Thursday, November 1, 2007

Avid gamers, entrepreneurs line up for PlayStation 3

People camp out as they wait in line for a chance to buy Sony's new PlayStation 3 console yesterday at the Best Buy store in Mohegan Lake.

Avid gamers battled the masses and the laws of supply and demand last night for the privilege of spending hundreds of dollars for Sony's new PlayStation 3, which goes on sale today.

"This is out of control," Yonkers police Lt. Andrew Lane said late last night after managers of Circuit City at the Cross County Shopping Center called police twice to have several people removed from store property outside. Some would-be patrons tried to hide in a garage and stairwells at the shopping center, police said.

At the Best Buy in Yonkers, 27 people were camped out on lawn chairs under tents they bought at nearby sporting goods stores. They planned to wait until 7 a.m. today, when the store would hand out tickets to the first 27 people in line, who could then purchase one unit each when the store opened at 8 a.m.

First in line were three employees of Throgs Neck Games in the Bronx, who arrived about noon Tuesday. Store owner Israel Sanchez said he paid his workers "double what they would usually make" to wait in line, and he and his wife periodically stopped by to provide food, drinks and "moral support."

When it came time to buy the games, he planned to fork over the money for the units, which would cost $646 each with tax, he calculated.

Sanchez's strategy: "I'm probably going to hang on to them and wait for the rush to end," he said. "If you go on eBay now, you're going to get $1,400 or $1,500 for it. But if you wait until Christmastime, that's when you're going to get ridiculous prices, like $4,000 to $5,000."

He said he also planned to provide a commission to his sales manager, Clay Chapman, 21, of Throgs Neck.

"I didn't sleep in the cold for nothing," Chapman said. "And the rain - Oh, my God! ... people throwing eggs at us and stuff. It's been nasty. A lot of people are jealous."

Robert Vaughan, 20, of Yonkers also planned to sell his unit.

"I'm going to sell it to go on spring break," he said, adding that he hoped to go to Acapulco.

But his friend Eric Weiss, 20, also of Yonkers, a neuroscience major at Vassar College, home working for the semester, had every intention of using it himself.

"We decided we wanted to play PlayStation 3, and the only way to play it is to get it," said Vaughan, who was shielding himself from the rain under a (plastic) Twister mat until his friend bought a tent from Sports Authority.

He said he has an Xbox, but is ready to switch to PlayStation.

"I liked the Xbox for 'Halo.' I have a wall full of 'Halo' toys," he said. "But I'm ready to move on to 'Resistance: Fall of Man' and finding new games."

He said the PlayStation would also have clearer DVD viewing. "It's got Blue Ray DVD, and I like watching movies as clear as possible."

Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said the store in downtown White Plains only had six units even though the stores had advertised that they would have 10.

"Due to manufacturer allocations, the majority of retailers received limited quantities," Restivo said.

Store employees told the people waiting outside that the first six would receive coupons at 6:30 a.m. to purchase the units when the store opened at 7 a.m., and that the next four would get rain checks. In addition, the store informed the city's police department why the people were camped out in front of the store.

In Cortlandt, meanwhile, three dozen people camped outside two outlets for two nights for the rights to a limited number of PS3s.

What drove the 48-hour passion was a mix of pleasure and profit.

The Wal-Mart planned to open at 7 a.m. today to sell its first PlayStation 3 to the first person in line, 17-year-old Shaun Gallagher of Poughkeepsie, who had moneymaking in mind. He plans to sell his PS3 to the highest bidder on eBay. He figures he'll get up to $6,000.

In the other camp, where Best Buy planned to open at 8 a.m. today and sell its first PS3 to the first person in line, 17-year-old Joe Aviles of Ossining, it's all about the game.

"I'm going to play it," he said. "I can't wait."

In all, Best Buy expected to sell 26 of the prized PS3s to as many people in line today.

It was unclear how many PlayStations would be sold at Wal-Mart, where the line was locked at 10 people since yesterday.

The lines started Wednesday afternoon outside the two stores at the Cortlandt Town Center on Route 6.

The camps got a little competitive.

The people in line outside Wal-Mart walked across the parking lot at 4 a.m. yesterday and asked the folks in line outside Best Buy if they wanted to play football.

"Who wants to play football at 4 o'clock in the morning?" asked Jason Carrow, 28, of Putnam Valley. The Best Buy crowd was grouped in tents, watching DVD players that were rigged to car batteries. The Wal-Mart guys played football anyway.

Unlike other areas of the country, where fights broke out waiting for the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 last year, there was a clear code of courtesy in Cortlandt.

"We are civil enough to accept the fact that there are 26 of us here," said Jason Carrow, 28, of Putnam Valley. "We know who number one is and we know who number 26 is. If somebody has to go to the bathroom, how are you going to cut somebody in line?"

Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and The Visionaries Who Conquered The World of Video Games

Marijuana Hair Test

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why Battle of the Consoles was more than just business

Today is Boxing Day and you are spending the morning reading the paper instead of braving the crowds at an electronics superstore, so presumably a) you found everything you were hoping for under the tree, or b) your children did, or c) you found a way to opt out of this year's orgy of videogame consumerism. Congratulations to you.

