their hands on them.

The next-generation console goes on sale next week in the US, but in Europe we have to wait until March because of serious manufacturing issues and a lack of blue lasers.

At launch about 80,000 consoles are expected to be available in Japan; 400,000 have been allotted to US gamers and are due to be delivered next weekend.

The 60GB version costs about 60,000yen (£270) in Japan, while the stripped-down, non-Wi-Fi, 20GB model goes on sale for around 49,980yen (£222). They’re both equipped with a Blu-ray drive and an HDMI socket. Brits will have to pay considerably more when the units go on sale in the UK next spring.

Microsoft’s next generation offering, the Xbox 360 has been available since last March; Nintendo’s Wii console is shipping worldwide this month.