There's one more thing about WoW Insider fans -- they know how to put back some dollar beers. God bless 'em.
You can't see it, but that guy has a blue bag, and in that bag is Wrath of the Lich King. So yes, it's a bag of Wrath.
A group of WI fans, pretty much the best fans on the Internet.
If these were real, there probably would have been a riot.
You can always spot them in a crowd, right?
About an hour before launch.
The line snaked around the story at the Gamestop near Clark and Diversey.
Wrath fans had our own VIP section at Duffy's in Chicago.
People were finishing off their preorders before launch -- check the Wrath strat guides in the background.
We asked this car's owner (who reads WI) what BRK meant, and he thought it was some airport thing. But c'mon, we all really know what BRK means, right?
The first Collector's Edition sold in Chicago.
The Chicago Gamestop was full an hour before launch.
The meetup was full of people talking WoW and what they were going to do first in Wrath.
In this fan-taken picture, Mike Schramm is hard at work blogging with his iPhone on launch night.
Wrath is here!
Fans chow down and drink up at Duffy's in Chicago.
The humble WI get together at Duffy's on Diversey in Chicago.
Chicago WI fans pick up their copies of Wrath at Gamestop near Clark and Diversey.
This is how the scene on Powell Street looked at about 5 p.m. PST, before the various Lunar Festival booths had been set up.
These folks had it all planned out: a table, chairs, board games - the works. They were obviously professional queue survivalists.
We asked this young lady if the ice throne was cold to sit on. Her answer: "Yes."
The event was co-hosted by talent from Bay Area radio station Live 105. Here we see Madden (like the football fellow) laying down the ground rules for the evening.
And what's a Blizzard event without snow cones? Blue ones, at that. (They tasted like bubblegum.)
The calm before the - dare we say it? - Blizzard to come.
If the hundreds of people in line, folks in costumes, and abundance of Blizzard shirts didn't let you know you were in the right place, this banner did.
And the winner for Most Intimidating Dance Move of the evening ... this guy.
This may look like an ice sculpture ... and it is. But it's also a chilling "fountain" for the Rockstar drinks that showed up later. They were poured in the top and came out the bottom. Snazzy!
Absolutely no pressure on the face painter in this shot. Nope, none whatsoever.
That's a potion, right? Haven't seen that one before ...
We actually heard the elf in this shot hoping under her breath that her ears didn't come off while dancing - on several occasions.
Some people looked ... less menacing posing in the standee than others. So fierce!
Everyone: Meet Hello Kitty face paint guy. No, we don't know what compelled him to make this decision, but we supported him in it nonetheless.
Dour elf can haz a book.
There were several rounds of "dance lessons" before the actual dancing competition. This one was "how to dance like Napoleon Dynamite." Seriously.
Those who wanted their faces painted could leave the line and a GameStop employee would hold their place. Nice!
The line, it grows. Yet it never got even the slightest bit out of hand.
Wait a second ... we swear we've seen these same two guys hanging out at every GameStop, well, ever.
These Lunar Festival banners were everywhere, just in case you weren't sure it was the right place. Contrary to event teasers, though, Powell Street was not closed to traffic.
This festival booth was interesting. They actually created animated flip books from video of ... whatever you wanted to act out.
Here's how it works: You wait in a line to pay for the game, but you don't get the game. You then wait in another line to actually get the game several hours later. Or, you walk a block to 7-11 and pick it up the day before.
The very first person to purchase the game gloats as those behind him yell, "Hey, buddy, move it!"
The first wave of folks to get their copies of Wrath attempt to pay using a novel form of currency: snow cones.
At its height, we pegged the line at San Francisco's Powell Street GameStop at around ... well, lots.
Ah, yes ... the cardboard photo-op cutout. What would a Lunar Festival be without one of these?
"So ... cold ... take the picture!"
What's five hours gluing shiny stuff to your T-Shirts when you're going to be standing in line for at least that long?
We have to hand it to the face paint artists at the "Lunar Festival" - they produced some really lovely work.
The line leading to the Powell Street GameStop as it appeared early in the evening. Some fans told us they'd been queued up since 8 a.m.
This well-armed fan would later compete in the dance-off, sans swords.
The name of this unusual card game: "Can We Please Move The Line Along?"
We saw plenty of card and board games being played by those in line, but these fellows brought along PSPs.
The Azeroth Auction House, a.k.a. a box where you insert a form and hopefully win some WoW-branded schwag.
Entrants into the dance competition perform some warm-up stretches.
"If there's any cutting in this line, I'll be the one doing it."
The guy on the far right has a Braxxis Staff of Slumber. The lady in the middle has her hands on a Staff of Immaculate Recovery. The guy on the left likes party hats.
These people had been camping out Fry's since 6am the day before.
I think the sign says it all.
He was loading the game as he waited in line.
Pavilions have been set up in the parking lot, but no crowds are allowed inside yet.
Are there any copies of Wrath hiding in there? I don't see any...
Nope. No Wrath boxes. There is, however, a snow cone machine. We'll take this as second best.
