The next-generation console's debut is marked by long lines, stock shortages, parking-lot scalpers and the occasional success.
After years of speculation, months of hype, and a mixed bag of launch titles, the Xbox 360 is now officially on sale across North America. The chaos began on the East Coast mid-Monday, when an armed robber absconded with two units from an EB Games outlet in Virginia.
Later, legal purchasers of the console got their first crack at the console at 12:01 a.m. EST when Best Buy, GameStop, and EB Games opened their doors. Simultaneously at 9pm PST, the 360 also went on sale at Microsoft's Zero Hour event in the Southern California desert. However, the rest of the West Coast had to wait until various "Midnight Madness" sales.
At one Best Buy in suburban Seattle, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates showed up to help hand out 360s and engage in several not-so-impromptu Project Gotham Racing 3 sessions. "In the living room itself, Xbox 360 is our centerpiece and a product that redefines what goes on there," Gates told the Associated Press.
But for the vast majority of would-be purchasers, the quest for a 360 had less to do with visionary proclamations and more with rampant inconvenience--as well as the occasional anarchy. Problems were particularly prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area, where members of the tech-obsessed populace were already lining up outside stores on Monday afternoon. By noon Tuesday, GameSpot staffers who had not pre-ordered Xbox 360s witnessed sell-outs of the console at dozens of locations, including Fry's Electronics, Costco, Circuit City, and Game Crazy. At the Toys-'R-Us in San Francisco's Richmond district, which quickly ran out of its two-dozen-odd allotment of 360s, a hysterical woman demanded the manager come over to her house on December 25 to explain to her young son why he wasn't getting a Christmas present.
Microsoft's official retail partner for the 360 launch was Best Buy, which has several locations spread around the Bay. By 1pm PST Monday, 35 people had set up camp outside the Santa Rosa Best Buy just south of Sonoma, which expected to receive 190 systems; four hours later there were over 100 people awaiting the outlet's "Midnight Madness" sale. Farther south in San Carlos, a clerk at Best Buy was already discouraging callers from showing up at the witching hour, saying the crowd outside would soon exceed the store's total allotment of 80 360s. In Rosevile, a throng of 300 customers waited hours, only to find the outlet had a paltry 57 units in stock.
Full story (GameSpot)