The big news in the video game world today is the release of the XBox 360 video gaming system. It's not really news, the launch day has been known for a while now, but the press is giving it plenty of coverage. One reason is that there appears to be a shortage of units. Whether this is a real shortage or a clever marketing ploy to drum up excitement is unclear, but the end result is that video game fans are clamoring to get their mitts on a 360. I've read several blog posts from folks who spent all of 11/21 (day before launch) researching which stores were getting units, how many, and where to line up to get one when the stores opened on 11/22. Some stores had midnight openings, while others maintained regular hours. Much like the stories of people camping in line for first showings of Star Wars, XBox 360 customers were lining up in the evening to endure long hours of waiting. And not all of the campers got their new toy. Most stores were supplied with either 10 or 40 units. There are two packages, the core system (the game system and one controller), and the premium package (includes a wireless controller, hard drive, high definition package, headset, and other goodies). The core package runs $300, and the premium package a cool $400. It gets worse though. Some vendors won't sell just the console, but sell "bundles". The bundles add a couple of games to the package, and maybe an extra face-plate, and jack the price up several hundred dollars. Gamestop has one of the most egregious examples with their Omega Bundle: $2000!!!!
Limit one per customer of course.
It doesn't look like the situation is going to get much better either. Many retailers won't receive enough units to even satisfy their pre-order commitments before Christmas. Savvy buyers lucky enough to actually own a system are going to be mighty tempted to turn around and sell it on eBay. I just saw an auction for one of the core systems (retail $300 remember) going for $1,200!!! Let's say you did the hard footwork and stood in line for 8 hours to get that core system. If you can sell it for $1,200, that means you got paid $112.50 an hour to stand there. That's some good pay for standing around. Of course, someone else figured that out too and started a "rent-a-camper" service. You paid the camper $X an hour to stand in line to get your XBox. Good grief.
Personally, I'm not all that excited about the new system. By all accounts, it is visually impressive, but a lot of reviews say it isn't enough to warrant forking over the dollars to upgrade. The games available right now aren't receiving a lot of great press either. In fact, the folks over at Joystiq had more fun playing the old-timey arcade games on the XBox Live service than they did the new titles. I'm satisified to wait until the price comes down and more interesting games come out before I want one.