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The Long Lines of Launch: We Nerds Gathered
game: Xbox 360
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: Microsoft
date posted: 12:36 PM Wed Nov 23rd, 2005
last revision: 02:33 PM Wed Nov 23rd, 2005

Click to read.The day of November 22nd was quiet. Peaceful. The last indication of the hectic adventures of the previous night had dissipated as the last of the hardcore gamers, those lucky enough to have found themselves an Xbox 360, finally succumbed to exhaustion and headed for bed.

By noon on the 22nd, if you didn\'t already own an Xbox 360, dropping $800 on eBay had become your last resort. The lines had dissipated, the systems had been taken home.

Microsoft\'s launch day of the 22nd was not the exciting time for Xbox 360 fans eager to get a unit early in the system\'s life-cycle.

As midnight approached on the evening of the 22nd, the story was entirely different. Hours before the midnight launch, reports started coming in that every retailer preparing to sell the Xbox 360 already had a line of eager customers greater than the number of units they had to sell. Basically, if you were still at home reading news reports on the Xbox 360 launch by 5:00, you weren\'t getting an Xbox 360.

The lines were not as pronounced at stores like Hastings and GameStop, which sold out their stock in preorders long before the units arrived. The final refuge of gamers desperate to get a system were stores like WalMart, which didn\'t take preorders. Xbox 360s were being sold on a first come, first serve basis.

The line for the Premium system sold out by 3:00; anyone arriving after that could stand in line, but getting an Xbox 360 was no longer an option.

The core took longer.

There were 13 chairs set out in a line. If you were sitting in a chair at midnight, you got a core system. If not, eBay was calling your name.

The last lucky gamer sat in the core line at 10:20 that evening.

PSP\'s and Nintendo DS\'s came out into the open. Someone swiped a $29 dollar bedside table from the furniture department for their poker game; an angry WalMart associate later made them put it back. By the 20th person asking why people were sitting in line, the crowd had taken to telling passers that they had been caught shop-lifting as a group, and were awaiting punishment.

\"You\'re crazy,\" mouthed one girl as she passed the line, obviously not as enamored with the Xbox 360 as others. \"This is for the Xbox 360? You\'re crazy.\"

She was one of the few girls there; the guy-to-girl ratio of the line was 10-to-1. Most of the girls present were girlfriends or tagging along for the ride; of the women we talked to in the line, not a single one had come by to purchase a game system for herself.

\"Not so crazy,\" one of the guys in the line said to his friend after she had passed. This particular gamer was in line for reasons other than games.

\"I\'ll get one somewhere down the line,\" he said, poker deck in hand, \"but I\'m getting this one to sell. They\'re going online for $800 right now.\"

His numbers are old, out of date. By 4 o\'clock in the morning of the 22nd, Premium systems were selling on eBay for an average of $1500 dollars. 53 bids. $1100. 47 bids. $2100.

One unit was selling for nearly $3000 with two packaged games, nearly 90 bids. Not a single premium system was selling for less than $1000 within an hour of the auction ending.

The cores were clearing for around $700.

24-hours later, those prices have dropped to only two or three hundred dollars mark-up. If you sold it quick, Xbox 360s were worth a fortune. If you were slow, they\'re worth a smaller fortune.

Other gamers were in line for the system themselves. Nearly everyone was taking home a second place prize; the Premium line filled up long before they got there.

Kaleb came in to take a seat immediately after he got off work, arriving when there were still 3 chairs available.

\"There were 12 (chairs),\" said one gamer, already waiting in line. \"Now there\'s 13. If you sit in that chair, you might get one.\"

He sat. Minutes later, he was joined by another gamer, Mike, there to pick up his Xbox 360 before returning to the middle east. Both considered themselves hardcore gamers; Mike owns an Xbox and over 100 games, and Kaleb owns over 50 Xbox titles, more than 40 on the PC, far more than the average console gamer.

In terms of the games he likes, Kaleb bucks the trends; where most would say that Halo or Halo 2 qualifies as their favorite game, Kaleb claims an affinity for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

\"I\'ve played through Buffy 6 times, twice on every difficulty setting. I also like Baldur\'s Gate on the PC.\"

When asked what games they were picking up for the 360, both Mike and Kaleb had different answers.

\"Project Gotham Racing 3,\" Kaleb said. \"And Perfect Dark. But I\'m buying the system for Mass Effect, when it comes out.\"

Mike had only one title in mind when he came to purchase his Xbox 360.

\"I was here for Elder Scrolls, but I read that got delayed,\" Mike said. \"Now it\'s Perfect Dark Zero or King Kong.\"

He paused, thinking.

\"Mainly I just don\'t think I\'ll be able to get the system overseas, so I\'m getting it now.\"

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