Q&A: Sony UK's Alan Duncan

GameSpot got the skinny from Sony Computer Entertainment UK's marketing director on the day of the PlayStation 3's launch.

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Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past six months, you'll no doubt have heard about Sony's delay in getting the PlayStation 3 to the UK. However, on March 23, 2007, the console finally hit the British Isles and the rest of the continent, selling 165,000 units within two days.

Around 125 of these were sold at Sony's official launch event, which was held at Virgin Megastores on London's Oxford Street. To sweeten the deal, everyone who bought a console at the launch was rewarded with a 46-inch Sony Bravia LCD TV, as well as a free copy of Resistance: Fall of Man and a taxi home. With all these freebies sending the crowd into a frenzy, GameSpot calmed down for a quiet word at the launch with Sony UK's marketing director, Alan Duncan.

GameSpot UK: So how do you think the launch went, Alan?

Alan Duncan: I think it went incredibly well. We're really pleased with the turnout and we're really pleased with the reaction of the crowd, particularly when we told them all we were giving them a beautiful new television. It was a fantastic donation from Sony, and I think it really proves what we're trying to say about the future of high definition and how the two parts of the company work together. The whole thing's gone very smoothly, and we're really pleased.

GSUK: Was the TV giveaway something you felt you needed to do given the delay of the PlayStation 3 in the UK?

AD: No, I don't think so--we just wanted to do something special for the guys that came down here at midnight. I think people knew that we had a huge level of stock and I think that meant that there wasn't the same level of hysteria around the midnight launch. We wanted to say to the people that did make the effort, "Thank you very much, and here's the best possible way for you to enjoy your new PlayStation 3."

GSUK: How has the turnout been? We believe that there are more than 600 consoles in stock here, but how many people have you had through here tonight do you think?

AD: We've had 125 people here tonight, and that's how many TVs we had. We didn't want anyone to be disappointed, so we just stopped it there, and there will be some more guys coming in once [the first 125] have all been sorted out and got home. I think it will carry on very soon tomorrow morning, so there will be a very steady flow and you'll see that over the whole weekend.

GSUK: Sony is going to put taxis on for buyers of the console. Is that a reaction to what happened in the US with muggings taking place?

AD: Well, with such a premium piece of kit I think it's important that we don't send people out onto the streets at midnight in the middle of London. Security was always going to be paramount tonight, and we're really pleased that we can do that for everyone.

GSUK: Have you been able to get a feeling for what the most popular games are with buyers in the UK?

AD: For the launch, I think that MotorStorm and Resistance will both be very popular. They're both very different games and they show some of the capabilities of PlayStation 3 extremely well. The third-party lineup is strong as well, with titles like Virtua Tennis and Virtua Fighter from Sega and three or four really good titles from Electronic Arts as well. I think there's a good spread with quality throughout, and that's going to be followed up over the summer as well.

GSUK: In Europe, PlayStation 2 titles such as SingStar and EyeToy were released ahead of other territories. Is that going to continue on PlayStation 3, or is there going to be a worldwide release schedule?

AD: The whole social gaming phenomenon that we've developed on PlayStation will be carried onto PlayStation 3. The first example of this that we'll really see is SingStar, which will be coming out pretty soon. It will make full use of the network capabilities of the machine, and it will take SingStar and house parties to a whole new level of craziness.

GSUK: Will the recently announced "Home" be available to European gamers as well?

AD: Yes, it will. We've got a beta trial starting very soon actually, and then over the summer that trial will grow and grow. The service will develop and you'll see some of the functionality that Phil [Harrison, president of Sony's worldwide studios] has already talked about, and hopefully from the beta trial we'll be able to develop some exciting new ways of using Home as well. That's a really important project for PlayStation 3.

GSUK: A couple of people tonight have held off buying extra controllers for the console, because they think a version with rumble will be released soon. Is that something you can comment on?

AD: (Laughs) Well, obviously I heard the news like you guys did the other week [Sony reached an agreement with Immersion to use its advanced vibration technology in its products], and we'll wait and see what happens on that. There's no immediate plans, though.

GSUK: Alan, congratulations on the launch.

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