For me, the week of the PS3 launch consisted mainly of preparation of the promotional vehicles - the PS3 / HDTV install in a VW Golf and a lighted cooler for serving concessions out of the trunk of a VW New Beetle. This kept me quite busy until literally right before time to head out to pick up JR Nip at a Wal-Mart with his new PS3.
We arrived at the Denham Springs, LA Wal-Mart at about 11:30. JR Nip had requested that we show off the system there first, so we rolled up to the front of the store near the PS3 line and opened the hatch and fired up the PS3. It was an instant hit with the people in line. This was the first chance that some of them had to actually play a game on the PS3, and they were all blown away. The install itself was pretty awesome, and we didn't have to say so ourselves. One person ran and got their truck and backed it up to where we were, so that people could sit on the tailgate to play the games, but that's when we remembered we had bought camping chairs specifically for this purpose, so we pulled those out. We didn't unveil the goodies in our support vehicle at this first stop, since they were all a half hour away from being free to go as they please. A few of the gamers were overly thankful for us being out there, thanking us several times. It's a nice feeling to be appreciated. That fueled us a bit in the cold, and soon, we were off to our next stop: a Best Buy (on Millerville Rd. in Baton Rouge, LA) that would not be opening and selling its PS3s until 8 AM. We had a cold, tired, hungry, captive audience that was focused on... what we had to show them. The PS3. We rode up to the entrance of the store, pulled the Golf onto the front area, pulled the New Beetle next to it and facing the front doors, then popped the hatch on the gaming system and invited the weary and excited gamers to try out the PS3. Shouts of "Awesome!", "This is Legit!" and "That's a HUGE Freakin' TV!" were not uncommon. We stayed at this location from 12:30 to about 3:00 in the morning.
When Psibabe stepped out of the support car, she felt like she was in a scene from Resident Evil; A crowd of sleep-deprived, cold, hungry gamers wrapped in covers and layers of clothing slowly pressed forward as a mass, peering over the car, anxiously waiting for the opening of the trunk.
"What you looking at?!", Psibabe quipped. Someone replied, "Wee whant to seee whass in the trunk." "What do you think is in the trunk?", Psibabe retorted. "A PS3?", came the hopeful reply. Psibabe said, pointing to the Golf parked next to her, "Nope. That's the other trunk. All I have is free food and drink." Their eyes lit up and one of them said, "For Real?" Psibabe then popped the trunk to reveal a tray of Quiznos sandwiches and BAWLS carbonated energy drinks as I was setting up and turning on the PS3. Minutes later, the sounds of explosions, racing engines, battling mechs and high-energy music was pouring out into the night as the campers played an assortment of launch titles including, Ridge Racer 7, Resistance: Fall of Man, Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire and Genji: Days of the Blade. I could see the Resident Evil zombie resemblance that Psibabe later mentioned, and thought the same thing as I saw the gaping open mouths and saw the screen reflected in the eyes of the crowd of sleep-deprived gamers as they huddled for warmth of a different type.
At this location, we met a tattoo artist named Torrey who was in line for his PS3 and had a friend in another location waiting in line for another system for him. He was picking up two of each of the new systems (including the Wii in the next couple of days), so that he would be able to play games on all of the systems and be non-biased. He said he hates to be caught in a situation where he hasn't played a game that someone asks him about. Now, there's a gamer for you. He also mentioned that he works with a guy that does vehicle installs similar to what we were doing. Perhaps we'll have a more professional install in our future? Only time will tell.
One thing I found very disturbing as I discussed the PS3 with the masses was that a frighteningly large number of them were there to buy systems to sell. They were waiting in line for days, out in the cold and braving the elements in hopes of ebaying a PS3 for several times what they paid for it. I understand that America is the land of the free and the home of Capitalism, but I found it hard to comprehend that many people camping out to resell a system. It gets worse. Not only were several of them out there to make a buck, but one person I spoke to told me he had forty people across the city in lines all over, buying systems for him to sell. Now, either he has something really nasty on all of them, or he's got to be paying them a chunk of change. Then, he'll still need to be able to sell these systems for enough to cover that cost and still make a profit. The kink in this plan would be that after launch, the supply is going to spike, since so many people are buying the systems simply to sell them. I suggested to him that he should consider setting them up in some location and making something akin to an "Internet cafe", but with PS3s instead of computers on the Internet. I told him that, with the high demand and low supply for PS3s, people would pay to play PS3s. Hopefully he'll look into that option, as Baton Rouge could use a more technological sort of night life option, I think.
Besides that, some of the people who were in line to buy a system and resell it were starting to change their minds after seeing the system in action and playing it themselves. I don't know how many minds we changed, but I guarantee that some people who had planned to sell the system are now planning on keeping it for themselves.