When Sony first showed off the PlayStation 3 at E3 2005, the world was in awe. Since then, Sony has seen its share of ups and downs. We have gone through delays, Executives inciting the rage of Internet Bloggers with their comments, shortages of product, rumors of high-priced games, the reality of the most expensive console since the 3DO, and still somehow the industry still feels the console will end up with the number one console in the video game world. So how does a company release the most expensive game console of this generation, upset Developers, anger the gaming population, lower the price of the console in Japan only, and still come out smelling like roses? It must be the power of the PlayStation brand. Any other console would never have survived. The recent pre-orders taken for the PlayStation 3 are an indication that while many feared Sony was possibly going to tank this generation, they may just win the war once again.
At 6:25 PM Central Time, I received an e-mail from GameStop.com stating that their limited pre-orders for PlayStation 3 would begin promptly at 10 AM the following morning. The pre-order would only take place on Tuesday, October 10, 2006, and there was a snowballs chance in hell that they would get further consoles in stock during 2006. At 6:40 PM, a manger from a local GameStop called and left me a message about the pre-orders. Then a clerk from that store called me 15 minutes after that. Reports are coming in that most GameStop stores were this active in trying to reach their "regular customers" in hopes of securing a PlayStation 3 for them at launch. However, I am unable to confirm with one hundred percent certainty outside of the Dallas/Ft Worth area.
Shortly thereafter the Internet was alive with talk of the PlayStation 3 pre-order campaign with multiple websites posting actual number of units available at stores and getting the hardcore gamers ready to go out and stand in line for a chance to pre-order a PlayStation 3. In years past, one would stand in line for a ride at an amusement park or to see a hit movie. However, it wasn't until the release of games like Halo 2 and the Xbox 360 where we saw people line up for a system or game. Now with the excitement over the PlayStation 3, people will now get in a line for a chance to possibly be able to pre-order a console.
GameStop and EB Games stores all opened up across the US at 10 AM to pre-order PlayStation 3 units to those waiting in line. Each store was allowed to have four units held for managers or employees of each store. These units were grabbed at virtually all stores to be sold on Ebay. Several stores told me off the record their plans to Ebay units. While there is no crime in doing this, I would rather see the store employees only pre-order a console if they plan on actually playing it.
Most stores had lines beginning early in the morning--some as early as 4 AM--and the lines continued to grow until the store opened. Most of the people in line--including the Editor of EGM--were turned away at the doors when the last pre-order unit was sold. This caused many people to go away unhappy and frustrated. But unlike the Xbox 360 pre-order campaign, GameStop and EB are promising that the consoles will be guaranteed... at least they are doing so off the record. The officially company line is that they do not promise or guarantee delivery of consoles on November 17, 2006. This is probably a smart thing to do just incase there are any shortages.
The main store I visited in my area, which I would prefer not to name directly due to the Store manager wishing to remain anonymous, did not have a huge crowd lined up before the store opened. However, by 11 AM, all but one pre-order spot was taken. This particular store was given the highest number of PlayStation 3 units to pre-order.
While there are many disappointed people that were unable to pre-order units, this is a sign of things to come on November 17, 2006. Expect the PlayStation 3 to sell out all across the US within a few hours of each store opening. It is unclear how many units GameStop has been able to secure for their stores... but just be ready for even longer lines and high prices on Ebay if you want a PlayStation 3 this holiday season.