November 22, 2005 7:14 AM PST

Braving the chill for an Xbox thrill

Related Stories

The Xbox 360 rush is on

November 21, 2005

How to score an Xbox

November 19, 2005

Three million Xbox 360s in three months?

November 8, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO--Swaddled in sleeping bags and heavy winter coats, hundreds of devoted game fans camped in front of electronics stores early Tuesday morning waiting the arrival of Microsoft's Xbox 360.

For Shawn Beck, his experience scoring tickets to dozens of rock concerts prepared him for a night like this. Beck was ready to spend the chilly night sprawled out on the sidewalk in front of a San Francisco Best Buy store for a chance to buy Microsoft's latest game console. He and his girlfriend, Angie Ortmann, nestled inside an Eddie Bauer fleece-lined sleeping bag, swigged from a bottle of cabernet--to help stay warm--and watched the film "Weird Science" on their laptop.

Suddenly, a cheer went up along the line when someone whipped out poker chips and a deck of cards.

"Geez, I don't want to lose my Xbox money," Beck quipped. Later, the self-described video game "lifer" quietly acknowledged that he and his girlfriend weren't sure that Best Buy's stock would last long enough for them to get an Xbox. "This may all be for nothing," he lamented.

lining up for xbox

Microsoft has trumpeted the coming of the Xbox 360 for months, stirring up anticipation. Microsoft has also predicted that it will sell 3 million units within the first 90 days of the launch. This has led to speculation within the game community that there might not be enough consoles to go around and has helped ratchet up demand.

The scene of people slumbering on folding chairs or sprawled out on cold concrete played out late Monday night and early Tuesday morning in cities across North America, including Seattle, New York and Toronto.

That's because video games have taken on a cult-like status and fervor for gaming knows few bounds. Prices may rise; release dates for new games may get delayed; or consoles may get released in the wee hours.

No problem, say video game devotees. Just make sure that at the end of it all, they get to plug in and play. That is all they really want.

"I'm addicted to video games," said Cedric Horne, only half joking. A college student, Horne stood in line shortly before midnight at EB Games in downtown San Francisco and said that his night had just begun.

"I'm staying up and playing all night after I get my Xbox," said the 22-year-old Horne, as merchants along Powell Street began shuttering their stores for the night. "And I have to be at school at 8 in the morning."

Oscar Gomez stood in line just a few heads behind Horne at EB Games. He's an unlikely Microsoft customer in that he works for Sony, Microsoft's chief rival in the game market.

"You can't be a true gamer unless you play everything," said Gomez, 23, who works at the PlayStation store in the Sony Metreon, an entertainment hub in downtown San Francisco. "Besides, I'm only getting this to hold me over until PS3 (Sony's next game console) comes out next spring."

Not everyone was waiting in order to play with an Xbox.

Danny Rodriguez held vigil outside a pitch-black Best Buy parking lot at 1 a.m. so he could buy and resell an Xbox on eBay. He planned to pay $399 for an Xbox premium version. (The Xbox "core" unit retails for $299.)

"People are going crazy over this machine," said Rodriguez, 19, from Richmond, Calif. "I can make maybe three times what I pay for it."

Indeed, the market for Xbox 360 consoles was spiking on eBay on Tuesday morning, as dozens of premium Xbox units were being auctioned for $500 to $1,200.

But Rodriguez was in the minority Tuesday. Most people braved the cold and boredom because they couldn't wait to try out the latest Microsoft had to offer.

Chris Staudt, who works at a Borders Book store near Union Square wanted to be first in line at the EB Games store, even though he preordered his Xbox six months in advance and was assured of getting a console. Unfortunately for him, he was scheduled to work, so he sent friend Stacey Aguilar to wait in line for him. She held Staudt's place for four hours.

"That's a friend," someone in the crowd told Staudt.

His plan worked. Staudt joined Aguilar at the front of the line minutes before midnight, and he was the first person to walk out of the location with an Xbox.

Said Staudt: "I just didn't want to wait to play it. I'm taking it home and playing all night."

And by the sound of Staudt's enthusiasm, he may still be playing.


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Get a life, people.
This discomfitting enthusiasm for an expensive toy, when New Orleans remains largely a wasteland and too many Americans remain "Over There" seems to me a tad out of place. How about giving 1% of the profits to rebuilding New Orleans?

