The Xbox 360 Launch: Sour Grapes
November 21, 2005

My crusade for the Xbox 360 began a few months ago, when I went to local merchants and tried to pre-order the system. I was too late; they weren’t accepting money anymore because they couldn’t guarantee that systems would arrive. Weeks later, I heard that they started refusing gamers’ cash too late. Many who pre-ordered are screwed, just like me.

And when I say I’m screwed, what I mean is that I can’t get my hands on an Xbox 360. I’ll be waiting weeks, just like the rest of you, because Microsoft made the hugest blunder in its history by deciding on a worldwide launch. The result? Instead of irritating a few gamers in America on launch day, they’ll spread out the system so that everyone can gripe together throughout the world!

Make no mistake: people will be griping. To put it mildly, this allocation system sucks. You want a system? You’d better have a warm sleeping bag, some mittens and a heavy coat. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have a gun or knife, or some other means with which to defend yourself.

Today, I came home from work for lunch and gave the local Wal-Mart a call. They’re open 24 hours to serve me better. I got in touch with the electronics department, where a young-sounding clerk answered the phone.

“Hey,” I said, “are you putting Xbox 360 units out on the shelves at midnight?”

“Yeah,” he said, sounding tired. I’m sure he’d already had the question a few hundred times today.

I waited for the “but,” which soon followed. “There’s already a huge line,” he added.

“And how many did you get in?” I asked.

“Not as many as there are people standing in line.”

Keep in mind that this was at the point of my lunch break, which to be fair was 2:30. So, people were ready to stand around nine and a half hours for a system. I decided to get it somewhere else.

When I got off work tonight at 7:00, I came home and picked up my wife. We then began to make the rounds at stores, though she was much, much, much more anxious to get herself some yarn. You know, because if there’s a massive demand for the Xbox 360, there’s almost certainly a throng of people that would kill to get their hands on yarn.

The first store I checked was the local ShopKo. It’s a chain of stores that’s pretty small, and usually you can get games that are sold out elsewhere in town. No such luck this time. As I headed to the front door, I saw a sign posted that advised that they are getting only 12 units in. They’ll be handed out to the first 12 people in line. I looked off to the left and there was already a good group gathered, bundled for the cold.

I got back in the car and told my wife, who wasn’t particularly impressed. At that point, she was still worried about getting her yarn. She complained all about wanting yarn while I drove to the next store, Best Buy.

There was a group camping outside that store already, so I didn’t even bother checking. They all looked pretty cold, since it was at this point 20 degrees outside. It was also sleeting, and the temperature was plummeting. Those people are in for a long night.

So I went next to the store so my wife would get her yarn and stop complaining. With that accomplished, we headed over to Target. She was now happy because the important thing was accomplished: she had her damn yarn.

When I went into the Target store, there were no campers outside. I figured there had to be a catch. Maybe they were lined up inside and the store was staying open through midnight for the rush? No. I checked with the employees and they said that although they are getting the Xbox 360, Microsoft isn’t allotting enough units to anyone. They said they’re not recommending camping, but that they won’t do anything to people who go that route (wink, wink) so long as it’s after 11:00 (otherwise, it’s loitering).

“Screw that,” I said to myself. “I’m not waiting outside while the wind chill and temperature drop like crazy.”

Now, my wife realized that yarn wasn’t really so important. We needed to go by work to say hello to her coworker friends. So, since it was on the way to the next store I wanted to try, we did just that. She said hello to her friends. One of them mentioned that she’s going to have an Xbox 360 at midnight, because her boyfriend was dropped off at Wal-Mart a few hours ago and will get her one. She looked like she felt pretty clever, and she wasn’t happy to learn that the poor guy was left behind a few hours too late to accomplish anything of the sort.

My wife and I left a short time thereafter, and this time we went to Fred Meyer’s, a store that I only go to for electronics as a last resort. I didn’t even have to go in. People were camped outside, near a sign with instructions about how you’re allowed to anticipate the 360: one line only, out in the cold. The sign also advised that it had the same stock that ShopKo did. There were at least that many people seated around the benches and such, freezing their butts off and waiting for morning.

At this point, there was only one place left to go: Costco. I got there as they were closing, and they said they won’t be getting any Xbox 360 units, but that I could find them online. So, I went home and began searching online. Costco’s site didn’t have any listed, Wal-Mart’s site was sold out, Best Buy’s site took forever to load and never even offered one. only had bundles through its ToysRUs affiliation. K-Mart had no systems listed online. And so it went, one merchant after another.

