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In clear evidence that Sony’s $6 million PlayStation 3 marketing campaign is working, Australian gamers ignored the high price tag and lapped up $33 million worth of PS3 hardware and software in the 10 days following its March 23 launch. That translates to 27,083 PS3 units sold, said GfK analyst Daniel Morse, whose figures are based on sales data provided by all of Australia’s major retailers.

The PS3’s three most popular games were Resistance: Fall of Man, MotorStorm and Formula One Championship Edition. By comparison, Microsoft sold 36,627 Xbox 360s and Nintendo sold 41,369 Wiis in the 11 days after their respective launches last year.

Morse could not provide 10-day sales figures for the Xbox 360 and the Wii, unlike the PS3, because GfK compiles data only on a weekly basis - the Xbox 360 and the Wii were launched on a Thursday, while the PS3 debuted on a Friday.

Although the raw number of PS3 units sold is lower, Morse said it was a superb result for Sony, given the console sells for $999, compared with $649 for the Xbox 360 and $399 for the Wii.

But Microsoft is not taking Sony’s challenge lying down - to capture lost markets and conquer new ones, it unveiled a souped-up black Xbox 360 Elite model featuring a larger 120GB hard drive and HDMI connectors.

Pricing for the Elite has not been announced but it is set to go on sale in Australia during winter.

In addition to putting cash in Sony’s coffers, the PS3 has also proven, as was widely expected, to be a Trojan horse for the high-definition Blu-ray disc format.

While sales of stand-alone Blu-ray and competing HD DVD players in Australia have been dismal - so low, in fact, that GfK said it was not worth reporting the figures - the PS3’s built-in Blu-ray player has given the format an immediate head start.

Sony Australia managing director, Michael Ephraim, said Blu-ray’s install-base had grown 40-fold in three days since the PS3’s launch.

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