Corporate America ought to be promoting conservation and community, rather than mutliple-CPU devices and the spirit of unmitigated competition, both for unproductive toys like this, and in often violent gaming scenarios.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ah the sarcasm runs deep ;)
Posted by PerfectCr (17 comments )
Link Flag
Thats Funny
How about all those that WERE in New Orleans get JOBS and rebuild their own communities. If my home gets wasted by a tornado and I lose my job in the process, Do I call on the people of New Orleans to fix my home and find me a job? Or better yet, Do I just lounge around and collect YOUR tax dollars? How about I just ask the corporations to support me. Yeah, that'll work. NoT. I go get a job, and rebuild the damn thing myself. It may be an unproductive toy, but its things like this that make our economy go round. The iPod isnt the same way? My corporation does promote conservation and is incredibly active in many communities. Im sure most are more than we all know.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
What an effing soccer mom.
Seriously, who cares? People use games as a means for entertainment and escaping everyt day BS. I can honestly care less about what's going on in the world right now, it's the same old thing. Muslims blowing themselves up in public places, George Bush is a *******, New Orleands is screwed (it should just be napalmed considering the amount of waste and bacteria infecting everything down there now)

So, before going off on a useless diatribe of which you know nothing about, try thinking and keeping your wise-ass posts to yourself.

Thank you.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
First of all....
...lets just say that New Orleans has already gotten a whole freakin' lot of money. They got more money since it happened than 911 has so far. Second of all, who says what's a waste. I mean, anything entertaining could be considered a waste. We dont need movies or television. We don't need most of the things we have.
Posted by finalnate7 (2 comments )
Link Flag
First of all....
...lets just say that New Orleans has already gotten a whole freakin' lot of money. They got more money since it happened than 911 has so far. Second of all, who says what's a waste. I mean, anything entertaining could be considered a waste. We dont need movies or television. We don't need most of the things we have. The people that promote this stuff only make up for maybe a fraction of the many advertisers out there. The only difference is that they are one of the most listened to. Whatever sells, they make. Violence sells. And the reason that it's so popular in video games is because you can do it without getting into trouble. The media and any other industries are never interested in what children are being exposed to. Money is what it's all about.
Posted by finalnate7 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Gaming for simple people
Consoles were pretty cool when they first came out, but are outdated immediately after thier release. With all the games being created on computers, I think I'll save my money thanks.

Yeah, it may cost me more to buy a new video card everytime a new bleeding-edge game comes out, but I guarantee I'm playing those games years before consoles can support them.

The new PS3 is getting an Nvidia 7800GT video chip, but amazingly I've already got that card in my computer. By next year, I'll have the next generation video card that will play the next generation of games. Computers lead the way for consoles. I plan on riding the crest of the wave for the rest of my life, I will not be dumbed down to a console.
Posted by Mr. Network (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here's the problem
On average, it takes at least a couple of years for games to take advantage of the latest graphics cards. That's because of different computer configurations and not wanting to shut out those with slightly older equipment.

All game consoles of the same type, however, have the same hardware. As a result, there is no wattering down of the games necessary. Plus the games can take advantage of brand-specific graphics features that might not run well on another card.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
Will demand work against them?
How stupid you may think, surely if demand is sky high, they will reach their projected sales goals and all will be well, they will have the Christmas season to themselves, game over.

Now look at it like this.

Sure they will sell every unit - but if they don't guarantee restocking stores prior to Christmas they will lose the overall console war to the PS3.

Why? Because if you don't get one at 12.01am on Nov 22, are you going to hold on to your $400 and wait or are you going to spend it on something else?

As a parent, I'm going to spend it on something else, and because there will be no chance of getting one prior to Christmas, the pressure to get one at all is off. I even can wait until next year, when all 3 consoles will be readily available.

In fact, I won't even bother to try to get one now, because the self fulfilling prophecy of shortages has lead me to believe that getting my kids one this year will be impossible.

Self fulfilling prophecy? Oh yes, that one, the one that will generate all the bad feeling and annoyance, may even convince people to buy a rival's product, and the worst of it - it's not even Microsoft's fault.

It goes like this. There actually would have been an adequate supply so that people that really wanted one could have got one, except.

The media and stores have gone into overdrive, stiring up a "Furbie" style frenzie, so that parents that hadn't even considered getting a console, are now lining up with hardcore gamers, and stores are selling out in less than an hour - which they think is great.

So instead of people walking into the store tomorrow, Saturday or even weeks from now and picking up an XBox, millions of people that until a few weeks ago had no intention of buying their kids this particular Christmas present have caused a shortage.

