I've never gone to a midnight launch. I didn't go for Halo 3, I passed on the Wii, and I wasn't going to go to the Grand Theft Auto IV one either. Standing in the cold dark amongst a group of pushy teens while sales clerks take their sweet time to let you in? No thanks. I'd rather be home and warm, thank you.
That was how I used to feel, and the little voice inside my head (you know, the one little voice you actually should listen to?) told me that this time should be no different. So what did I do? Yep, I ignored my instincts and went against my better judgment, and I grabbed some old games for trade-in and headed down to the mall at half past eleven. My thinking was that GTA IV was a game worth getting, and my not having to be at work early the next day would still give me plenty of time to play even if I got home late.
So there I was, standing in a crowd of about sixty people who all want exactly the same thing as me. Sixty loud and pushy people who only wanted to cram themselves through the one open door that was viciously guarded by a savage rent-a-cop. This Gamestop store doesn't have a street entrance, so you have to be let into the mall to get to it. That should have been my first clue. Malls in Puerto Rico - or at least this particular one - close at seven (!) on a weeknight, so being here at midnight seemed almost surreal for me. At least it did until the menacing specter of Puerto Rican inefficiency reared its ugly head and reminded me that my situation was all too real.
First of all, there was no organization to the line whatsoever. Logic would dictate that there should have been someone receiving the gamers as they arrived and filing them into a single line along the wall next to the door. This would have established order and allowed for full control of the door by only a single guard. Instead, they just let everyone dog pile around the door and push like fevered lemmings every time it was opened. I never had to even try to move, as people behind me would push me towards the door whenever it was time to let more people in.
There was a single guard watching the door, and he would let gamers in ten at a time. Another guard would escort them down the mall passage to Gamestop, where three (yes, three) more guards placed them in line outside the store and stood watch. Inside, three sales clerks worked like mad to process each sale quickly so they could go home as soon as possible. Things were pretty orderly inside the mall, but they fucked up again with the line of gamers coming out of Gamestop. We had to sit and wait for everyone in our group to buy their game before we could leave, and I was number three. That meant that I had to wait for seven others. Had there been someone controlling the line outside the mall, they could have easily let people in five at a time and had a constant flow of customers that would have made the sale go much quicker.
That's my biggest gripe, I guess. This particular Gamestop has done multiple midnight launches before. Why then, was this still so unorganized? You'd think they'd have their shit together by now. I did manage to get my copy of the game for the Xbox 360, so I'm happy. I also did better than expected since a nice guy in line behind me offered $40 for my copy of Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, a full $10 more than Gamestop would have given me. I quickly plucked the game from the counter and told the clerk not to include it, and instead of having to pay the difference, I actually walked out with $3 in my wallet! That's almost enough for a Whopper combo!
I now know what I've been missing in regards to midnight launches, and I can confidently say that this will by my debut and finale. I could easily have snagged a copy of GTA IV today without all the stupid pre-order hassle, and I only did it to get an extra 20% of trade-in value towards Rock Band, which was replaced and works fine now! I'll chalk this one up to curiosity, and now that it's sated, I have no desire to pursue it further.
Oh, and GTA IV is completely awesome.