At 8 a.m., these four hearty souls waited with me in the near-freezing weather for the Wii preorders to open up at the EBGames on Route 198 in Laurel, MD. University of Maryland students Adam McClure (second from left) and Tristan Edmondston (far left) had been driving by the store to check for potential lines since midnight, finally parking to stake out the location at 5 a.m. Their main motivation for coming out: There was nothing better to do. "It's more of an adventure than anything," McClure said.
At 9 a.m., EB clerk Fernando came to open the store doors and get ready for the day. He said that the pre-orders for the PS3 and Wii went much more smoothly than those for the Xbox 360 thanks to coordinated announcements and procedures from the corporate HQ.
Minutes before opening the doors to customers, Fernando hands out lists of pre-orderable Wii games -- available at or just after launch -- along with a glossy flier for the Wii.
The twenty or so people in line right before opening carefully consider what games they want to reserve. Fernando said he hoped to accommodate pre-orders for everyone who showed up early. The turnout just barely beat the 16 or so people that lined up at this location to reserve a PS3, 11 of which actually got to reserve a system.
Part of the line outside the Gamestop on Route 1 at 10:20 a.m., after eight or so people had already gone through the store two at a time. Soon after this picture was taken, the manager cut the line off after the 19th pre-order, sending one late-waiting family off to look for a system elsewhere.
A helpful sign in the Route 1 Gamestop notes what games are available for pre-order. The store offered to call customers who pre-ordered a game with early news of the system reservations -- or they could have just read about it on Joystiq yesterday.
A surprisingly deserted EBGames at 10:45 a.m. today. Store manager Jennifer said that there were "several" people lined up for Wii pre-orders when she opened, but she still had some to give away, even 45 minutes after opening. Perhaps equally surprising, Jennifer said her launch allotment for the Wii was actually smaller than that for the PS3, but she expected product flow after launch to be much greater for the Wii.
- The overlap between Wii and PS3 pre-orders was not that great -- only four people came out for both line-ups at the Route 198 location.
- Unsurprisingly, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was the most popular game among pre-orderers. Red Steel and Call of Duty 3 also attracted some attention.
- Rumors of $59.99 first-party games were much-discussed in the crowd, but all the launch titles were available for pre-order at $49.99 or less.
- EBGames was also offering pre-orders on accessories, including a 512MB Sandisk SD card for $39.99.
- Funniest exchange -- Person 1: [referring to the pull-down cage protecting the store while it's closed] Do they really need these metal grates? Person 2: Have you been to Laurel before?