This brings me to the obvious conclusion: Microsoft is a company filled with complete idiots. I thought for a long while that this was the system Microsoft would use to change its approach to games, to really jump into the game running and dominate over Sony. However, this is the worst shortage I’ve ever seen. It’s not a shortage because of overly high demand, either. It’s only the diehard that are waiting around outside, freezing their butts of for a system. That wouldn’t even be necessary but for one thing: there just aren’t enough units out there.

Maybe Microsoft is trying to generate artificial hype. Maybe the company just released the system too early. Maybe the global launch really is the cause here. Whatever the case, this is enough to severely piss me off. A company of Microsoft’s side shouldn’t be able to make such a monumental blunder. They should have the resources to get enough units out the door, and they should use those resources. Graaaagggghhhh!

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asherdeus asherdeus - November 21, 2005 (10:34 PM)
I hear you, man.

I have a 360 on pre-order. Full-paid. Several games. Extra controller. A couple of those rechargable battery packs. The works.

You know when I'm getting mine?

Neither does EB.

And I work there.

For five years.

Yet, I see that TRL has enough Xbox 360 systems that they can just give them away to random people. People that probably don't care as much as the guy who put 600 dollars worth of cash down to buy the system a few months ago. I see that Comedy Central has enough that they're giving away one an hour every hour of this holiday weekend. Yet, I have 600 dollars worth of money that I saved up for months on a system, money I was saving for a PS3, and I don't even know when I'm getting a system. Pepsi has enough systems that they can give them away every ten minutes. I wonder if I'll even get one two weeks from now, and I've paid for it.

It's fucking stupid. I know, Microsoft is trying to build up hype by putting all these promotions out there, I understand that. But when you have loyal fans that have paid for the system months in advance, fans that have been paying attention to the system for nearly a year, talking about it, imagining it, anticipating it, and they can't get there system at launch and you have no straight answer for them other than, "well, wait," then you're seriously fucking over your fanbase. Microsoft seems to have forgotten that it wasn't casual gamers that initially made the Xbox popular, it was the people who took a chance, the hardcore gamers who picked it up early, the store clerks (me) who pushed it at the holidays over the PS2 to confused parents, and those are the people that made the Xbox a success, not Pepsi.

Since a lot of my money for the system came from trade-ins, I can't just get my money back either. So now, I'm stuck waiting for a system. If you think about it, Jason, it's actually Microsoft's loss. Our sites both draw in a good number of hits, and I'm sure that you were planning on covering as much of it as you possibly could as quickly as possible, just like I was. Microsoft's losing out on probably 50,000-75,000 visitors reading about their system between us.

How long has Microsoft been preparing for this launch?
honestgamer honestgamer - November 22, 2005 (12:30 AM)
Yeah, I was definitely planning on covering the Xbox 360 like nobody's business. It's not like I can really afford a purchase like this right now, but I got the money together and I'd love to take home an Xbox 360 right now so HG can cover it. Microsoft really needs to get its priorities in line if it wants to dominate (and we know it does).
midwinter midwinter - November 22, 2005 (04:26 AM)
HAH and there's little old me, walking into a store the day before the Xbox 360 is released here, no camping, no lines, and walking out 5 minutes later with a unit under my arms. I like to bitch and moan about the system's lack of Japanese support, but sometimes such things pay off. Woohoo for me and the other, soon to be Xbox 360 owner living here.

Re the promotions, I think you'll find that winners will only receive a promise to get an Xbox 360 once stocks are available. I doubt Pepsi and those guys would have those sorts of numbers on hand and ready to ship.
asherdeus asherdeus - November 22, 2005 (07:07 AM)
I've talked to people who've won it online and they actually have had their systems since Friday.
Genj Genj - November 22, 2005 (09:06 AM)
I saw a huge ass line at Best Buy (around 7:30 am) this morning on my way to Biology. Later I went to pick up something to play over the break (Drakengard) at EB and there were so many fucking people calling up and coming in looking for 360's. Seems like there's a demand for it here. Silly Microsoft.

I should try winning one from Comedy Central. I'd probably have better odds than finding one in a store.
True True - November 25, 2005 (12:38 AM)
That's insanity. I have to commend you for not buying into the hype of "if I wait in line patiently I'll get one" like the great tickle me elmo fiasco of '94. 360 or not that is just madness. I would never wait in that kind of line for anything.... well except to meet Adrianna Lima but who wouldn't?

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