What is it about a new video game console that will cause people to get up at 4:30 AM to wait in line in barely above freezing temperatures for just a chance at the next big thing?
“My sons”, answered Elinor C, the first in line at Game Crazy #135934 on Polaris Parkway in Columbus, Ohio on October 21st, 2006. “Their birthday is next week, and the Wii is going to be their belated birthday present. Normally, I wouldn’t do something like this, but since they’re willing to wait for the Wii, I couldn’t say no.” Her sons had better be very grateful, because their mom didn’t just wait out in the cold for 5 ½ hours for a video game system, she did it on her birthday.
Chad C., who got in line almost an hour after Mrs. C. said, “I have a 360, and I don’t want a PS3. The Wii looks like the most fun system of the three.” When I asked him why he doesn’t want a PS3, he responded, “There are no games coming near launch that make it a must-buy. And Blu-Ray isn’t worth it until the Blu-Ray & HD-DVD issue is put to rest.” He also said he’s buying The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Monkeyball, Madden, an additional remote, nunchucka, and a classic controller.
Patrick W., who arrived at 7:00 am, had lots of little reasons to want a Wii: his seven children. “Alex, Scott, Paul, Jeremiah, Liberty, Luke, and Ilena”, he said, “And me. It looks like a fun system that’s good for kids and adults. We’ve never had a Nintendo system before, being an Xbox and Xbox 360 family until now, but we wanted something a bit more kid friendly.” Mr. W. planned on pre-ordering an extra set of controllers and several kid friendly titles.
“The Wii just looks good”, said Jason B, “I usually buy all of the systems, but I’m not going to buy a PS3. I think Sony has gone a bit power mad, and I don’t really care about being involved in the format wars. I’m buying the Wii mostly because I hate missing out on games, and it looks like a good party system.” When it comes to what games he’ll be buying, Jason B. said “Until WarioWare and games like that come out, I’m buying Zelda because it’s the only launch title that really looks good. I don’t buy a lot of games new.”
One gentleman who arrived around 8 am was surprisingly candid about why he was in line in the cold. “This is my fifth Wii pre-order, and I’m selling them on eBay”, Ken H said. I asked if he was also pre-ordering PS3’s for resale, and he responded “I’m doing both. I’ve never done this before, but my brother did it for the Xbox 360 launch, and he made a lot of money doing it.” I then asked him how he felt knowing he was and possibly stopping those in line behind him from obtaining a unit at regular price on launch day. “It’s just supply and demand. I think most everyone who thinks to pre-order will get a console not long after launch, and if people want one without having to go on the net, they should come out and get in line.” He did add that he is planning on keeping one unit for himself, and that he has pre-ordered an extra controller and a copy of Zelda.
Around 9am, Game Crazy employees Heather and Zac arrived, with donuts in tow, offering warm Krispy Kremes to the cold and tired folks in line. Several of the folks in line took turns walking to the coffee shop to bring warm drinks to others waiting in line. And neither the cold nor the limited number of available units on launch day isn’t stopping gamers from lining up for a chance to pre-order. The line grew from 5 people at 8:30 AM to 21 people at 10:00 when the store opened.
The entire preorder process was orderly, and everyone remained friendly throughout. The two store employees handled the morning flawlessly, with a DVD of Nintendo game themes playing on an in-store TV while customers filed in. In fact, the only part of the process that wasn’t perfect was the sign stating that not everyone who pre-ordered was guaranteed a unit on launch day. This is of course the truth, as most stores are receiving less than 10 units in their initial shipments. However, with a lot of time left before the holidays, it’s likely everyone who lined up that day will have a Wii to open on Christmas morning.
Editor's Note: Given the situation that came out of this story I've removed the last names of those involved in this story.