At 7PM, the line for Wrath stretches well around the building.
Now this is a line.
I'm starting to be pretty glad I ordered my copy of Wrath off Amazon and don't have to wait in this monstrosity...
The line goes on...
The GameStop at which the midnight launch is taking place is locked up tight. This is probably for the best, since there are more people in line outside than would actually fit in the store.
GameStop and the amazing technicolor World of Warcraft.
This setup is sort of a mini-BlizzCon with face painting, food, and photo ops.
I know Mom always told me not to take candy from strangers, but Blizzard employees aren't strangers, are they?
Candy and now Red Bull? I may never leave!
So far the crowds are peaceful. But what if I went in and yelled "For the Horde" ?
Snow cones! Yum!
Uh oh. Violence has broken out in the GameStop parking lot.
Local ice cream shop gets in on the Wrath-mania that's sweeping the rest of the shopping center.
Blizzard is on hand to give out posters and sign autographs. (They were also autographing game boxes after midnight for those wanting to wait.)
Let me take a moment here to explain the line. The portion of the line to the left-hand side of this shot (which has been steadily growing all evening) is for people to enter GameStop and give them money in exchange for a receipt saying they owned Wrath. People were allowed to do this after 8PM this evening. (Even if you paid in full prior to 8PM, you had to wait in line.) The line to the right-hand side of this image is the line to actually pick up your copy of the game, if you'd waited in the other line to get a receipt. With two registers open and reported credit card problems, the initial line was moving sluggishly.
Do you see anyone moving in this after-midnight shot? No? Me neither. If the "give GameStop money" line continued to move at the same pace it was moving when I left, I'd expect these people to be home with Wrath by three in the morning. Here's to hoping things sped up.
Security is on hand to prevent GameStop from turning into Alterac Valley.
Pictures from the Edinburgh Gamestation midnight launch.
Queueing inside the Edinburgh shop. When we arrived after 11pm the shop was already full to capacity with plenty of WoW fans ready to get their hands on the goodies!
The beleaguered store manager took time out from shepherding queueing WoW players to pose with his array of icy goodies. Plenty of WoW peripherals - cards, game guides, figurines - seemed to fly across the tills tonight!
More customers inside the Edinburgh Gamestation. Plenty of people braved the Scottish chill to get their hands on WotLK at the earliest possible time.
Gamestation held a last-minute costume competition and this enterprising staff member was dressed as a Draenei Priest. Most customers didn't have time to throw together any impressive costumes, though. Other events on hand included a dice-rolling competition and the favourite British pastime of queueing.
Gamestation photographers were capturing the event, one of the busiest midnight openings we've seen.
Leaving the store at 00:40, the queue still stretched down Princes St - but staff said they wouldn't leave until everyone got their copy of WotLK. Champion!
The doors are sealed for now ...
Almost famous: http://twitter.com/NYCWotLK/
No wait -- they so are!
And have unwittingly left their gear unattended ...
A new race? Yep, Swag Elves!
Inside: Geoff Keighley prepares his lines ...
And Frank Pearce gets powdered up.
Aaand ... they're live.
Hmmm ... a suspicious looking block of "ice."
Ladies and gentleman: Michael Morhaime!
Here's that "ice" again ...
When you're president of Blizzard, elves deliver you swords -- all the time!
Pete, meet Michael.
Ah-ha! This is what that "ice" is for.
... And out comes the first copy of Wrath! (It's free too!)
Nice work, Pete. You deserve it! (See what waiting in line for 24 hours will get you, folks?)
And how about one with the Best Buy dude? ... Um, okay!
It's good to be Pete right now ...
Uh-huh, it's still good to be Pete ...
Alas, all good things must come to an end. And with that, Pete's cut free and tossed back outside into the cold *gulp* "real" world. Enjoy!
Hey all -- Krystalle Voecks here, reporting in from lovely and warm Saint Petersburg, FL. While I had not pre-ordered wrath from a local store (opting instead for a CE to be shipped to my house) I figured I'd head out and check out some of the launch events.
After the numerous reports of 7-11 selling the game early, I couldn't resist popping by my local store to see if anyone was perhaps stopping in to get an early copy. It would appear that 7-11 has a way to go before my hometown thinks of it in the same sentence as "video games."
I swear, we have like 5 GameStop stores near my house.
This GameStop is where I normally go to get my games, so I figured I'd see what they were doing.
There were clusters of folks hanging out front, without much of an organized line. From what I could gather they'd just sold them in order of appearance and the receipt numbers were the order of distribution. This was a pretty good idea, I thought, as everyone was then able to just hang out and be social.
Due to policy, I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the store, but rest assured there were a bunch of people in there too, including at least one young man in a costume.
Another interesting thing to note: One of the parents of a group of teenagers came by with bags full of snacks and sodas for the other gamers in the store to enjoy while waiting for their copies of Wrath.
It's very dark out, but the lady in the blue dress is a gamer grandma! She told me that she's 54, and loves to play World of Warcraft. She had two or three characters at level 70, and said her favorite thing to do in-game was to help new players out when people try to gank them. You see, she plays on a PvP server!
