The things I do for our loyal PS3 readers. I braved rush-hour and walked through central London this afternoon to visit Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street for the second time in two days, to have a look at the hordes of Sony fans queuing for their latest console launch. Well, if a horde is defined as 30-odd people, then yes, it was impressive. After I left the store at 6pm last night, two more people turned up to camp in the basement and wait out the remaining 30 hours or so by playing numerous games of Motorstorm. I got the chance to speak to Ritatsu Thomas, the 17 year old who I chatted to yesterday about being the first in queue. Watch the video I shot with him, although you may have to crank the sound up due to the background noise of people playing Motorstorm behind us. Otherwise, read on below the cut for some of the smooth marketing answers I was fed by Stephen Lynn from Virgin, including this pearler, "we actually believe the console is value for money". Scaaaan-daaalous!
Obviously one of the major points I wanted to address when I spoke with Stephen was about the lack of customer excitement over the console, as demonstrated through not more than 30 people showing up to the launch. "Normally consoles suffer from not having enough stock in, lots of people have got disappointed, so Sony have had to work pretty hard to ensure they have stock available for their customers, so what we're seeing is people coming slightly later to the launch...we expect in the next five hours to get 250, maybe 300 people", he said, perhaps rather too optimistically.
I quizzed him on how many consoles they had available in stock, Stephen assured me their "several hundred" would be gone by Friday lunch-time. "This is our biggest ever allocation of a launch console, which we're really pleased about", although by looking at how many people had turned up by 9pm, which is when I left, I have concerns he may be wishing they'd ordered less in from Sony instead!
"We've worked both with Microsoft and Nintendo really closely on both of the launches, but we expect this to be bigger and better than both of them", though he did admit later that by the time I spoke to him at half six, there were more people queuing for the Wii back in November than there were then and there for the PS3. He remained optimistic however, saying Virgin firmly "believe the console is value for money, the fact that it's got Blu-ray built in, not only do you get games and amazing graphics, but also a blu-ray player as well!".
So, will Virgin's hopeful enthusiasm prove successful for their sales of the PS3 over the next few days? Only time will tell. I for one felt extremely sorry for Sony when I left at 9pm, just three hours before the big midnight launch, so much so that I was considering placing an order myself just to make the hapless workers perk up a little. Almost.