PALMDALE, Calif.--It's 4:20 on Monday afternoon and deep inside the hangar where Microsoft is holding its Xbox 360 launch event, the hard-core gamers are separating themselves from everyone else.
At 9 p.m., the many people on hand who have purchased one of the next-generation consoles will finally get their machines. Or at least, the people at the front of the line that began forming at 1 p.m. will.
Indeed, the line began when Norm Edwards, a 33-year-old game writer from Brentwood, Calif., sat down on one of the hundreds upon hundreds of beanbags here. And quickly, others begin to fill in behind him. Now, a little more than three hours later, about 60 others, each with their own beanbags, have joined Edwards in what looks to be one of the most comfortable lines for a product release of all time.
In any case, in front of the 24 cash registers where gamers will be able to buy their Xboxes later Monday, a long line of shopping carts filled with games beckons. Each basket is filled with at least 100 copies of games like "Madden '06," "Amped 3," "NBA 2K6," "Gun" and others, most of which are selling for $59.99.
But some games seem to be selling better than others. According to Art Plummer, a supervisor for Best Buy--Microsoft's retail partner at the Zero Hour event--games like "King Kong," "Perfect Dark Zero" and "Project Gotham Racing 3" were selling like hotcakes.
"We're almost out of 'King Kong," Plummer said around mid-afternoon Monday.
While gamers were waiting until evening to pick up their console purchases, they could easily hand over their credit cards for any one of the games or Xbox accessories like a wireless controller, a 12-month subscription to Xbox Live or a rechargeable battery.
Thus, while Microsoft has got a captive audience until they actually turn over the consoles, there is no shortage of gamers walking around the hangar, bags of games and accessories in hand.
And if the growing line for consoles is any indication, the last in line to get their consoles may have to wait until close to 1 a.m. to get their paws on them.