Games fans will start queuing in London today prior to the UK launch of the new Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3).
The games console goes on sale at midnight on Thursday and the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street is allowing PS3 customers to queue from noon onwards today.
Fans can stay inside the store where food and entertainment will be laid on and both Sony and Virgin Megastores have pledged to get customers get home safely after tomorrow’s official midnight launch.
This follows police concerns about the safety of customers who buy the consoles in central London late at night.
Priced at £425, the PS3 has been eagerly awaited by games fans after Sony pushed back its UK debut by around four months due to manufacturing problems.
Sony will ship around 220,000 of the consoles to the UK for the launch and a Sony spokesman said: ‘Both Sony PlayStation and Virgin Megastores take the safety and comfort of consumers extremely seriously.
‘We’ve liaised with both the police and Westminster Council, and put a number of measures in place to ensure that everyone attending the midnight launch gets home safely.’
In a statement about the midnight launch, the Metropolitan Police Service said: ‘Officers have expressed their concern about this planned event, which may well encourage young people to travel into central London late at night, potentially putting themselves at risk of becoming victims of crime.’
It added: ‘We would advise young people who plan to attend the event to be accompanied by an adult and to have the means to travel home safely.’
Virgin Megastores will also open branches in Manchester and Milton Keynes at midnight tomorrow night.
Game, the UK’s largest video games retailer, ruled out a midnight launch in central London following discussions with the police.
Its flagship Oxford Street store will instead open at 7am on Friday, although some 220 regional Game stores will open at midnight tomorrow.
The chain’s marketing director Anna Macario said: ‘The launch of the PS3 is a big deal to our customers. We are managing the launch so it is safe for them, and the only thing they have to concentrate on is securing their new console.’
HMV will open 50 UK outlets at midnight tomorrow but its flagship Oxford Street store will not open until early on Friday morning.
The PS3 has a built in player for Blu-ray discs – Sony’s next generation DVDs. It is also ‘backwards compatible’ with 1,782 of the 2,451 PlayStation 2 games, provided console owners download the relevant free software.