There was a lot of ugliness connected with both the Japanese and U.S. PS3 launches last year, and European authorities don't want a recreation of that crime for their launch on March 23. GamesIndustry.biz spoke to a representative for the Marylebone Police, and it's clear they're concerned about unsavory activity.
The article mentions one particular event that's starting to get the police a little antsy: a midnight celebration of the launch at the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street. Evidently, authorities have held meetings with both Sony and Virgin as to how to handle the crowds, and they've already said they won't be allowing the anticipatory gamers to spill into the street. Still, police remained concerned about the safety of new PS3 owners traveling to and from the store, especially when the bags they're carrying are painfully obvious…gee, wonder what that guy just bought?
Sony has told GamesIndustry.biz that they're "doing everything possible to work with Virgin and the police," so as to make the fun event as safe as possible. So they're not canceling anything, but don't expect to see a big ol' free-for-all, because it appears the police are going to keep a careful eye on the proceedings. They're giving out some tips to consumers, like arriving and leaving with a group of friends, placing the PS3 into an unmarked bag, etc. Be careful out there, Euro gamers! Some people just don't like to play by the rules.
However, we'd like to add our own opinion: the Japanese and U.S. had to suffer through outrageous shortages for the launch, which leads to ridiculous prices and demand, which of course leads to criminal activity. If something is that rare, and people are willing to pay just about anything for it, the slime of humanity comes out to play. For the European launch, they're not facing anywhere near the same situation; while the system will certainly be in demand, Sony may have shipped enough to keep the insanity of theft and all-out assault to a minimum.