On Friday at 12:01 AM, I became a PlayStation 4 owner. I was first in line at the Carson Valley Best Buy to get one. No, I didn’t camp out for a week or anything. In fact, it was mostly accidental.

First, let me say, I am not a hardcore console player, nor am I a zealot toward any console camp. I like console gaming, but my ownership has been erratic. He’s a list of consoles I have owned, in order:

  • ColecoVision
  • NES
  • Super NES
  • PlayStation 2
  • Wii (launch day)
  • Xbox 360 (Falcon)
  • Xbox 360 S
  • Wii Family Edition
  • PlayStation 4

Yes, both my original 360 and Wii units died. The 360 after about 3 years, the Wii after nearly 6 years. Both failure modes were similar: they would occasionally work, but most of the time would freeze during startup. In both cases, I bought a replacement unit, and sold the old unit for parts on eBay. Both sales got decent money (not enough to pay for the replacement of course, but more than I would have expected for mostly broken systems).

The only time I ever camped out for a consumer device was for the Wii launch in November 2006. Best Buy was opening at 8 AM, and I stopped by at about 8 PM to check out the line and talk to people. I did want the Wii, but didn’t plan on camping for it. There were already about 50 people in line, but rumor was they had about 150 units available. So what the hell, I went home, grabbed a folding quad chair and some warm clothing, invited some friends, and went back to the line.

It was actually pretty fun. Lots of social people in line, people would occasionally get pizza delivered, lots of GameBoy action, etc. After midnight, a few people who managed to get the few sold at Wal-Marts came by and flaunted their new purchases. When 8 AM came around, it turns out they had over 150 units available, and there were only about 120 people in line, so technically camping wasn’t even needed. But like I said, it was a fun experience. (If I would have known there would be shortages for the next year or so, I would have bought 10.)

Fast forward to Thursday night. I was vaguely interested in getting a PS4 (my personal guess is the PS4 is going to “win” this generation, but I’ve been wrong about such things before; picking HD-DVD over Blu-Ray, for example), and was driving by the Reno Best Buy at 7 PM, when I saw about 30 people in line for the midnight launch. They had no idea how many units were going to be available, so I didn’t think it was worth it to get in line. But I decided to drive out to the Carson Valley Best Buy to see if there was a line there (my Ford C-MAX is still new enough that it doesn’t take much persuasion to get me to drive 45 minutes).

When I got there at about 8 PM, there was a roped-off area for non-preorders, but nobody in line. The fact that the area existed probably meant there was at least one console available, so hey, I got in line. Two minutes later a woman got in line behind me, who was buying it for her husband who was out of town. Then, for the next hour, nothing. At about 9 PM, a few more people trickled in. More after 10 PM. At 11 PM, there were about 20 people in line, when they let us in to begin taking our money and trying to sucker us into buying bundled accessories and services. My favorite was, “The PS4 includes an HDMI cable, but it’s just a cheap, basic one. You want this $50 cable, which supports 3D and 4K!” (The PS4 supports neither 3D nor 4K, and HDMI cables are essentially all the same.)

At 12:01 AM, they passed out the purchases. I bought the PS4, Need for Speed: Rivals, and Knack.

Coming up next, a review of the PS4…

Wow, a consumer video device which comes with an HDMI cable. What next, a printer which comes with a USB cable?