The PlayStation 3 won't hit store shelves until next weekend in Japan and next week in North America, but that hasn't stopped it already appearing on internet auction sites.

In Japan and North America people who managed to reserve consoles for the 11 November and 17 November launch dates are selling their reservations for a handsome profit. Demand for the console, which is Sony's first new offering in six years, is high in part because the company has had to cut back launch shipments due to component supply problems.

On Yahoo Auctions, the leading online auction site in Japan, reservation tickets for the console are being offered at starting prices ranging from ¥1,000 to ¥20,000 (£4.50 to £90). The tickets can be exchanged at shops for a new PlayStation 3 on launch day, although that invariably means that buyers will have to travel to the store in question.

In the US, eBay users are auctioning off PlayStation 3 reservations but including the price of the console and shipping. A number of consoles listed on the site are being sold for between $1,200 (£630) and $1,600 (£840), which amounts to a nice profit on the price tag of $600 (£315) for the more expensive of the two PlayStation 3 models. In most cases the sellers are including scanned receipts from shops as verification of their reservation.

Most of the sellers offering PlayStation 3s on eBay’s US site are offering shipments to North America only, but at least one promised to deliver the console to the UK too.

The console will also go on sale in Hong Kong and Taiwan on 17 November. People in Europe, Australia and New Zealand will have to wait until March 2007 to get their hands on a product through local retailers, according to Sony's launch schedule.

Last week one of the biggest online games exporters, Hong Kong-based Lik Sang, closed down after Sony sued the company for online sales of the PSP (PlayStation Portable). In the past Lik Sang had offered consumers worldwide the chance to buy new game hardware and software simultaneously with its Japanese release date.