PS3 launches across Europe
The PS3 is go across Europe, with fans queuing throughout the day in anticipation of the midnight launches being held by hundreds of stores. The London launch formed the centre of Sony Europe's debut celebrations on the continent, with eager PS fans camping through the evening to be among the first in PAL regions to play the game, come the official March 23rd launch date.
At Virgin Megastore on London's Oxford Street, those queuing to acquire a PlayStation 3 were also treated to a 46-inch HD television and a free taxi ride home. Not bad for an afternoon spent lazing in an entertainment shop. In total, the London event gave away more than 250,000 GBP worth of the HD TV sets to in excess of 100 gamers. Taxis were provided in order to allay police fears that purchasers might be mugged on their way home, though it is reported that excitement was mooted compared to the Xbox 360 / Wii launches, perhaps as a result of the price point (425 GBP / 599 Euro), and a rather mixed launch line-up of software.
17 year-old Ritatsu Thomas was the first customer to buy the console, having waited all day at the front of the Virgin Megastore queue. "I feel fantastic. I'm delighted that everyone here also gets a television," he commented.
Sony are already claiming the PAL launch of the PS3 to be a success, stating that early sales are faster than the PS2. Given that Sony are banking heavily on the success of Blu-ray to justify the high price of the new console, it is little wonder that the company chose to celebrate the occasion by dishing out HD TVs - the role of high-definition being crucial to the system's long-term appeal.
The UK TV give-away was also a 'reward for gamers' patience', according to UK chief Ray Maguire. Whether he was referring to the PAL region delay or those queuing in-store remains unclear.
200,000 consoles are available in the UK from day-one, with a million systems being shared by PAL regions. Given the high numbers of pre-orders, it will be interesting to see how many units make it to shelves over the weekend, or indeed whether stocks sell out as rapidly as Sony might hope, with retailers claiming the Wii to be the current 'must have' console. More on this as we get it.