IMO: Go Away Console Launches!

Platforms: All

It’s nearly seven in the evening, on the day the PlayStation 4 is launched in the UK. I’ve been sitting here for over twelve hours waiting for my console to arrive. It was ordered back in June, long since guaranteed for launch day. It was dispatched yesterday to the couriers. It has until nine to arrive otherwise there’s no chance; the drivers will head home with the console in the back of their van until next week. When I’m at work. Over the course of the day I have jumped up at every noise, walked outside the house and back-in on multiple occasions, broken my F5 key in the hope the tracking system will have moved on at all. I am a broken man, utterly bereft of any confidence it will arrive today. My day has been wasted and I have nothing to show for it. This is the epitome of a first world problem, but console launches are horrible things in this day and age.

I think back to 1992 and the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I saw the advert and somehow persuaded my Dad to take me down to the shops that day to buy it. Launch day. No midnight openings; no queuing. We rocked up (according to my memory) and we got the SNES complete with Super Mario World. I’d somehow wrangled it that my Dad would match me pound for pound, effectively halving the cost. I didn’t know about it so hadn’t prepared, but I promised to earn the cash and pay him back (which I did later that year). It mightn’t have happened quite like this, but my memory tells me it did. I definitely got it on launch day. We definitely didn't pre-order. We definitely did not have to queue and we most definitely did not have to get there at an ungodly hour.

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Bliss. Now such events are hellish. They are events, as big and brash as any sporting final, any album release or any Summer blockbuster opening. The business’ value is gigantic, ensuring such support is put behind anything and everything. The consumer population has grown exponentially with people like me being followed by younger people and in many cases passing on their love for gaming as well.

Today is an ever-increasing reality. We all get so excited by the things we love, and this is enhanced further by the chat, the trailers, the tweets and the everything. Chuck in everything internet and specifically arguments pertaining to which console is best then how can we not fail to get to today and find sprawling in its wake a mess of disappointment?

I’m currently reeling from a painful experience. It hasn’t always been like this, even in recent events. The Wii arrived at my door around nine in the morning on launch day. What a wonderful day that was! But some will have had that today with the PS4. There’ll have been someone who suffered like I do now, when the Wii was released. There is no solution, aside from hope that gaming loses its popularity and earning potential, but were that to happen it would destroy the industry and we’d all suffer. Pretty short-termist, that, don’t you think?

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It hasn’t been helped by external factors, all of which are things that just weren’t ever a factor twenty-odd years ago. Sony have kindly provided the site with a PS4 unit for review purposes throughout this generation. That arrived today. But it’s going to one of my colleagues. That’s sitting there but I can’t get using it as I have my own account, will create my own game saves and so on. Heck, my bundle that’s not yet here has actual games. So does the SOny unit, but they’re going to others again. On top of this, another colleague who cancelled their pre-order still got the thing. This morning. All of these things are thanks to the internet. Twenty-odd years ago I’d be none the wiser.

All this means I’m going to have to grin and bear it. The console might still arrive and even if it doesn’t, I’ll have one next week for sure. It’s a pretty silly thing to get het up by, but it’s hard not to. In the past that wasn’t the case, and yet disappointment wasn’t on the agenda. It’s strange the way the world works. This malaise is an analogue of the issue plaguing grown-up gamers everywhere - now they have the cash, they haven’t got the time to play all the games. Now we have the excitement and the expectation but we also have the dismal failure and frustration as a result. Damn you, gaming. You were our only hope and now you’ve become the Empire.

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P.S. It’s gone nine and I’m forty-five minutes into a conversation with my supplier about where my PS4 is. No-one knows. No-one can tell me anything. No-one can do anything about the day I’ve wasted, nor can they even estimate when I’ll get an email or call detailing what happens next. Such fun! Oh for 1992…

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