March 26(Xinhuanet) -- Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) gaming console was launched
across Europe at midnight Friday as the company took on competition from
Nintendo and Microsoft.
In Germany, the PlayStation 3 made its debut at
Berlin's Sony Centre, a downtown commercial building complex where the principal
tenant is Sony Europe's corporate headquarters.
Sony took over the glass-roofed plaza next to
Potsdamer Platz for a pre-launch party for the waiting fans.
"It was packed. We couldn't get anyone else in," said
a Sony spokesperson, Guido Alt, adding that 700 invitees and 2,500 fans showed
up to hear a concert by boyband US5, German rapper Sido and US band Good
Bastian Schwewiola, the first Berlin buyer, told TV
crews, "My dream has come true," as he emerged grinning from a ground-floor Sony
shop and headed home to play non-stop till breakfast time.
Around Germany, many electronics marts used
exemptions from trading-hours laws to stay open past midnight to satisfy the
fans' urgent demands.
Buyers of the PlayStation 3 were unfazed by the fact
that, at 600 dollars, the product is far more expensive than the rival game
consoles, the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Xbox 360.
Because of a shortage of blue lasers needed for the
Blu-Ray optical disk drive, European buyers had to wait longer than North
American and Asian customers, who received their consoles last year.
Some customers were annoyed that Sony removed a
special computer chip from the European version which would have allowed it to
operate games from the preceding model, the PlayStation 2. Sony said this was to
save costs, but it was "working on" backwards compatibility.
In London everyone who bought a PS3 also
received a 46-inch high definition television and a taxi home.
In Paris the midnight launch attracted only
about 100 aficionados to stores on the Champs Elysees.
According to Pierre Cuilleret, head of the retail
chain Micromedia, the success of the PS3 "will be decided in the coming months."