Eager players empty shelves of Xbox 360s - East Valley Tribune: News

Eager players empty shelves of Xbox 360s

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Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 5:09 am | Updated: 9:34 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Will Corvin spent a sleepless Monday night sucking down caffeinated energy drinks while sitting in a folding chair in front of the glass doors of his employer, Best Buy.

Happy and a tad strung out early Tuesday, he figured there are a lot more days ahead without much shut-eye. His new Xbox 360 will see to that.

"You can play with buddies, people all over the country," said the 21-year-old also known as Corv1no when he plays Xbox Live. "You can even play with people in Australia."

Welcome to Xbox frenzy, where even the employees have to line up at ungodly hours to get in on what has become the high-tech version of Tickle Me Elmo, Furby and the Cabbage Patch Kids. Only this hot gift goes for $400 retail and that doesn’t even include the games.

Corvin, of Scottsdale, plays video games nightly from the time he leaves work at 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. He was third in line Tuesday for Microsoft Corp.’s precious new console, a nirvana for gamers that features high-definition graphics and the ability to view photos and watch DVDs.

An employee at Best Buy’s store in the Scottsdale Pavilions shopping center, Corvin and a handful of fellow workers lined up at 7:30 p.m. Monday and waited for the doors to open nearly 14 hours later. Fueled by free coffee and cocoa from a nearby Denny’s, they lis- tened to music, did homework, fiddled with laptops and played with a dog named Bear.

"It’s going to be the big Christmas thing," said John Ausdemore, in line two spots back from Corvin. "You’re not going to be able to get it."

A spokesperson for Microsoft said Tuesday that it appears the new game consoles are sold out at stores across the country. Microsoft officials say they will be reassessing supplies and will make an announcement after Thanksgiving regarding when more Xbox 360s will be available.

Best Buy manager Xan LaPointe said the frenzy was the biggest she’s seen in her 15-year retail career. She didn’t know if the store will get additional boxes but there are rumors more may not be available until after Christmas.

"We all kind of feel like we’ll see another shipment but we have no word as to when or what the timing of those look like," she said.

Best Buy had 50 consoles on hand at the game’s launch Tuesday. They were snapped up in minutes once the store opened at 9 a.m. Most buyers spent between $500 and $800, depending on accessories and number of games purchased.

Overnight, a long line developed that snaked down the sidewalk to nearby stores. At 7 a.m. the first 50 in line received tickets to make their purchase. Those who didn’t spend the night or had number 51 or higher were left shaking their heads and looking for people such as Jeff Salter.

"I’m going to throw it up on eBay," he said. "I didn’t sleep 12 hours for nothing."

He planned to sell his Xbox and split the profits with a friend. He said he will buy one of the consoles for himself once the hype dies down.

Xbox 360 sellers were asking as much as $3,500 on eBay Tuesday. One seller wrote "Waited in line for 10hrs. Tested! Sold out in Stores!"

Microsoft expects to sell 3 million Xboxes within three months. Some of those in line accused the company of deliberately controlling distribution but Microsoft has said it is producing the games as fast as it can. A plan to sell the product worldwide within a few weeks could mean fewer in North America but retailers said they expected weekly shipments through the holidays.

Ausdemore ordered one of the consoles from a gaming store but was told he wouldn’t get it until after Christmas. He went to a nearby Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. Tuesday only to find the store’s 40 boxes were all gone after going on sale at midnight. He then got in line at Best Buy.

"Nobody knows what’s going on," he said. "If you want one before Christmas, this is what you have to do."

Those in line were mostly college students. "I knew you’d be here. You guys are geeks," said a man who pulled up in pickup truck.

"Thank you," responded 19-year-old Jared Brown.

Tricia Keyes grabbed up her dog, Bear, and spent the night on the concrete so she could buy her boyfriend a console for Christmas. "I don’t play video games," she said. "That’s love. Let it be known — that’s love."

Arizona State University law student Vincent Mazzotta said his Xbox will be purchased from proceeds he earned when he invested in 100 shares of Microsoft stock two months ago. The share price increased $3.50, he said.

"$3.50 a share times $100 pays for a Xbox," Mazzotta said.

The demand has led to lines even at stores not regularly frequented by technology buffs, including Target, Costco and Sam’s Club.

Microsoft said the new consoles will eventually tie in elements of the company’s new online initiative, called Windows Live, company chairman Bill Gates has said.

‘‘In the living room itself, Xbox 360 is our centerpiece and a product that redefines what goes on there,’’ Gates said.

Gates said Monday that he expects Xbox Live, Microsoft’s service that allows gamers worldwide to play one another, to eventually work with a Microsoft instant messenger that is scheduled to become part of Windows Live.

Windows Live is Microsoft’s newly launched effort to better compete with free, advertising-financed Web services such as e-mail and search technology from competitors led by Google and Yahoo!

Big competition is on the horizon for Microsoft. Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 is expected out next year.

"I’ll be back for PlayStation 3," Brown said, after spending $784 for his Xbox and accessories.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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