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The Big Game Hunt (A PS4 Story)

November 29th, 2013 by Paul M. Ward Comments




Earlier this week I wrote an article about how, without any preorder, I had planned to pick up a Playstation 4 this Friday. Of course, I questioned the sense in this, and many agreed – it seemed like a fool’s quest.

On Thursday morning, I woke up and while eating my breakfast and sipping coffee, I found an article talking about non-preordered ps4’s being available in limited stock at nearby Tesco stores. Midnight launches rarely appeal to me unless there’s some freebees to go with it, but I thought this would make a good exception. It could save a lot of footwork on Friday morning, when surely it would be harder to track down.

While at work on Thursday, a 2nd article was sent on to me – Game stores will have non pre-ordered Ps4/ available too, first-come first-served. Weighing up the options and ease of getting there, I decided to go ‘all in’ and hedge my bets on Game Stores. Supermarkets are great, but I want to show my support for Game and other electronics stores who are disappearing from the High Street.

After finishing work at 10pm, I was standing outside Game in Donegal Arcade by 10:30pm, wrapped warmly and expecting a long night. However, a member of staff was ‘auditing’ the queue and making sure people had their preorder slips. As I did not, I was ushered to a 2nd queue inside, where I was informed I’d be told of the availability soon. While waiting, a guy joined the queue behind me and remarked that he had been to the very same Tesco store I had considered. 5 teenagers had arrived before him, and had already taken up what PS4s remained. The next Tesco store with stock was Craigavon. I had saved myself a trip, it seemed. A 2nd member of staff was ‘auditing’ this new queue, and when hearing I hadn’t preordered yet, he brought me over to the till to see what they could do. I was really impressed – they were being really efficient, and were obviously trying to help people as much as they could.

Then I seen the bundle that was available.

According to Head Office, I was informed, there are Ps4’s available for then to sell, but only if bought as part of a particular package. This ