Launch Day Tales: Let’s Hear ‘Em

It’s the middle of Tuesday afternoon, and I should be playing World of Warcraft.  I intended to be playing it; I preordered the Collector’s Edition ages ago.  However, because I love the game soundtrack, the behind-the-scenes DVD and a few other perks, I chose to go hard-copy instead of digital.  And now, as I wait more than twelve hours after the launch of the game, I pay for it.  

Seriously, though, I’m not all that upset.  I knew I ran this risk when I decided to go for the Collector’s Edition; I made the same choice back when Cataclysm came out.  Half a day’s difference will not mean that much in the long run, and a little waiting is good for everyone.

That’s gotten me thinking about the excitement of launch dates in general, and games in particular.  In my earliest days of console gaming, I was years behind the times, literally.  I wasn’t aware of launch dates, and even if I had been I probably wouldn’t have bought a game at brand-new prices.

Once I got into college and beyond, though, I stood in line with fellow gaming geeks more than a few times.  And sometimes I tried to avoid doing that altogether.  Take Guitar Hero II, for example; a few days before the launch I shamelessly batted my eyes and convinced the guy at a dying electronics chain to go check and see if the game was in stock yet (it was, and they sold it to me).   I think a lot of copies were sold early around the world; by the time the next game came out most stores were more aware of such things.  Not that I didn’t give it the ol’ college try.  At multiple stores.

Rock Band launched while I was visiting my mother in a rural area, and I learned something invaluable then: don’t go to the Wal-Mart with every teen in town; go to the K-Mart that everyone has forgotten.  This type of advice works for Black Friday, too, by the way, and most other “hot” items.

But even in the instances where I didn’t try to get around the system, I’ll admit it: I still had a pretty fun time hanging out in line with other fans, trading bits of gossip and generally just getting amped up about the new product.  Yeah, it might have earned me funny looks from random passers-by, or scoffs from friends who chose to get their stuff online, but I have memories, even fond ones, from the experiences.  Going the preorder route for this Collector’s Edition was pretty much my only option, and the only memory I’ll have from this is being annoyed with the UPS guy.

Not to say that one way is necessarily better than the other; if waiting in line provides a fuzzy glow of camaraderie, nothing stings like going through all that and not getting what you came for (and then getting to see all the happy lucky people).  Ordering online gives a certain amount of security that might well outweigh any fond memories.

Anyway, now that I’ve confessed that I’ve flirted for an extra day of Harmonix goodness, I want to hear your launch day stories.  Ever make new friends while waiting in line?  Witness a near-riot for a new console?  Go for the same game as your arch-nemesis?  I might not be standing in line outside a store somewhere for this WoW launch, but that doesn’t mean we can’t trade battle stories over the glow of the computer screen.  And if your best tales are about concert tickets, books, movie seats, etc, I’ll gladly take those too!

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