While many others headed in to take advantage of the free snacks and drinks that another patron had brought, these folks remained outside to enjoy the lovely weather and talk about WoW.
After hanging out for twenty minutes or so, I bid my fellow WoW players farewell and hit the road in search of other launch lines and events.
This particular line is leading up to the GameStop in my local mall. The crowd, while decent-sized, was largely subdued, talking quietly in small groups.
This GameStop store was still closed and wasn't letting anyone in. Considering the lack of any real event at this location versus the contest going at the other one I'd just come from, I decided to hit the road and keep looking for a large gaggle of gamers -- and perhaps an event.
The Best Buy blue brigade emerged from the store almost as soon as I got there and started wheeling a cart up and down the line. Hmm...
Sure enough, this was a much bigger line than I'd seen in the other locations as yet. It started here...
it ran down the wall a little bit...
I'd note the two guys who are blurred on the left-hand were repeatedly yelling at me about taking their picture and thinking this was really, really funny. As such, you have a guest cameo from Sirs Not Appearing in this Line One and Two.
a little bit further down along the wall...
around the corner...
on the edge of the corner...
the rest of the way back into the parking lot. Not anywhere nearly as imposing a line as the one Elizabeth posted from Austin, but not bad for St. Pete!
The employees were doing a good job making sure everyone not only got cards and knew to have receipts and ID, but a local EMT crew also checked in to make sure everything was going OK.
These two hardcore WoW fans told me they'd been sitting outside the Best Buy since 5:45 PM (Eastern) this afternoon. Apparently people had stopped to ask them if they were waiting for the Black Friday sales. (I don't understand why someone would ask that either, considering how far from Black Friday we are.)
From what they told me, The next group after them in line arrived sometime between 9:30 PM and 10:00 PM, with most of the rest of the people showing up steadily since then. (Lots of people were still showing up as I was talking with them.)
A Best Buy employee holds up one of the posters they'd been giving away to everyone in line. Pretty cool.
These two brothers perked up when I said I was there for WoW Insider, and asked to be in the gallery. They said they read the site "all the time" and really enjoy it.
Folks were trying to outdo each other from then on, but with readers coming up to say hi and ask to be included in the launch gallery, who was I to say no?
What can I say? We love our readers.
One sporting a heck of a wild hat, too. Silliness abounded in the Best Buy line, with many people cutting up to pass the time.
These two employees made sure that all the new people in line were taken care of as I headed out to see if I could catch one more crowd.
The line at Wal-Mart was largely pretty quiet, despite being fairly long.
Moving closer to the counter, you could see a bit more interest in what was going on (primarily as they'd started ringing people up by then) but otherwise, still very quiet.
The first people in line were all there for Collector's Editions. They sold out of the CEs within a matter of minutes. The rest of the line wound quietly off into the distance. With Wrath officially launched in St. Pete, I headed home to dream of my own soon-to-be-arriving Collector's Edition.
This is the line at 8:50pm at the Best Buy in Northridge.
Mirabella, Encanto and Sussurro from the Alliance guild Pirates of the Hallowed Tree on The Scryers. Tirah from Crushridge is peeking in.
Mirabella showing off her guild tabard t-shirt.
Elektria plays on Crushridge and is also representing Popcorn Review. He designed Tirah's T-Shirt.
The back of Tirah's T-shirt designed by Elektria.
Thaumboy from Ner'zul is hanging out with is friends in Death is Eternal on Wildhammer who are, of course, For the Horde!
The Horde members of Endless Waltz are hanging with their new Alliance friend, Omegarogue from the guild Diligent.
Falkuron and Allowyn represent the Alliance guild Poorplay.
Agrobasa says he looks just like his Dwarf. He and Theiyla represent the Alliance guild Gul's Angels.
My spousal unit is obviously thrilled that I'm taking his picture here. He is Onnix, guild leader of Grim (Horde, Daggerspine). Also pictured here is Corloc the Warlock from Grim and representing me is my little minigamer who is obviously too busy playing Super Mario to look at the camera.
Belgianrofl (my husband wants to steal your name), Buugog and Mertingopeav are, of course, for the Horde.
Bellalugosis is representing the Horde from Zul'jin.
Impromptu spelling of WoW by the members of Internet Tough Guys from Dragonmaw (Horde).
The Horde guild Free Radicals represent the server Bonechewer.
This is the end of the line at 11pm. It got longer before midnight. The Best Buy in Northridge were communicative, organized and (most importantly) very fair about their extra copies of the Collector's Edition. They also tried to sell us WoW cards and game time and and computer upgrades, etc. with intelligence and humor. Sorry guys, we had to hurry home to play!
The Gamestop at the Northridge Fashion center (about a quarter mile from the Best Buy) also had a long line.
The line was split in two, separating pre-orders from the rest.
And here is the Gamestop in Northridge that is not in the mall, but is half a mile from the mall and about a quarter mile from the Best Buy. When we were there at 10:30pm, it looked as if customers who had pre-ordered were being let in, but we could have been wrong.