In a well orchestrated marketing assault, the vendor had invited 3,500 hard-core gamers to an airport hanger in a desert outside Los Angeles for the official launch party.
Microsoft had also encouraged 4,500 US retailers to open their stores at midnight.
Shops quickly sold out of the gaming consoles or had taken advance orders from consumers. Others handed out tickets and raffled off the privilege to buy one of the $300 basic systems or a $400 premium set with a wireless controller and hard drive.
Microsoft had predicted prior to the launch that it would sell three million units in the first 90 days after the unveiling. It is not clear, however, whether stores will be restocked in time for Christmas.
The highest price paid on Tuesday was a staggering $10,600. A gamer placed the bid in a one-day auction ending on Tuesday afternoon which promised overnight shipping to allow the new owner to receive his premium unit on Wednesday.
While $10,600 is clearly an exception, dozens of systems sold for around $3,000, mostly in auctions ending early on Tuesday morning in the US.
One listing, in which an Xbox premium was sold for $3,050, advertised the system with the comment: "Buy early and save money."
About 18,000 Xbox 360 listings were put up on eBay in the hours after the launch, although not all items sold due to high reserve prices. By Tuesday afternoon premium consoles were selling for an average $800.
The auction website is one of the only ways for European or Asian buyers to obtain an Xbox 360. The console is set to go on sale in Europe on 2 December, followed by an Asian launch on 10 December.
The first Xbox was launched in 2001 as Microsoft attempted to grab a chunk of a video gaming market which is now worth $28bn. The console put Microsoft past Nintendo, but Sony is still leading the market with its Playstation 2 and Playstation Portable.
Sony and Nintendo are scheduled to unveil their responses to the Xbox 360 next year. Sony's Playstation 3 is expected to be technologically superior to the Xbox through the use of the new Cell processor co-developed with IBM and Toshiba.
Nintendo, meanwhile, is believed to be positioning its new Revolution as a low cost gaming console.
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