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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 07:08 GMT 08:08 UK
PlayStation 2 touts its wares
Darren Waters
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online

Sony has been showcasing the latest titles for its PlayStation 2 console at a games event for consumers in London.

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PlayStation 2 is more than just a collection of components in a black case. For more than 53 million consumers around the world it is an alluring brand.

The success of the PlayStation brand is one of the key reasons Sony continues to be the global market leader, and why Microsoft's Xbox, with ostensibly the more powerful machines, languishes in a distant second place.

The PlayStation Experience, at Earl's Court in London, is part of Sony's continued efforts to keep brand awareness alive, even as its PS2 machines starts to enter the final few years of its sales cycle.

'Lifestyle choice'

David Wilson, head of press and public relations for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, said the show was not just about selling and playing games but also about the "PlayStation lifestyle".

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He said: "Branding is key. It's about the experience of the PlayStation lifestyle. It's not just about gaming.

"It's all the associated lifestyle elements that people associate with PlayStation gamers.

"When we entered into the market it was dominated by Sega and Nintendo. The market was perceived as gaming for kids, a gaming ghetto for kids.

"From the outset what differentiated the PlayStation and helped us get market leadership was that we have always been about being an intrinsic part of a young person's lifestyle."

The event gives consumers hands-on time with the games they will be buying in the coming six months.

Stars of the show are undoubtedly high-profile racer Gran Turismo 4 and football game Pro Evolution Soccer 3.

But the show is a world away from the games arcades of the 1980s. Instead of cold, dark, intimidating rooms with rows of games machines, the PlayStation Experience is a dazzling white space, filled with soft seats and plasma screens.

Wider appeal

"We felt time was right to do a proper consumer show. In the past it was about box shifting and selling things," said Mr Wilson.

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"We have tried to take a trade show ethos and let people sample games that won't be out until Christmas."

The show is about fun and gaming, said Mr Wilson.

"We've never said 'fun' before," he said, referring to the new branding of PlayStation.

"It was always an emotive word that somehow devalued the products. But nowadays we have reached 53 million worldwide and now we feel we can use the word."

It may be a simple thing, but Sony knows if it wants to maintain its market leadership then it has to appeal to as wide a range of consumers as possible.

The launch of its webcam-style peripheral EyeToy, which is selling extremely well, points to a more inclusive marketing effort.

So expect women, the over 30-year-olds, families and couples to be lured into the PlayStation world in the next 12 months.

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