On Nov. 17, Sony released the Playstation 3 in the United States. The successor to Sony’s wildly successful and creatively named Playstation 2, the PS3 boasts radically improved graphics, thanks to its terrifyingly powerful and ominously named Cell processor. It also houses a high-definition Blu-Ray disc player and a host of other features that one typically finds on top-of-the-line computers.
Sound good? Too bad, because you will never find one. Retailing for $600, the PS3 was also produced in woefully limited quantities, creating raging nerd-demand that resulted in long lines, disappointed customers and in a few cases, some of the most insane news of the Thanksgiving weekend.
“We had 16 pre-orders (for the Playstation 3),” says Fort Collins Fashion Mall Gamestop employee Kristin Connell. “Somehow it got out that we were doing pre-orders, and the next morning we had a line out the door.”
Miniature tent cities sprung up in front of electronics stores throughout Fort Collins and the rest of the United States, with anxious consumers camping out for nearly a week overnight in order to procure one of the monolithic game systems. Interestingly, most of those willing to endure such hardship weren’t even interested in keeping the console, instead opting to sell their system on eBay for potentially massive profit.
“A guy I know ended up getting $1,300 for his PS3 on eBay,” said Gamestop employee Stan Nichols. Despite the initially absurd resale prices found on eBay during the first few days following the console’s launch, auction prices online are now significantly closer to the actual retail price tag of the console.
Unfortunately, of course, the profiteering and desperation eventually led to tragedy. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a 19-year-old actually ran head-first into a pole as part of a mad dash to be one of 10 customers to receive a PS3, sending him to the hospital. In this case the casualty occurred outside of a Wal-Mart in West Bend, Wis., but even more depressing news was brewing elsewhere.
According to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 21-year-old Michael Penkala spent 36 hours waiting outside of a Wal-Mart in Putnam, Conn., before being beaten by robbers and shot at point-blank range with a sawed-off shotgun. Despite this setback, he still managed to have three friends of his procure PS3s from the store to later sell on eBay and said afterwards, “I wasn’t thinking about my wound, I was all about those Playstations.” All this despite not having health insurance or a job.
The theatre of the absurd pales in comparison. Is Sony to blame for all this? Probably not, but one can hope that someone learns something from all this. Otherwise – holy crap.
Staff writer Jason Moses can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.