I'm sure many people will argue that it doesn't matter, that the 3 million sales this year have won the war for Microsoft.

3 million is peanuts. Sony have sold one hundred times that in PS2s and they are still going strong. 4.5 - 5 million in 6 months is okay, but nothing special. Sony can produce 20 million units a year without stretching themselves. Double that if they ramp up production to meet demand.

So while this is more the media's fault rather than Microsoft's, I do feel they should have been more prominent in calming the fears of the parents of spoilt kids. They would still have sold there entire stock prior to Christmas, but done so in a more leisurely way, and more importantly caused a lot less bad feeling.

I'll leave this example for you. 100s of people in Anchorage lined up in every Walmart waiting for the launch, many of which stood in line for 14 hours or more.

Each store had eight units.

If I didn't feel sorry for the poor blighters I would be laughing.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Demand - just my opinion
You made a lot really good points and I agree with a lot of it but I would like take a little different approach to this. I worked for Best Buy for four holiday seasons and in the eyes of the retailers if you sell out your in great shape. The faster a store sells out the faster you will be replenished, I know that only works to the extent of the manufacturers supply but they actually take stock from other stores to fill the demands of the faster selling stores. Next to compare the PS2 sales to 360 sales is a little tough. I think the market was much different in that the PS2 was first to the market (I think), and the Xbox was untested and people were not really sure if Microsoft had what it took to make a good console. I think that question was answered and by being the first to the market with a fairly competitive priced unit they should be much better positioned this round. I personally think that when the PS3 is released you will see them lower the price to further distance themselves from what most believe will be a much more expensive PS3. It's really all opinion at this point but in the end most will buy the console with the best exclusive games. I think that was what really drove the PS2 and from what I've read about the development cycle for the PS3 that could make getting alot really amazing games really tough. Or I could be completely wrong about all of this.
Posted by (12 comments )
Link Flag
360 Availability
I went to 6 different places today and they were all sold out... When the PSP came out, the first day, I went to ToysRUS and they had about 30... If Microsoft can't provide adequate supply and talk about units not being available until January is true, then I might as well wait for the PS3 - So much for the 360's "Head Start".
Posted by labcondave (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
People Just cant wait can they.
Why is it so important that people must stand in line for 12 hours and pay too much for a new console. They could wait a couple of months and the price will drop and the console will actually be available for immediate pickup. Its still the same system, but youll get a better selection of games. Why are we all so desperate to have materialistic goods right away?
Posted by Masterchris11 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
must have syndrome
its called "I must have this now!"

People have spoiled themselves into having to have things at the time they want them.

Also, the media is what caused this 'shortage'. That, and instead of the usual one region at a time, the overall worldwide launch. You can bet Sony is taking notes on this.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Link Flag
Because people are stupid
Especially console gamers.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
CompUSA SCAM......Xbox 360 disappointment
Hey your article reminds me of staying out at the CompUSA store in Orem Utah,

From 5:30 P.M. Monday and waiting for the Xbox 360 to come out at 10:00 A.M the next day. A friend and I stayed in line all night when it was 20 F degrees. There were only 12 Xbox 360s in the store, and we were in line for the premium Xbox 360 and we were #8.

Let me tell you what happened&

We sat on the concrete for about 17 hours in front of CompUSA waiting for an Xbox 360. Then at 9:30 A.M. they opened the doors to hand out the Xbox 360 vouchers. I got voucher number 8. Everyone was happy. On the Voucher it said Congratulations on a guarantee for an Xbox 360 premium, you can come and pick up your Xbox 360 Premium Between the hours of 10:00 A.M. through 12:00 A.M., You are Guaranteed to get one then at the bottom of the voucher it had the CompUSA store managers signature.

My friend and I came back at 10:01 A.M. and I guess they opened early because everyone was inside.

I go in and hand them my voucher to get a Xbox 360 premium box. But the guy there grabs my voucher, and throws it away and says, It seems we are already out of Xbox 360 Premium boxes. So with my friend I said that we had one guaranteed voucher and you guys promised me one.

