Virgin Megastore customers get a surprise
The Playstation 3 finally arrived in Europe last night, and there was a surprise in store for those buying a console at the official UK launch - a free 46" Sony Bravia television worth around GBP 2000.
The flagship Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street store opened its doors to the first customers keen to get their hands on PS3 at noon on Wednesday. Although Only a handful turned up to spend the night in the store, by 11pm on Thursday the queue had grown to over 100 people.
With just 20 minutes to go until the console officially went on sale, Sony UK boss Ray Maguire stepped up to address the crowd in front of a large flatscreen TV.
"This is a 46-inch Bravia W series. It's an award-winning flat panel," he said. "And do you know what the good news, is guys? I'm going to give you one free".
The cheers were muted at first, but then the news began to sink in. When Maguire clarified, "Every single one of you in this queue is going to get one," the crowd responded with whoops and applause.
At midnight, the first Playstion 3 was handed over to 17 year-old Ritatsu Thomas, who'd been waiting since 5am on Wednesday. He also received a Bravia TV to take home, but everyone else in the queue - 125 people in total - was told they'll receive their television next week.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz about the decision to give away the TVs, Maguire said, "PlayStation 3 is about the new generation of high definition. There are some people in that queue for whom the HD part is the more difficult part of the equation, and I think it's a way of just saying thank you.
"They've got the best console, and now they've got the best screen".
Maguire said he thought the launch had "gone great, considering that we weren't allowed to let people queue up outside and there were loads of restrictions".
"People waiting for 36 hours and sleeping overnight is absolutely unbelievable - it shows the affinity people have for the brand, and it's really humbling," he added.
Maguire's comments were echoed by Sony PR boss David Wilson, who told GamesIndustry.biz, "When retailers are going on record saying there's free stock, there's no point for any of these guys to come here and spend 36 on that floor down there - so I'm touched that so many have".
For full coverage of the PlayStation 3 launch, read our feature here