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Midnight Launch Event: Gainesville edition

Eliah Hecht

I pre-ordered months ago, and finally the night had come. A few days ago GameStop robo-called my phone to tell me to come down at 11:00, so they could pre-process the transaction and make the whole thing that much smoother. Anticipating lines and general hilarity, I got to the mall around 10:30. It took me a while to find the part of the mall where the line was; here's what I saw when I stepped out of my car.

The above line goes on for quite a ways out of the picture. But it turns out there were two lines, one for EB Games and one for GameStop. Fortunately I'd gone with the latter -- its line was much shorter, for some reason.

They didn't seem to be very close to letting us in, so I went around to observe the line.

The folks at the front of the GameStop line had gotten there at noon, but mall security made them go away, so they went to a movie and came back. They were kind of blurry, probably because they had been standing there for so long.

Every so often mall security would roll by, I guess to make sure we weren't about to riot or anything. Hi, mall security!

It got later and later, and eventually it became evident that they weren't going to let us in at 11:00. As it started getting perilously close to midnight, a security officer came out and told us that not only were they not opening just yet, but when they did, they would be escorting groups of five to the stores, and not letting another group in till a group came out. Yes, that's right, no mall raid for us -- GameStop and EB were strictly 5-man capped. The man in the blue sweater is clearly not impressed.

Here's one of the first people to emerge, and he has an intriguingly large bag. What could be in it?

Collector's Edition, of course! These intrepid souls were not only first in line, but seem to have actually brought a laptop to install the game on in front of everybody. Of course, without internet access, they wouldn't have been able to play, but who knows, maybe they had EVDO or something.

I'm not really sure, because soon after snapping that shot I got to go inside. GameStop's front window was totally devoted to BC ads, which seems kind of silly seeing as how I'm sure they sold out by the time the mall opened for regular business.

Money was exchanged and pre-orders checked, pre-bagged copies of the game were handed over, and strategy guides and t-shirts were offered at a 20% discount (though I didn't see anybody buy one).

So two hours and quite a few photos later, I found myself walking (under guard) through the empty mall with my very own Burning Crusade. They told me to stop taking pictures after this.

Since then, of course, I've rolled my Draenei and taken my main through half a level of Outland quests. I have to say, both Azuremyst Isle and Hellfire Peninsula are really outstanding. I am very well pleased with what I have seen so far of WoW's latest evolution. But I really can't kill one more demon, orc, or mechanical without passing out with my face in the keyboard, so it's bedtime for this blogger.

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