|Video game fans camp outside Wal-Mart for first crack at Sony’s PlayStation 3|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Nov. 16, 2006 - Every year there's at least one got-to-have new gadget, toy or game for which diehard fans are willing to pay a small fortune.
This holiday season it's the Sony PlayStation 3 game system, which has thousands willing to wait in long lines for hours, even days to purchase. The game system offers two versions which will be available in 12 different store chains across the country beginning at 12:01 tonight for $499-$599.
Demand for the PS3 has even spurred bidding wars on such auction sites as eBay, where bids had reached upwards of $3,500, plus shipping costs up to $50, before lunch today.
A dozen people — mostly young male residents from Hopkins County, but at least one woman from Mount Vernon — camped out with sleeping bags and chairs outside the local Wal-Mart Wednesday night to purchase the PS3.
Lisa Davis, the first in line, said she had been at the store since at least 8 p.m. Wednesday, and intended to stay until the store was allowed to officially sell the PS3 at midnight tonight to buy one for her sons. Because she lives in Mount Vernon, she knew she would either have to get in line at the Mount Pleasant or Sulphur Springs store. When she checked the Mount Pleasant store at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were already about half a dozen people in line and none in Sulphur Springs, making her decision easy.
The next group didn't arrive to take their place in line until around 10 p.m. with several others drifting in thereafter.
One person said he just waited until he got to Wal-Mart to buy his "camping" gear to avoid the hassle of carrying items to the store.
Some reported they planned to buy the game system for their children or family members, others for personal use. One said he planned to post his system at an online auction site and sell it to the highest bidder — if he can resist the temptation of testing it out for himself.
Customer service personnel at Wal-Mart said that the store had originally been slated to receive 10 of the 400,000 game systems distributed by Sony Computer Entertainment America for a simultaneous launch at midnight tonight, but the store only received four. Before asking the "campers" to move outside, store officials took down the name of each person in the order in which they were lined up for "rain checks."
That means that if the campers remain diligent, at least two of the 12 will likely leave without anything to show for their efforts, as the store can only promise PS3s to 10 people, including the four who will go home with one tonight.
Of course, some could decide that the weather is just too cool and windy, despite warm cocoa delivered periodically throughout the day by store employees, and go home.
Store employees said they not have any control over the number of the game systems they receive. They are hoping, but can't promise, to have more of the pricey gadgets in by Christmas. It will all depend on what Sony makes available to stores.
The PlayStation 3 20GB HDD includes a cell broadband engine advance microprocessor, Blu-ray Disc drive, four USB ports, High Definition multimedia Interface, SIXAXIS wireless controller and pre-installed removable 20GB hard disc drive.
The 60GB HDD model includes all of the features offered in the 20GB HDD model, plus a CompactFlash SD Memory Card and Memory Slick Duo card slots, wireless network connectivity and pre-installed removable 60GB hard disk drive, according to Sony's web site.
The Sulphur Springs campers who indicated their preference noted the Blu-ray disc drive and high definition interface as the driving factor behind their quest for the 20 GB HDD model. They also noted the need for the compatibility with other older game system models and the improved quality of games as driving factors behind the PS3 craze.