Opting out of videogame consumerism is tough most years, but in 2006 it was nearly impossible. This was the year when the young Xbox 360 finally began showing up in stores in significant quantities, and it was the year when the PlayStation 3 and the Wii made their public debuts. Ever since the eruption of hype that was the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show in Los Angeles in May, the Battle of the Consoles was the videogame story of the year.

Here's the funny thing. a business story about a horserace for market share – in the entertainment section. Sorry about that. In fact, we spent nearly the entire year talking about whether the PS3 would win, or whether the Xbox 360 would win, or whether the Wii put Nintendo back in first place. Why?

"It's a high-interest category. It's like having a favourite flavour of soft drink," says Ron Bertram, Nintendo of Canada's vice-president and general manager. "Gamers invest lots of hours playing. They have strong opinions."

"I was a gamer long before I worked in the industry," says Matt Levitan, marketing and PR manager for PlayStation Canada. "First I was an Atari guy and then I was a (Sega) Genesis guy. That's what makes our industry so unique: people are passionate. It's easy to get carried away."

Yes, it is easy to get carried away. But you are not allowed to find that sort of talk interesting unless you hold stock in one of the console makers, and even if you do, you are still not allowed unless you know the material and marketing costs behind each machine.

Seriously, you are not allowed. Three large electronics companies have game machines for sale. Chances are very slim that any of them is headed for bankruptcy. So what if we forget about the market-share horserace for a while, and instead talk about what happened in gaming itself in 2006?

Well, many new games arrived in stores. A few were inspired. Several were good. Many of them were boring and stupid. Unforgivably many were sequels. That much has been standard every year for more than a decade.

So, okay, maybe games themselves are no place to go looking for trends. Maybe the horserace really was the story of the year. But why should you care about who wins the fight for market share?

"Market share is important," says Jason Anderson, head of marketing for Xbox Canada, "because that kind of critical mass affords us the ability to offer great exclusive games."

An exclusive game is one that is available for one machine but not for the others. Halo is an exclusive, and so are all the Mario titles, so is Gran Turismo.

A really great exclusive is called a "system seller," because its appeal is powerful enough to make gamers buy a $300-plus machine they would have otherwise ignored, just for the privilege of a 12-hour play experience.

So, to paraphrase Anderson, market share is important because if you have it, you can persuade a hot game developer to make titles exclusively for your system, which will give you a library that persuades more people to buy your system. It is a virtuous circle, at least as far as a console maker is concerned. It also makes the horserace more important than you might think.

This holiday season, each of the three console makers insisted it was above the horserace. Microsoft told us the Xbox 360, with its global install base of nearly 10 million machines, already had an unstoppable lead. Sony said the PlayStation 3, with its built-in high-definition Blu-ray movie player, would be the centre of digital entertainment in the networked home and far more than just a game player. Nintendo said it was bowing out of high-tech competition and would instead concentrate on selling the Wii to the majority of the population that currently believes videogames are for weenies.

Most of that was insincere. All three horses are galloping as fast as they can.

Nintendo's Bertram: "Our strategy is to compete in the existing gamer market. But also to expand that market."

Sony's Levitan: "First and foremost, the PS3 has to be a games player. You never want to alienate the gamer."

Microsoft's Anderson: "For the consumer who only buys one (console), our goal is to be that one."

Behind the counter at Game Shack in the Atrium on Bay, Luigi Vaccaro has the perspective of someone who has seen many races like this one, and is still interested. He currently owns an Xbox 360 and a Wii.

"I'm into shooters and I like to play online (on the 360)," he says. "The Wii is almost like virtual reality. In Rayman, you have to throw a cow by swinging the remote around above your head." He says he hasn't yet found a reason to buy a PS3. Still: "I have to try everything. I'm one of those spenders who can't stop.

"Back then, it was Nintendo versus Sega. Today it's the same. I'll just be happy if neither Nintendo nor Sony goes bankrupt."

The key thing here, and what makes the horserace important, is that each console maker has a point of view: a brand image that informs everything it does. The Xbox 360 is good at high-definition pictures and it does play DVDs, but its real selling point is online play. The PS3 is a beast of a computer and will probably boast the best visuals of this generation, along with the smartest virtual enemies. The Wii is a party machine that works best with eight friends and a keg.

The console that winds up leading the pack will make its parent company rich, certainly, but it will also have the power to shape gaming at large. A win for the 360 will mean a win for online play and trash-talking into a headset at opponents half a continent away.

A win for the Wii will mean smaller development budgets and fewer titles that appeal to the hardcore and more titles about swinging cows over your head.

A win for the PS3 will be a win for the status quo: gaming as a largely solitary activity that pits players against ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence.

The horserace mattered because everybody talked about it, sure. But it really mattered because all that chatter was really a conversation about the future of the medium. The creative (and maybe even artistic) choices game developers will make over the next five years hang on it. Maybe it's okay if you couldn't help picking a side.

Toronto Star

T-Shirt Verk�ufer, die �ber 30 Million Dollar ein Jahr bilden
Drinks For Marijuana Tests