Last week Sony transformed London’s OXO Tower to look like a PlayStation controller and not to be outdone, today Microsoft has gone one better.
The Washington-based firm has taken over the whole of London’s Leicester Square and renamed the landmark Xbox One Square.
A giant Xbox stage has been built for the first ever live concert in the square tonight, signs have been replaced and people have dressed up as game characters to celebrate the midnight launch of Microsoft’s new Xbox One console.
Thousands of gamers are expected to queue in tonight’s rain to buy the follow-up to 2005’s Microsoft Xbox 360.
The console costs £429.99 and comes with a redesigned, advanced Kinect motion sensor.
A number of fans, VIPs and journalists were given tickets to the launch event in Leicester Square and a number surprise celebrity guests are expected.
There will be similar events taking place in New York and Los Angeles featuring music from Deadmau5 and rapper Macklemore.
The console goes on sale at 500 shops across the country, including 300 Game stores which will open at midnight especially for the launch.
Queues began forming at 7.30am outside Game’s Xbox store in Shoreditch and other similar queues were spotted at the Westfield Stratford store.
Tesco is also planning to start selling the consoles on a first-come first-served basis at more than 100 of its Extra stores from midnight.
However, not everyone will be able to get their hands on the must-have gadget.
Flashy: Part of the set up features a sports car on a round stage. Around 500 retailers will start selling the new console at midnight
Amazon announced earlier this month that pre-orders up to 13 November would not arrive before Christmas and retailers are warning there will be a shortage.
The Xbox One is going head-to-head with Sony’s new PlayStation 4, which goes on sale in the UK next week at £349.99 – £80 cheaper than its rival.
The Xbox One plays games, videos and is called an ‘entertainment device’ rather than a gaming console.
While the new Kinect has had a number of upgrades. Its new cameras and sensors are so sensitive that they can pick up a user’s heart rate from minute changes in the colour of their skin.
Users can also build up a 3D scan of their face, which is then used to create a personal avatar or games warrior.
The console is the first new Xbox to launch in eight years, while Sony has not updated its PlayStation since 2007.
Phil Harrison, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, said: ‘We’re proud and excited that Xbox One is going to be the biggest launch in Xbox history.
Trying it out: A gamer plays the console on a giant screen in the Square earlier today
‘Xbox One is a complete, all-in-one system which has the best games, the best online service in Xbox Live, the best entertainment experiences and is built for the future. Pre-orders from fans across the UK are at unprecedented levels.’
Tesco’s Home Entertainment Manager, Stephen Owusu, said: ‘The launch of the Xbox One is a massive event for millions of gamers around the world and the console is sure to top many Christmas present lists this year.
‘The last Xbox console – the Xbox 360 – was launched eight years ago so there has been a lot of expectation and talk from gamers about this latest version. If the U.S. launch is anything to go by these will fly off the shelves.’
Microsoft unveiled its Kinect sensor, pictured top, as part of its Xbox One event in June. The sensor will be sold with the new console, pictured centre, and both were available from midnight at stores across the UK
Microsoft’s next-generation Kinect sensor is able to detect and monitor a person’s heart rate from around four feet away – without touching them. As blood passes through a person’s body, the skin changes colour ever so slightly. The camera can recognise these changes to establish how fast the blood is pumping.