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Official PlayStation 3 launch gets off to slow start

The flagship Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street welcomed the first customers keen to buy a PS3 at noon yesterday, with five people in the queue by the time the doors shut at 10pm.

The flagship Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street welcomed the first customers keen to buy a PS3 at noon yesterday, with five people in the queue by the time the doors shut at 10pm.

At the front of the line was 17 year-old Ritatsu Thomas, who had turned up outside the store at 5am. He told GamesIndustry.biz, "I went to the Wii launch and I got there quite late. I didn't get my Wii that day, and I was quite disappointed. This was my chance to do it right.

"I didn't come as early as the Wii launch people came because I knew PS3 isn't that hyped - that's why there are only three people here to buy PS3s. Still, as long as I'm number one."

Thomas had been expecting more fans to be camping over on Wednesday night, despite the fact that PS3 units won't be handed over until the console officially goes on sale at midnight on Thursday.

"I was expecting at least 20 people by now, but not many people have turned up. It's kind of weird," he said. So was Thomas tempted to give up and go home? "Slightly, yes, I am actually."

When it comes to PS3 games, Thomas said he's most looking forward to Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII. Asked what titles he'll be picking up at midnight he replied, "Nothing, except the free game they give me. I might buy Motorstorm as well."

Second in the queue was 19 year-old Sadie Chatfield, who described PS3 as "The best thing in the world" - explaining she pre-ordered consoles from other stores but was lining up to collect one early.

"It's miles better than Wii or 360 - okay, it may cost a bit more, but you get more for your money," she added.

Chatfield was accompanied by her boyfriend, 21 year-old Anthony Brophy: "I work at Argos, so they're delivering mine on Friday. I just came in to make sure I get peripherals and stuff."

Brophy already owns a Wii and Xbox 360, and said Microsoft's console is his favourite so far. "I don't know if PS3 will change that, but 360 has brilliant games. I've got a Wii but since they launched it there's a lack of games - it's hard to get the consoles, but since launch there's no games that I would consider buying. Hopefully they'll get something out really quickly."

At 6pm another PS3 fan joined the queue - Omar Zafar, 17, who said, "I'm a Sony fan. I had a 360, but I sold it because of PS3. It's not too expensive because it's got more stuff than Xbox 360, like Blu-ray."

Rounding off the line at 9pm was 25 year-old Gary Tahmasbi, who said he doesn't make a habit of queuing up for console launches. "It's something that I'd never normally do, but they're giving away a free game. I'm a student so I'm going to take advantage of that.

"I think PS3 is a fantastic games console, the most powerful one. Whether it's the best remains to be seen, but the games Sony releases are normally the best, so it should be. Only time will tell."

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Virgins promotions and PR manager Stephen Lynn said he wasn't disappointed by the level of turnout on Wednesday. "I'm delighted that we've got anyone at all, to be honest. We were just being cautious because we know from previous console launches that fanatical gamers sometimes sleep on the streets.

"We wanted to make sure that any customers who turned up were safe and secure. We're not bothered that it's only five people - it's tomorrow that we expect people to turn up and get involved in what will hopefully be a memorable day, and one of the biggest console launches in memory. It's certainly the biggest pre-order campaign we've had for any console."

When asked how many customers he's expecting to arrive today Lynn replied, "That's a crystal ball question. We're set up for 10 to 500-plus. However many turn up, we'll make sure they have a safe time and a fun time - that's what's important from our point of view."

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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