System Launch

As the highly anticipated launch days of the PS3 and Wii draw nearer, the gaming community is reaching fever pitch. Internet buzz is overwhelming, as anyone with gaming RSS feeds can attest to. Personally, I’m getting exhausted trying to keep up with reading all the incoming news.

This all makes me wonder. What, honestly, is so great about new system launches? Why is it that everyone goes absolutely apeshit over events such as these?

Launch Day

So, on launch day of any new console, there is a mass exodus from cozy homes across the nation. The rate of attendance to schools and places of business sees a sharp decline, and later, electricity usage spikes in unusual fashion. These are the days, usually in the cold months of late autumn, when adoring fans of electronic entertainment descend upon retail establishments in an inundation of nerd-speak, historical discussions, storytelling, and general fanboyism. Do I mock this custom? Yes. Am I guilty of participation? No comment…

The problem with this design is that it is a horribly uncomfortable experience until the hardware is actually secured and whisked away from the madness. The mob of consumers stand, sit, or lay out in the cold, invariably for many hours, and often overnight. Here in New York, the usual equips consist of multiple sweatshirts and pants, gloves, hats, facemasks, blankets, sleeping bags, fold-out chairs, and of course, tents. This is not even taking into account the basic needs of nourishment and electronic stimulation, often in the form of junk food – the kind that makes one nauseous after heavy consumption – and one or more hand-held game systems. Fingers and toes go numb first, with the rest of the body following in a centripetal fashion, until ice feels strangely warm.

Doors open, chaos ensues, and everyone is happy. Or crying…or in the hospital…

Spoils of War

So what is the reward for this trial of stiff joints, streaming (and steaming) tears and frozen boogers? A shiny new console! With…a game…maybe. “What do you mean, Eddie? Launch games are awesome!”

Yes, you refer to the multitude of awesome new games available on launch day. I don’t think so. History (and GameRankings) shows us that launch titles have an average critical rating hovering somewhere right around 7.5 out of 10. This, if you haven’t noticed from today’s review trends, is a score more realistically approximating a 50% on a 100 point scale. (I will discuss this topic at a later date, rest assured)

Average Launch Title Ratings
Generally, there are one or two good games at launch, and as such, not much of a selection for everyone’s varying tastes. Gamers are almost compelled to get that “good game” at launch, even if it’s something they might not be particularly interested in down the road, when there are more alternatives available. Also, people are often more willing to settle for substandard games, just to have SOMETHING to play. Then there’s the subsequent drought of quality titles, which is just plain disheartening. It’s really not until later on in the life-cycle of a console that the really good pieces of software show up, and the first few months after launch are the loneliest.

The Future

So, I return to my original query… What, honestly, is so great about new system launches?

I contend that the excitement is the result of expectation. There is a promise of the future – of what is to come. We are excited for the implications of a new product, and a new platform. Thoughts of new opportunities and experiences float through our minds as we brave the bitter winds and dark nights on a quest to procure our prize. So even if your glistening bounty breaks in the first week (which it very well may), or if you find yourself lost in a void where no new games dare tread, think of the future, and all the theoretical fun you will one day enjoy.


P.S. That having been said, I will be waiting for a PS3 this Thursday, until the midnight release. I am not fortunate enough to receive those types of things from manufacturers.

I will be sure to give a full report of the experience, though.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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