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Xbox 360 launches in South Africa


If you're a gamer living in South Africa, chances are that your visual periphery was dominated this past weekend by Microsoft's Xbox 360 launch and its accompanying marketing campaign. Nearly a year after the system's first-worldwide launch, the Xbox 360 became officially available to eager shoppers at the stroke of midnight on Friday, 29 September. Playable in-store kiosks, radio advertisements, campus tournaments and vaguely sinister cardboard stands announced not only the arrival of "the next generation of gaming," but the expansion of choice.

Unless you wanted to import the original Xbox or stick your hand into the awkward and tangled mess of Gamecube distribution lines, the PlayStation 2 was the only console the average gamer could reliably and affordably find in game stores. The merits of Sony's system have long since been established and it's easy to argue that South Africa got the best console out of the bunch, though "best" loses much of its meaning when it becomes interchangeable with "only." Consider for a moment how your gaming habits might be affected if two out of three consoles weren't readily available to you.

For comparison's sake (and because we didn't have much else to do) we attended one of the midnight launches at BT Games (Northgate) in Johannesburg, taking care to snap pictures and generally harass people who simply wanted to pick up their pre-orders in peace. Several midnight events took place all over the country, coinciding with the beginning of rAge -- a gaming expo we'll tell you about later.

With several hours to go before midnight, a few eager souls begin to gather.

More gathering ensues. At this point, people are already deciding who they'll be able to beat up successfully in the parking lot should the console sell out.

Meanwhile, store employees set up stands for Dead or Alive 4 and Project Gotham Racing 3 tournaments.

The group continues to grow (more annoyed at some guy taking pictures of them).

Though nearly all human beings detest lines, they're quite adept at creating them.

It is decided that the line's direction should be altered. Democracy is clearly at work here.

More people arrive. It seems that after a single night, sales in South Africa might overtake those in Japan. Nyuk nyuk.

Following the sounds of various beeps and boops leads one to this impromptu DS Lite corner. The game is Metroid Prime: Hunters and the eventual winner is likely to be arthiritis.

The doors are about to open and it's becoming awfully difficult to move through this corridor of the shopping centre. Though Dead Rising isn't releasing in South Africa until next month, we feel strangely compelled to make creative use of a parasol.

The first customers escape the store with their newly acquired consoles. Unsurprisingly, the most popular games appear to be Oblivion, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Saint's Row. We don't see anybody leaving with a Core system -- was there a rear exit?

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