There might have been weeks of online hostility towards the PlayStation 3 as the UK launch approached, but it's hard to knock Sony after last night's official launch at Virgin Megastores on Oxford Street, London. The lower floor of the store had been set up as a place for early arrivals to wait in safety, but things didn't really pick up until much nearer the midnight launch. By the time the clock struck 12 the queue had grown to over 100, but it was still obvious that the event had a far smaller turnout than had been anticipated - for a launch, space was far too easy to find.
Still, this didn't affect the eager people in the queue. In fact, the majority of them seemed genuinely thrilled to be getting their hands on the new console so soon after its release, but the big news from the event wasn't the launch of the PlayStation 3 at all. At around 11:40 pm, some 20 minutes prior to the launch, Sony UK boss Ray Maguire took the microphone and started what seemed to be a sales pitch for the giant Sony Bravia TV that had been on display all evening. It was no sales pitch though; he announced that everyone in the queue was going to receive the whopping TV for free. To say the crowd was stunned is an understatement.
Back to the actual business of selling PlayStation 3s, the first person in the queue was 17 year-old Ritatsu Thomas. Although clearly a little overawed by the rather demanding press desperate to get him on camera, he was delighted at his purchase, telling Pro-G that "there's no way I'll be able to sleep when I get home." It seems everyone was a winner at Sony's official launch event though; free copies of Resistance seemed to be for all and one lucky chap even won a PlayStation 3 to go with the free HD TV.
Of course, such an event wasn't ideal to gauge public interest as a whole, but Sony should at least be applauded for putting on a decent show, complete with the most over the top giveaway I can remember at a launch event. Only time will tell if the huge expenses bill was worth it, but at least Europe has finally got the console we were so cruelly denied last year.