We’re Ready For Next-Gen
But Are We Ready To Buy?
by Nicholas Laborde
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
Every single day, we await some form of announcement that will disrupt the stagnation period that unfortunately falls at the end of every console generation.
With today’s Wii U news influx, I decided to reflect upon the start of the current generation, and the utter madness that surrounds any console launch.
I can tell you something from my heart: I’m ready for the technological and innovation leaps, but there is no way in hell that I’m anticipating the launch madness.
A long time ago in an industry far, far away…
As soon as the announcement spreads, pre-orders (a concept which wasn’t emphasized as heavily then as it is today) began to open, and I rushed out to secure my place in the future of gaming. Running to my local GameStop, I reserved my system and breathed a sigh of relief.
I was then confronted with a little tidbit of information: stores only received twenty systems in their initial shipments.
I was number twenty-one on the list.
“But it’s okay,” said the man behind the counter, “because if someone doesn’t pick their system up with 48 hours, we’ll give you a call!”
Of course, I would never receive a call announcing such luck. The system would release on November 22nd 2005, and as the world ogled over the next step in gaming, I sat back and waited very impatiently.
A horrible biking accident (see: I fell off) only two days later, on Thanksgiving of all days, would only further increase my lamenting; I was on crutches due to a sprained ankle, unable to do anything but play video games.
Video games, of course, that weren’t on Xbox 360.
As if the universe was wholly against me, there were massive shortages which would prevent any new systems from appearing on the market until right before Christmas. I received my console on December 18, 2005, and a sleepless night of Call of Duty 2 ensued.
On Friday, December 23rd, I would join the thousands of others who received the infamous Red Ring of Death. My resulting emotional state at that exact moment in time can only be accurately described as a catastrophe.
There I was, staring at one of the newest pieces of technology on the market, which had effectively been reduced to a doorstop (a $399USD doorstop, might I add). Christmas was right around the corner, so I couldn’t contact support until after New Year‘s.
“Hello, thank you for calling Xbox Support. My name is Tim, how may I help you?”
His name probably wasn’t Tim, and we both knew the subject of my call: the Red Ring of Death.
A long, drawn-out process of plugging and unplugging the console ensued, removing the hard drive and booting the system without it… things that I had already tried countless times before, which Tim’s crystal ball must have predicted would increase my odds of success since it was under his mandate.
“You are going to have to send in your console for repair.”
These fateful words would plague 360 owners for years, and signaled the beginning of a lengthy, unexciting process.
After receiving a shipping label and mailing my console on January 2nd, 2006, I waited. You would be given a website to “track the status of your order,” but it didn’t actually work. It would describe three steps: 1) console received, 2) console repaired, 3) console shipped.
In all of my experience, these options were never actually updated until the console was replaced and sent out the door, rendering the entire “courtesy” of tracking your order useless.
I eventually received a replacement on January 11th and once more began my foray into modern gaming.
The 360 would be largely tumultuous until around mid-2008, when a new system (the Elite) would largely eliminate the RRoD and its causes, Microsoft’s logical response to not wanting to spend another $1,000,000,000USD on repair programs.
If you lived through the tragedy that was the launch of the Xbox 360, you can feel my utter disdain at the possibility of reliving those days.
And don’t think it was just a screw up on Microsoft’s part that doomed the 360′s launch.
With the PlayStation 3 launching in America on November 11th, 2006 at the amazingly attractive price point of $599USD, approximately one real game (Resistance: Fall of Man), and a sub-par online service, owners weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms to the next generation of gaming.
Oh, and let’s not forget a shooting thrown into the scarcity equation.
The Wii had the most stable launch of all, with a solid lineup (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, among many others) only eight days after the PlayStation 3 hit shelves.
Along with these positives come a slew of negatives: shortages, faulty hardware, additional purchases (controllers, cables, etc), and an all around aura of madness.
I was the first person at my local GameStop to reserve the Wii U; I’m not taking any chances. I’m just praying that the Wii U’s launch isn’t as traumatic and early adopters punished with high initial costs and faulty quality.
To any other number twenty-ones, you have my heartfelt sympathies.
Are you embracing the next generation in all of its high-priced, low-content glamor upon launch?