It’s now November 22, 2005, 12:25 AM. Xbox 360 launch day.
About 35 minutes ago I drove over to my nearest Wal-Mart. There was a small group of guys standing and/or sitting outside the main entrance. “Are you in line for the Xbox?” I asked.
“Yeah,” the last in line replied. “They’ve got ten — and you’re number ten.”
“But they’ve got two premium systems,” he continued, “and eight core packages.”
That was about 11:53. I waited, thinking that perhaps the people standing out in the cold were somehow misinformed, or that an ill-intentioned Wal-Mart employee had fed them a line. At 12:01, the person in charge came out, locked half of the doors, counted us, and told us that there were ten systems. I yelled up to him, “Do you only have two premium systems?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
I stood there for about one more minute, then decided to catch up with number eleven in line (who had left, dejected) and give him my spot. I haven’t waited for this just to get a Core System, then blow another $140 bucks on a hard drive and a wireless controller, just to have people come over to my crib and ask why my disc tray isn’t chromed out.
So I drove to Best Buy. Behind the automatic sliding doors employees had affixed black sheets to hide the magic inside from onlookers. I guess. Or maybe they do that every night. A couple of people were asking for jumper cables, and then an employee asked me if I was there for the Xbox 360. “Yeah.”
“Talk to the man in there.”
I started for the narrow gap in one set of sliding doors. Before I got too close, a man emerged from behind the black curtain. “You’re here for the Xbox 360?”
“What’s your name?”
“Your last name?”
“P-r-e-m-o.” Members of the Premo family are accustomed to this sort of exchange.
“P-r-e-m-o. Okay. I’ll put your name on the list.”
“What do I have to do?”
“At six AM we’ll be handing out tickets based on the order your name is on the list. Then at nine we’ll be opening the doors and giving systems to people with tickets.”
“Will it be a premium system or a core system?”
“That depends on the other people on the list. This store is getting 58 systems.”
“So 55 out of 58 — that’s probably going to be a core system.”
“I’d say probably” — and the guy hesitates for a second, like there’s even the possibility that this store got 55 premium systems and only three core packages — “it’ll be a core package.”
So I won’t be getting up bright and early to go to Best Buy. I refuse to buy a core system, even if I have to wait until January. Supposedly more systems will be shipped every week. I won’t be surprised to get a premium pack next week. God knows Gamespot and Joystiq will commit coverage to additional shipments through Christmas.