Sony has launched its PlayStation 3 (PS3) console at midnight launches in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

PPS is now on sale in Ireland for €629.99 with games priced at €59.99. An expected one million PS3 units will be made available during the initial launch period in Europe.

Over 20,000 units were brought in for the first day of the Irish launch, and it is expected that retailers will turnover approximately €15m.

Sony Ireland could not confirm how the launch went as it will not have definite sales figures until Monday but said feedback was positive.

Niall O'Hanrahan, MD of Sony Computer Entertainment Ireland said: 'The feedback we have received from retailers so far indicate that the launch has been a tremendous success'.

The company trails Microsoft and Nintendo in sales of next generation consoles and the launch has been beset with problems in the last year.

Sony and other major retailers had talked up the long-delayed  launch, organising special late-night events for those who couldn't  wait until this morning to pick theirs up, though the console's hefty price tag appeared to have dampened the consumer frenzy that  greeted launches of its earlier versions.

MrO'Hanrahan said: 'Every effort has been made to ensure that there will be stock available for consumers at launch and immediately afterwards.'

'There is huge demand for PS3 in Ireland; we still have the highest household penetration of PS2, outside Japan, and the highest number of PSPs per head of population', he added.  

A spokesman for Virgin Megastores in Britain said the chain had sold one third of its launch allocation of PS3s by 11.30am this morning.