I finally got around to posting some of the highlights of the Sony PlayStation 3 Launch Event held at SonyStyle Plaza in NYC on November 16th, 2006.
How I ended up at the Launch Event:
I first received an invite to the PlayStation Source Event held in SoHo earlier in November, and was one of 100 Sony Gamer Advisory Panel members that got a spot at the event. We had about 2 hours to play with the systems and the games on 46” Sony Bravia XBR3 TVs, which was as close as can be to a final setup at my house, since the only real difference between a XBR2 vs. the XBR3 is the plastic bezel (XBR2 is silver, the 3 is black) and the corresponding color on the remote. They had a nice bar set up with free drinks and plenty of systems to try all of the games. I played Resistance: Fall of Man, Formula 1, Mobile Suit Gundam, Motorstorm, and also tried out one of the machines set up to display media, pictures, and music via the XMB. Formula 1 and Motorstorm seemed choppy at times, but the other games were smooth. I liked Gundam, but not for the regular price of $60, it seemed more like a $30 game. Resistance definitely was the best of the bunch, and they even had multiplayer going with those at the event, and some others that were testing at Insomniac’s offices. It was all in all a good event, and ended up with a T-Shirt that I probably will never wear, as the size is a bit small for me.
Here is the Flickr photoset I set up with pictures from the PlayStation Source Event:
Fast forward 2 weeks later. I received a tip about the NYC launch event, and that they were accepting online registration to gain access to the event. I quickly found the site, and signed up myself and a few friends. There was a disclaimer that the registration does not guarantee entrance, however they were only accepting a few hundred entries and allowing in 400. The odds of getting into the event, as well as getting a PS3 right then looked to be pretty high. I would be travelling back from Ohio on business Thursday morning, then meet up with my friends and head to NYC with plans to arrive around 3PM for the 9PM event. If we got in, great, if not we would hit a bar and head home. Wednesday (the day before the event), while I was teaching a training class, Sony sent an email to the 100 GAP members that went to the PlayStation Source event and stated they had 50 guaranteed spots for the launch party, and that the first 50 respondents would get the spots. The email came out about 1:30PM, and I found out about the email roughly 2 and a half hours later. I responded but I guessed that I would be too late, and I was. I then emailed back asking for confirmation about the registration for the event, as there were conflicting reports that the registered list was still going to be used vs. a first come first served line outside of the store. I got a confirmation from the GAP people that it was still on as a registered event, but I had my doubts. Nevertheless I still went to NYC that afternoon with now 1 other friend (Andy), if things looked terrible we were going to just turn around and go home. We arrive around 3:30 to find that the line was roughly halfway around the block. We found one of the upper Sony staff members that flew in from LA to get the final confirmation or denial on the “registered” line, and he said there will not be one. Ouch. We still proceeded to stand in line, as it was an unseasonably nice day in NYC (70 degrees and slightly cloudy). As we stood there we got plenty of questions as to what the line was for, and after we told them it was for the PlayStation 3, they reacted by either telling us we’re crazy, or just emphatically shaked their head.
Now it’s about 5:00 or so, and the clouds roll in and it starts to rain. Nice. We were prepared with jackets and snacks, but nothing for a solid rain. At around 6PM it’s still raining, and I check my BlackBerry, which I can check both my work and personal email from. I check my personal mail and I see an email from Sony. It’s a notice that I made it onto the GAP list for the event! Apparently someone didn’t respond with the details or emailed back saying that they could not attend, and I got their spot. The unfortunate part is that Andy would still have to wait outside and hope he got in. I still waited in line, and then got interviewed by NBC4 on their local evening news with a few questions during the rainstorm. At about 7:30 it’s still raining and I then had another interview with an editor from Consumer Electronics Daily. He was a bit more thorough, however you have the luxury of doing that with print vs. video. As 8:30 rolled around, I made sure that Andy was cool with me going in for the event, which he was, and I proceeded to go to the check-in line, now completely drenched from the rain which continued to fall. I got my wristband and proceeded to the front of the building for the security screening. After making it through security I went to coat check and profusely apologized to the staff for my drenched jacket. They were very kind about the situation, checked my coat and I then proceeded to the main area.
The main area had large wall hangings of some of the key Sony franchises they created for the PlayStation 3, a stage, several areas to play the games (similar to the Source event), and plenty of horsduerves and beverages. The event had a house DJ that was surprisingly very good. Over the course of the evening they had different special guests up on the stage until the main event. Ludacris introduced Charlie Murphy who had about a 15 minute stand-up routine, then they brought out Sir Howard Stringer, Kaz Hirai, and Ludacris under guard with two PlayStation 3s.
The typical press conference ensued, along with photo shoots of all the players involved. They then mentioned that they had 5 lines, and that they will have everyone line up by wristband color, and have checkouts for each one, where you could select from a list of games, accessories, and system. They encouraged everyone to write their “order” on these printed sheets they had available all over the event, with the hope of getting everyone checked out quickly. Everyone started to get into line, then a different Sony rep started calling out each wristband number one by one. This proceeded to slow down the process to a crawl. There were still plenty of machines to play games, chat around the bar with free beverages, etc., so the wait wasn’t that bad. While I was waiting I had a roughly 3 minute interview with Ryan MacDonald, Executive Producer at GameSpot on their live coverage of the launch event. I had the chance to talk with Ryan and Ricardo Torres, Previews Editor at GameSpot for roughly 20 minutes after the event when we were in line finally purchasing our systems (at about 2-2:30AM). Those guys are on the go all over the world covering these events, and it was nice to talk to them about anything from games to the behind the scenes action that goes on to put on the show.
You can see the interview on GameSpot’s site here. It starts at around the 28:00 mark.
I also ended up in the background on Reuters Technology Week, however that content is no longer available. I guess it pays to wear a bright yellow shirt : )
Here’s the entire launch photoset on flickr.
After I checked out it was roughly 3 AM. I checked in on Andy, and he said that they were bringing in more units to have 1 for every person in line, and would sell at 7 AM. Since it was only 4 hours more, I stashed my PS3 in my car at an undisclosed parking garage, and went back to hang out. I ended up getting in line around 3:30 again, realizing that I could get one for the other friend that couldn’t make it. The line started moving at 7, and we were the last 20 or so in line, and finished up around 8:30AM. We ran back to the car, got out of the garage, and headed home. Several cups of coffee later, we made it back with a very eventful but successful trip!
And if you haven’t seen enough pictures, here’s a photoset of Unboxing / Setup of my PlayStation 3!