PS3 (PlayStation 3) consoles were selling at about a 50 percent mark-up on their retail price on Saturday evening in Japan, about 12 hours after the console made its worldwide debut.

Sony's first new console in six years went on sale at many major retailers on Saturday morning and almost immediately sold-out. The total shipment for launch had been cut back to 100,000 units due to component shortages.

From interviews with many of the people waiting in line at one retailer in central Tokyo it was clear that a sizeable minority were buying the console in the hope of making a quick profit.

A look at listings on Yahoo Auctions, one of Japan's top online auction sites, on Saturday night revealed that there was a profit to be made from selling the PS3. But there is also a good supply of consoles that's helping to stop prices reaching levels seen before launch or being seen currently in the US.

Versions of the model with a 60GB hard-disk drive were selling for around ¥90,000 (£400), which is about 50 percent higher than the retail price. The 20GB machine, which retails for about ¥50,000 (£220), was selling for around ¥70,000 (£310). At close to 10pm on Saturday night there was an auction ending about once every minute on average.

Prices for Japanese consoles on the US eBay site were much more difficult to find and consequently fetching higher prices. One auction for a 60GB console to ship on Monday was at $1,731 (£905) with four hours left to run. On eBay's German website a 60GB console from Japan was at €700 (£470) with two days to run.

The PlayStation 3 will go on sale in North America, Taiwan and Hong Kong on Friday 17 November and in Europe in March 2007.