I often question why I ever bothered turning out for a midnight launch.
What the hell had possessed me to leave the embracing warmth of my living room on a cold November night and drive a few miles to stand outside the nearest Game shop? Stood shivering, bored of the guy behind reeling off his zombie apocalypse survival plan to his mildly embarrassed friends, watching the hands of the clock idle by like truly the laziest bastards ever seen, and wondering the thought process that took place before the lad in front actually purchased his Assassin’s Creed jacket and then fuckin’ wore it, outside where others could see it!
And all for what? So I could whizz home, throw the disc hastily into the machine, make sure all my friends list see that I’ve got the fabled game already, that I have travelled the road of the midnight launcher, and then say, “forget it, I’m battered, time for bed.” Because honestly that was almost always all it was about for me, having the game first. How ridiculous of me.
All the sane folk would nip down to Tesco or some other big supermarket at a reasonable hour the following day and be home and playing whilst I was still sleeping off the late night party shenanigans of queuing.
In all I’ve attended four midnight launches. Having said that, I did once jump on a bus for the nearest Toys ‘R’ Us at a daft time in the morning to nab Donkey Kong Country for the SNES because word was that stock was severely limited. Turns out word had been wrong but I was happy enough. But in terms of genuine stay up until midnight and eventually get the game at around quarter past one launches, I’ve seen four. Two were for Call of Duty games, one was for Gears of War 3 and the last was, I feel shameful even writing this, for Kinect.
The Kinect launch followed the very day after a Call of Duty launch, the only difference was that the crowd of a few hundred that snaked along the street had been whittled down to four of us. Four of us who stood for an hour without uttering a single word to one another. It was all shuffled feet and inner life questions such as, “what am I doing with my life?” that night.
The whole midnight launch experience has never lived up to even the most mediocre of my expectations. Perhaps it’s living in a quieter part of the country that does it, but there are no fireworks or excitement. I mean a ripple of appreciation spontaneously broke out once when the Costa opposite brought out a tray of steaming coffee for us, probably out of utter sympathy rather than a bond of brothers, but it was hardly a tale to tell the grandkids one day. When we later view images from the city where there are DJ’s playing and there’s cosplay aplenty, oh wait, we did have the Assassin’s Creed jacket guy, okay, but when the Dj’s are playing and there’s a genuine buzz in the air it’s hard not to feel a little cheated when the only thing in the air at your own event was the smell of rolled up cigarettes and drizzle.
To be honest though, as my arrival at the first of those launches was imminent I was quite excited to see what it was all about. I remember riding up the escalator wondering what madness sat at the top. Would anyone turn up, would it be all wild costumes and excited gamers? As I ascended and stepped off I was greeted by a line of roughly forty miserable faces, all of whom had probably had a similar ride up the escalator as myself. I took my own glum face to the back of the queue and awaited the next arrival.
I think what I’m saying, pretty bluntly to be fair, is that I hate midnight launches. Or at least I hate attending them. They’ve never failed to prove a let-down. Every last one of them. I have no fond memories that were given birth on a damp street outside Game.
There are times I actually feel ashamed to be there and I hate that. I’m deeply proud of my hobby. But as people roll by on their way home after a night out eating and drinking with friends, I sheepishly look at my feet as they pass. I mean I’m not a kid, I should have the patience and resolve to wait twelve hours or so to play the game that I’m literally going to spend five minutes on before hitting the sleep. But no, or at least I didn’t.
I’ve vowed I’m done with the launches. To be honest part of this comes from the huge lack of inspiration that currently blankets this generation, I simply can’t be arsed queuing for a game that barely even ignites a flicker of excitement in me. But beyond that, I’ve finally learnt from bitter experience that a midnight launch is not for me.