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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 08:48 GMT
PlayStation 3 launched in Europe
Sony PS3 launch

Sony has launched its PlayStation 3 (PS3) console in Europe and Australia, hoping to retake its gaming crown.

The company trails Microsoft and Nintendo in sales of next generation consoles and the launch has been beset with problems in the last year.

But the PlayStation brand remains strong with gamers and one million PS3s will hit shops on day one.

At the London launch everyone who bought a PS3 also received a free 46-inch HD television and a taxi home.

In total, the giveaway amounted to 250,000 worth of televisons to more than 100 gamers.

At the head of the queue, 17-year-old Ritatsu Thomas said the giveaway and PS3 had been worth the 36-hour wait.

PS3 HITS EUROPE
PS3

He said: "I feel fantastic. I'm delighted that everyone here also gets a television."

Sony has declared its launch of PlayStation 3 to date as a success, saying early sales are faster than those of its predecessor PS2.

It believes that the combination of a high-definition Blu-ray DVD player, online capabilities and gaming powered by the Cell processor will convince gamers to spend 425 (599 Euros) on the machine.

"High definition is very important to people," said Ray Maguire, head of Sony Computer Entertainment in the UK.

"A lot of people have bought flat panel TVs and they want content to go on it and PlayStation 3 is one of the few places they can get that kind of experience."

Mr Maguire said the TV giveaway in the UK was a reward for gamers' patience.

Sales figures from the United States, where the console launched last November, suggest that PS3 is being outsold by rivals. Recent figures from sales trackers NPD show that the Nintendo Wii is outselling the PS3 by more than two to one.
Gadgetcandy's Jess Hawley

But the NPD figures also show that the PS3 is selling slightly faster in the US than the Xbox 360 did at the same stage in its release.

More than 200,000 consoles were made available on launch day in the UK, four month's later than originally planned.

Phil Harrison, Sony's head of worldwide studios, said the delay was "regrettable".

"But there are benefits for European consumers - there are more games available, more Blu-ray movies and we've updated the online PlayStation network."

Virgin's flagship store on Oxford Street, London, opened at midnight on Thursday despite concern from police about potential muggings.

Sony said the free taxis were to ensure people who attended the launch get home safely.

Gartner principal analyst Paul O'Donovan said: "The Wii is definitely outselling the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at the moment."

But he said he expected Sony's brand will help the PlayStation edge ahead of rivals by the end of 2007.

"The real issue for Sony is whether they can get back the momentum they had with PS2. The only thing that is going to drive that is the number of titles available."
HAVE YOUR SAY
I enjoy the escapism of computer and console games, but the PS3 is something I can well do without
Keith Hutchinson, Sunderland

John Houlihan, editor of Computer and Videogames.com, said the initial line-up of games for the machine was "fairly decent".

"It lacks a must-buy, stand-out game. Six months down the line we will see Metal Gear Solid 4, Gran Turismo and more PlayStation bankers."

He added: "PlayStation is still the world's most successful gaming brand ever."

Mr Maguire said the risk in investing in PlayStation 3's technology was in proportion to the returns the company expected to make.

"We're confident we have got the right technology," he said.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The gamers queuing through the night



SEE ALSO
Have you bought a PlayStation 3?
22 Mar 07 |  Have Your Say

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