Yesterday a.m., I took the plunge of waiting for a Wii. Ever since I played Wii Sports at my friend Michael Eisenstein’s place, I knew I’d have to go for it. I didn’t expect to still need to wait for hours so many months after it came out.
Most of this chronicle was written while I was sitting outside the Nintendo World Store, with some details added later. The Nintendo store gets new Wiis in daily, but the number is limited, generally 50 or less, and they recommend arriving two hours in advance.
Here’s the play by play, with a few photos at the end>
taxi drops me off at 48th and 5th. I walk along, waiting
for the line. And then I see a crowd of people, perhaps 15 of them, all clustered
and turning the corner into Rockefeller Plaza. This is the crowd? I look at
where they’re going – there’s a hundred people there already. And then I
realize it’s for the Today Show. A cop points me to a smaller line – a ragtag
bunch of 8 people, almost all male, ages 10 to 50-something, sitting on the 48th
St sidewalk. Two have chairs. I confirm with the #12 year old who’s here with
his brother a few years his senior that he’s the last on line. I unpack my
GoToMyPC folding chair out of its back I had slung over my back, and the kid’s
impressed. I even have a cup holder. It’s a souvenir from a Showstoppers event
several years back from my eMarketer days.
6:41: A woman stands on line behind me, in her late 30s or so. She’s in from Long
Island, buying it for her son’s 7th birthday. “You did good,” I told
her. She hopes so. We all hope so. She has more information than me – she says,
and the 40-ish Japanese man who gets in line behind her confirms – that the
first 20 are basically guaranteed a Wii. I tell her it makes more sense for her
to be here for her 7 year old, rather than me getting it for myself. She tells
me she’ll be playing it more than her son; she can’t wait to get Mario Party 8.
Me, I’m thinking Paper Mario, but what do I know? She tells the Japanese guy,
who has tried to get a Wii three times already and now wants to do it right,
that with the gas, parking, and everything else, she could have gotten a Wii on
eBay. She won’t get one on eBay out of principal. What principal is that? Not
sure. When I tried a few days ago, they were going for around $350-$370 plus
shipping for the basic set, over $100 above the list price. Gamestop.com had
packages with the Wii plus two extra games beyond the sports disc that comes
with it, but the games were pre-selected and none of the packages had two games
I wanted; that went for around $450. Walmart.com had packages of the Wii with
four games of your choice from a sizable selection for around $550, but I wasn’t
up for getting a whole library so quickly.
woman doesn’t know the difference between Paper Mario and Mario Party. Damn.
the corner tones chime for the start of The Today Show. We love you Katie!
online. Connections are available for $2.95 for two hours. They get you any way
they can here – though it’s better than airport pricing, so I’ll take it.
moved my butt. Caught up on the morning newsletters. Talking to Zac Pullen from
New Zealand on Google Talk. Time to eat my sandwich – white bread with honey
spread. I also have some 100-calorie snack packs, and a bottle of water.
mounted policeman just yelled at someone – I think a parked car. I could do
without the horse smell.
educate the woman behind me and a middle aged man who’s 12 about what you
really want to get, based on my research so far: a second controller with an
extra nunchuck as they’re sold separately, and a charger for two holsters
rather than just using Double-A batteries that come with the controllers (as I
suspected, the controller charger is manufactured by another company and not
sold at the Nintendo store). The middle aged man actually took notes.
woman behind me is yelling at girl scouts to back off from the Nintendo World
store, pointing to the line. She strikes me as a very sweet woman and a loving
mom, but I could also see her ripping into those little green-vested
pony-tailed girls like a lion on a zebra in one of those National Geographic Channel
laptop battery dies. I take out a book (The Social Life of Information), but I’m
too distracted to read. I have some Cheez-Its.
security guard mans the main entrance of the Nintendo store. A woman walks by
and approaches him, then approaches someone online. I said to the mother behind
me, “I bet he gets a lot of bribes offered to him.” The mother said, “If that
woman bribed him, everyone on this line would rip her and the guard to shreds.”
Ahh, capitalism brings out the best in all of us.
flat-screen TVs in the store window start playing Wii commercials. They’re
brilliant, not requiring any sound – just people hamming it up having a great
time playing the Wii. How can Wii players ever want to rip anyone to shreds?
Ahh, right, the happiness doesn’t sink in until you get one.
Nintendo employee asks the woman behind me when she got there as he does his
research so he knows what to tell others who call. I called the store twice and
got two different answers, so I’m not sure if this is a new idea for them.
anticipation hits. No one knew how it would work – would there be tickets? How
do you keep your place in line? How would you get anything else you wanted
store opens, right on the dot. I follow the eight people ahead of me right to
the cashier, as the line behind me loops around the store. Several dozen Wiis
are behind the counter, with controllers and a couple accessories close by.
Games are in drawers behind the counter. It takes all of about two minutes for
each transaction to happen, and three registers are open. Up to around 50
people were probably able to walk out with a Wii today. I got the Wii, a spare
controller and nunchuck, and Paper Mario, one of the latest Super Mario Bros
I left the
store and hailed a cab to head home. Between the Wii, the chair, and my laptop,
it was too heavy a load to bring to work. As a bonus, it was easier getting
work done afterwards with the Wii out of my sight.
When I left
my apartment for the second time that day – albeit earlier than I sometimes
leave for the first time during the week – I was absolutely giddy, and I hadn’t
even taken the Wii out of the box yet. Finally, I was able to appreciate why
people would take part in the madness of waiting for hours and planning for
weeks just to own a game console. I wasn’t in the market for a game console; I
wouldn’t have bought another. I was only in the market for a Wii.
months after I first played one and resolved that I should get it, I bought my
first game console in nearly 20 years, since I bought the Nintendo
Entertainment System. I still have that NES working in my apartment; Cara and I
unwind with Dr. Mario any chance we get. I’m not putting that away though. The
NES will go in the bedroom where it will get even more use, and the Wii will go
in the living room where there’s more space to play.
We’ll see if the fun lasts for the next two decades.