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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 15:52 GMT
Microsoft crashes Sony PS3 launch
Berlin launch of the PS3, AFP/Getty

The European launch of the PlayStation 3 has been met by both cheers and indifference across the continent.

London saw the biggest turnout and all those that turned up for the midnight event also got a free HD TV to go with their new console.

But in France, Germany and many other places crowds of keen gamers were conspicuous by their absence.

In both London and France Microsoft mounted publicity stunts to rub some of the gloss off Sony's launch events.

Stunt site

At the Virgin Megastore in London's Oxford Street, the software giant handed out chairs to those queuing that had a website address printed on them.

Anyone visiting the webpage saw an Xbox 360 branded site that "welcomes" Sony to the next generation and chides the electronics giant for being "late". Microsoft's Xbox 360 launched in late 2005.

PS3 boxes

In other European nations the response to the launch of the PS3 was more mixed.

In France several stores stayed open until midnight so gamers could pick up a PlayStation but few people took the opportunity to grab one.

Game news site Next Gen reported that French gamers were outnumbered by the media on the boat Sony moored by the Eiffel tower to act as a temporary electronics store selling the console.

The event was upstaged by Microsoft which drove its own boat covered in Xbox 360 logos up and down the Seine near the Sony craft.

In Germany several hundred people turned up at the Sony Centre in Berlin where the electronics giant was hosting a launch event.

Game website Kotaku reported that in Berlin, at a branch of the Saturn electronics store, 50 gamers got a free PS3 after smashing their Xbox 360 by throwing it off a wall.

Screengrab of Microsoft spoiler page, Microsoft
Microsoft had a cheeky message for Sony
In Amsterdam only a "handful" of gamers turned up to pick up a console.

One of the better attended events seems to have been in Prague in the Czech republic where more than 100 gamers queued for the chance to buy a PS3 soon after midnight.

In Sydney Sony and retailer Myer staged a launch event at which customers were also outnumbered by the media. Danny Zarka, the first Australian PS3 owner, was at the front of the queue despite only turning up after 9PM.

About 80 customers turned up for the midnight launch and the Sydney Morning Herald called it "feeble".

Cost counting

The London HD TV giveaway is thought to have cost Sony more than 250,000. It also provided free taxis to get people home safely.

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

Gadgetcandy's Jess Hawley

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 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."

The gamers queuing through the night

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

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