November 17, 2006 4:28 AM PST

PlayStation 3 comes to San Francisco

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"It's very exciting," said Phil Harrison, PlayStation's president of worldwide studios. "Through all the internal meetings and all the Sony internal stuff you do, what matters is the people lining up on the streets to spend money on what you do. And that is extremely gratifying."

Of course, Harrison added, launch is not the end of the road for the PlayStation team.

"Launch is just a moment in time," he said. "An important moment, but just the beginning of?a 10-year cycle."

As excitement raged alongside the Metreon, it was a much more subdued scene farther down the line. Which was really the far end of line No. 3, since Sony had split the 1,000 or so PS3 buyers into three separate queues.

There, Mark Brockway and his wife were waiting patiently, hoping they were going to be able to buy a PS3. Brockway said he'd called Sony and had determined the Metreon, rather than a nearby Best Buy or Target, was the place to go to try to get one of the consoles.

That's because the PlayStation store at the Metreon had an allotment of several hundred PS3s, compared with just dozens at many other retailers.

But Brockway was not guaranteed a PS3. And that seemed fair given that he had arrived in line at about 7 p.m. Thursday.

He said his PS3, if he got one, was for a friend. But he also said his kids were serious gamers.

"We usually get about 15 kids (coming over to play games) every weekend," Brockway said.

I went back inside the PlayStation store for a prearranged interview with SCEA's senior vice president of marketing, Peter Dille. He basically said the same things most of the other PlayStation executives had said to me all year in discussion after discussion.

What was interesting, though, was his answer when I asked how Sony feels about the fact that many of the PS3 buyers here were going to turn around and instantly try to sell their consoles for massive profit on eBay or Craigslist.

"We don't condone it," Dille said. "We'd rather that people buy them through retailers. But we also know it's what happens?And part of it is completely flattering, for people to pay multiples (of the retail price)."

Meanwhile, as reporters swarmed Toribio and his friends, Edwards was clearly feeling nostalgic for the kind of attention he'd gotten when he was first in line a year ago at the Xbox 360 launch.

And given how close he was to the front of the queue, it was evident to me that Edwards takes his place in line at these launch events very seriously.

So I asked him why he wasn't first.

"I took my daughter to school (Wednesday)," Edwards said. "That's the only reason I'm not No. 1."

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