But the employee started getting nervous, and told the manager that we are trying to cheat out them out of an XBox360 and there lying so dont pay attention to them. And so we complained to the manager and his face turned red and said, oh boy and through up his hands and left. So two of us in line #7 and #8 to get a premium xbox 360 box. And they were all gone. Then we look down under the table and saw two XBox 360s Core boxes. All the people who were in the line all night with us were vouching for us that we were in line, and in front of them. So we said fine then we will purchase and xbox 360 core And they said no you must have a voucher to get a Xbox 360 Core, We are only taking vouchers for the 360s. So we stayed there until 12:00 P.M. then at 11:30 A.M. the people who took our xbox 360 premium boxs came back (we surmised because they were the only ones not part of the people that vouched for us) and took the Xbox 360 core boxes. So we complained some more.

So now we are going in the morning (23rd) to complain to some more people. Oh and now I have the Cold and Im sick. We assume that the guy that handed out the vouchers at the store (and who was the same guy that sold the boxes) was in on his buddies getting the extra premium Xboxs. We also believe all this was on the stores video tape that would prove our story.


David Mitchell
Posted by JetPacinator (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You waited all night to get a toy and you didn't get one.


Here have some cheese.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Dis-information,Transferring frustration
I have been in retail for 25 years and every time a new high demand, low supply product comes out the poor retailer gets to be the bad guy by some consumer who is disapointed. The real bad guys are the market forces that create the situation, more demand then supply. All the retailers who sold the product would like to have unlimited supply. But they don't and no matter how they try to be fair there is always someone who thinks they were treated unfairly. Think it through, why would any retailer want that kind of grief. If it was help a buddy, it sure wouldn't be done out in the open, nobody would ever know about it. Why would they expose themselves openly to such accusations. They would quietly remove the inventory out of system and nobody we would ever know. I have seen this with dozen of different retailers from Cabbage-patch dolls, to Apple products, to gaming systems. Trust me, there is no motivation to do it unfair. It's not reasonable. So if you must have a bad guy, blame Microsoft for short supply or blame the manufacturer for not killing his people off with 100hr weeks so you won't dissappointed. Or you grow up and realize it's just a game, and no one is out to get you. I'll bet there is another side the story.
Posted by earltami (1 comment )
Link Flag
No Xbox, not ever...
What a joke... people braving winter to buy some over hyped micro-pc... get a decent computer and you wont need a xbox. I had an original xbox to see what the hype was originally and returned it 2 days later, when I realized the games blew, and the hardware sucked. The other reason was that I had to break it open to get a game out, since the DVD broke apart in the system.

I am more than happy with my PS2, PS1, Dreamcast, Saturn, SNES, and NES...

Hell, my next gen console I just bought was a NES I refurbished! How's that for looking forward Micro$oft?
Posted by DemonicProphet (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The original XBox is pretty useful these days. Pick one up for $25-50 and turn it into a nice little linux server.

Far more useful then its original intent.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
yep, it happens
this kinda thing happens in more than just this kind of thing.

Its not what you know anymore, its who you know. The what you know can come later if you know the right people.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bill Gates Package = 2 Xboxes
This guy must be a Wal-Mart employee to be able to sell 2 Xbox 360s.

but i do like the Bill Gates Xbox Bundle.

<a class="jive-link-external" href=";item=8236921835" target="_newWindow">;item=8236921835</a>
Posted by amosxmos (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Listen to reason
Here is the bottom line. There are numerous people out there that waited a significant amount of time for this new system and they eventually got, for lack of a better word, "screwed." This was horrible for them. They were simply trying to quench their veritable thirst for their own style of entertainment and it backfired drastically. On top of it all they wrote their opinions on an internet site such as this to vent about the tragedy that just befell them and suddenly they are being ridiculed by countless people because this form of entertainment is either: A: So embroiled in gamer politics of PC vs. console or B: this form of entertainment is not considered mainstream or "cool" enough for most people. This is what I have to say about the latter: GROW UP!!! Several people have completely legitimate complaints of wrongful doing and bad customer service and then they have to hear from this peanut gallery which is comprised of a bunch of mindless zombies about how much of a whiny loser they are for enjoying a specific form of entertainment. Let me put it in different terms for you. What happens to the person that ridicules a gamer but is a huge fan of the NFL and all of a sudden after being guaranteed their superbowl tickets (from waiting in line for 12-24 hours) those same tickets are yanked from their grasp and they are told, "Sorry, but we had an internal problem within our ticketing agency." I think this group of people would be irate and rightfully so. But that's my point; these console gamers have the same right to vent about their issues with their customer service just as much as anyone else who has ever been between a "rock and a hard place" from attempting to quench their "entertainment thirst." So, be kind to others no matter what their personal pasttimes may be, it might be you next year with a bone to pick.
Posted by malakkhayel (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.