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Microsoft secret agents resort to subterfuge at PS3 Euro-launches

Kevin Kelly

Microsoft pulled no punches yesterday during the European launch of the PlayStation 3. Deciding that deviousness was the order of the day, they had agents in both London and Paris throwing monkey wrenches into the works at Sony-sponsored events that included:
  • Handing out chairs to the weary fans waiting in the PS3 lines that were printed with a link to this site on the back of them.
  • Sending SMS messages to game journalists saying "The Xbox 360 team wishes you a good night."
  • Driving boats past the Sony event adorned with "XBOX 360 HEARTS YOU" signs.
  • Arming themselves with whistles and blowing them from rooftops to drown out the noise of Sony PR.
Apparently the gloves are off in Europe, and it seems to be working. At French events, one store sold 50 consoles out of 1000, and another store sold 300 out of 1000. At the massive under-attended event at the Eiffel Tower, where they were told to expect 3000 people, roughly 40 people turned out ... security was still turning people away without invitations. One unlucky gate crasher said, "I came from the suburbs, perhaps they don't like my face." At least the French are brutally honest.

Check out the roundup of coverage:
Watch - Playthrough, source of the video above
Watch -'s writeup, video, and boatload (get it?) of photos
Read - Eurogamer's summary of the event
Read -'s story about the French events, translated after the jump (thanks, dekox!).

The title of the article is "La Playstation 3 fait un bide" meaning more or less "Playstation 3 launch is a flop"
Here is a quick translation:

"Three boats. a 15 metres inflatable playstation 3. All of it next to the Eiffel tower: Sony had it all prepared so that the launch of its new baby is a success. Its failure is only bigger.

At the evening's begining, 200 journalists are on site. However, they quickly notice that something isn't going right. Three months ago, the place was packed at 10PM for the wii launch. This time, the place is desperatly empty. As the time went by, the situation became critical for Sony.

The few fans that are on site are astonished to be alone. Serge 31 years old, tries to explain: "It's true it is expensive... but with an HD reader, i's worth it." Franck, 19, who has been waiting in the cold for seven hours already regrets. "I'm disapointed, there's nobody here. I could have waited tomorrow. And they had promised animations, but nothing is happening". A DJ from a partner radio is repeating the name of the console"

This is getting long: here is the google translation of the end of the article (I've modified it a little bit to make it clearer)

40 security guards for as much customers

next to the site, Kevin, 21 years, who came from Montfermeil hangs with his friends Celine and Michel. For 10 years, he has been Sony fan and a happy owner of Playstations 1 and 2. However, he was denied the access by the security which asked for an invitation to him. "I came from the suburbs, perhaps they don't like my face ".

The security, 40 agents mobilized since the afternoon for about as many customers, confirms at least an instruction: any purchaser must present a means of payment, credit card or cash. "They told to us to get ready for 3000 people", says, chuckling, one of the vigils. Sony had announced a projection of the last James Bond, but it's the agent OSS 117 which is projected on a giant screen [OSS 117 is a french parody of James Bond]. It is a sort of metaphor for the evening in front of a literally deserted pit.

"A non-event"

Shortly after 22 hours, several specialized journalists receive a sms from Microsoft's marketing team: "Xbox TEAM wishes you a good evening". A few minutes later, a barge flanked with large streamers "Xbox 360 loves you" passes back and forth in front of Sony's party. On its roof, a bunch of employees of Microsoft armed with whistles whistle the sworn enemy. The schoolkid joke amuses.

Not at Sony in any case, where the faces are tended and where one awaits nothing more than the end of a nightmare evening. A FNAC representative, co-organiser of the event, looks sad and enumerates first explanations. "Successes of Wii, unfavourable time, date badly chosen, and especially prices of the console made this evening a non-event". At 23 hours, the store-barge of the FNAC finaly accosts. On its roof, a giant inflatable Playsation lit by a superpoweful projector placed on the other side of the Seine. The giant screen now displays images of the games of the PS3 but the cold is arctic and nobobody pays attention.

Midnight. Without shouts nor applauses, the first purchasers are invited in the store-boat. One by one, they get out, with a smile. In fifteen minutes, it is finished, about fifty of the thousand available consoles are sold... The journalists harass the first purchaser, "very pleased". Not far from there, at the Champs-Elysées FNAC, opened for the occasion like a dozen other stores of the group in France, the shelves are still full. Here, of the 1000 consoles they had, hardly 300 were sold.

[Thanks, dekox]

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