For many 22 February was Cat Day in Japan, but for video game fans it meant something much greater. This was finally the day Japanese gamers could get their hands on Sony’s next-gen console, the PlayStation 4.
Prior to this, at the Sony Building in Ginza a celebration was to be held where 100 people who purchased their consoles in advance would get a chance to be the first person to own a Japanese-sold PS4.
The tickets were handed out at 11:00 in the morning of 21 February for the event which took place that evening. Our own first Docomo iPhone5 buyer in Japan, Mr. Sato was hoping to make lightning strike twice and got in line for tickets two days in advance.
■ The line-up
Knowing that this was a highly limited event Mr. Sato gathered up his battery packs and long underwear for another cold night in line in front of the Sony Building. He arrived there at about 1pm on the day before tickets were to be issued. It seemed he wasn’t early enough though as he ended up ninth in line. This was okay, though. The first PS4 would be given out by lottery among the ticket holders so Mr. Sato still had a chance.
By morning the tickets were distributed to the first 30 people while the rest went home dejected. It all finished shortly after 11am on the 21st which meant Mr. Sato had lots of time to find stuff to eat until the doors opened at 10:30pm that night.
■ Media frenzy
The event took place on the 8th floor of the Sony Building. Everything was colored in a PS4-blue motif. There must have been about 100 members of the press packed up against the wall and eager to cover this new console war as it broke out in Japan.
The celebration began with a greeting by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan President Hiroshi Kawano and Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida. After, a cavalcade of celebrity video messages were played featuring the likes of Takanori Nishikawa, as well as bands Scandal and Fujifabric.
There were also a couple celebrity exhibition matches of FIFA14 and Killzone. Finally, game producers like Hideo Kojima and Shinji Hashimoto spoke words of congratulations for the new release. It was about an hour and a half of talks but Mr. Sato thought everything went by quickly.
Before he knew it a large countdown timer started for the last minutes until midnight of 22 February and the official release of the PS4 in Japan.
■ And the PS4 goes to…
President Kawano reached into a box to pull out the number for the lucky owner of the first Japanese PS4. Mr. Sato’s heart was racing but quickly sunk when his number was not called.
The winner was a college student who went by the handle Nekomi and was dressed up in camouflage and carrying a couple of guns. Mr. Sato also recognized him as the guy at the front of the line the day before. Actually, he had been waiting there since 19 February so it seemed fair that he get it. The first console was handed over by SCE CEO Andrew House.
The lucky bastard even got it signed by Hideo Kojima.
■ Move stole the show
Although slightly bummed Mr. Sato walked away from the chaos of everyone claiming their PS4 machines and notice a man dressed up as the PlayStation’s Move motion controller. The outfit was rather intricate with realistic looking buttons and pink ball on top.
Mr. Sato recognized him as Pyokotan, a cartoonist who once made news by going to the Sony general shareholders meeting dressed as Mario. He was much more appropriately dressed this time though, and got compliments by many people on the Sony staff that night. Even when walking in, Pyokotan Move was blinded by the dozens of flashes from the media gallery.
Mr. Sato and Pyokotan exchange pleasantries and sympathized with each other for not getting the first Japanese PS4. Then they went to pick up theirs and head home to try and find another piece of electronics they could be the first to buy in the nation.
Original article by Mr. Sato
▼ Blue glow-in-the-dark wristbands were distributed to participants.
▼ Bottles of water were also given out with the release date “PS4 2.22” printed on them. Inside was Volvic, a brand of water in Japan.
▼ There was a number for the draw to choose the first PS4 owner as well as a sheet to predict the winner of the exhibition matches.
▼ Waiting at the entrance of the event venue.
▼ The decor was a uniform blue color like the image of the PS4.
▼ Participants also received a special towel.
▼ The event started at 10:30pm on 21 February.
▼ Greetings from the president of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida and president of SCEJ Hiroshi Hebei.
▼ Celebration video messages from Shota Shimizu, Takanori Nishikawa, Amemiya, and Akina Minami.
▼ Yuna Shirakawa & Travis (SCE) VS Baikingu & Daisuke Ishidate (SCE) in a Killzone Shadow Fall match. The winning team was Shirakawa and Travis.
▼ Next matchup was Mayuko Kawakita and jengaman VS Shoji Jo and Maiki in FIFA14 World Class Soccer.
▼ Jo and Maiki won, but Maiki never really made plays so it seemed like Jo won that alone.
▼ Celebratory bottles of sake from the producer and director of SEGA’s Ryugatoku (Yakuza), Masayoshi Yokoyama.
▼ Congratulations from Square Enix producers Naoki Yoshida and Shinji Hashimoto.
▼ And the last guest creator was Hideo Kojima known for his Konami masterpiece the Metal Gear Solid series.
▼ Finally it was time to draw for the first purchase.
▼ Nekomi (nickname) was chosen.
▼ It was handed to him personally by SCE CEO Andrew House.
▼ The place was packed with media.
▼ He even got Kojima to sign it. It’s hard not to be jealous.
▼ His winning pose. Nekomi might have become a little unhinged after waiting two days in line.
▼ Pyokotan was there dressed like a Move controller. Unfortunately he couldn’t get the first PS4. But he was able to get one just a little later.
▼ Everyone at the front of the line were able to get their PS4’s too.
▼ Scheduled to debut on 6 March, the upcoming gamer idol group “Game Girls” got theirs too.
▼ Where there was once a countdown timer in front of the Sony Building it now says “On Sale.”
[ Read in Japanese ]