Microsoft's Xbox 360 games console has gone on sale today in the UK and across Europe, with a number of supermarkets and games retailers open at midnight, although many gamers including those who pre-ordered back in the Summer appear to be facing disappointment as retailers fail to deliver.

A number of customers of online retail giant Amazon.co.uk have been faced with their orders not even being processed beyond what you'd have if you had only just placed the order, despite pre-ordering back in August, whilst other gamers who placed their order weeks or even months later have already received dispatch confirmation - complete with parcel tracking numbers.

Amazon told GamesPaper yesterday evening that orders were to have been dispatched on a first-come-first-serve basis, and originally denied that consoles had been dispatched, but when challenged with some order numbers supplied to us by customers who had received dispatch emails the retailer backed down saying that some orders had indeed been dispatched and putting it down to an unknown problem which they would have to investigate.

Customers of some other online retailers have claimed that pre-orders which they had placed and couldn't be fulfilled in time for the launch have since been cancelled, with the retailers simply giving people the option to order new bundle-only packages at much higher prices, and still no idea on when the console will be available for them.

The situation looks to have been bleak for anyone who was thinking of buying an Xbox 360 from a 24 hour supermarket too, with a number of Tesco Extra and Asda stores claiming to have received only single figures and queues some six hours before launch of well in excess of 100 people, leaving customers across the country to return home with nothing, cold, wet and miserable.

Shortages were always to be expected for this launch due to the brave way that Microsoft has gone for a global launch in America (last Tuesday), Europe and Japan, but when retailers manage to disappoint even those who had pre-ordered around four months ago by dispatching consoles at random to later buyers, it doesn't make it a particularly enjoyable launch for many.

There's no doubt that a good number of gamers across the country did manage to get hold of an Xbox 360 today, whether at a midnight shop opening or via mail order, but for far too many this simply wasn't the case, making the launch one which a lot of gamers may never forget, and ultimately for all the wrong reasons.

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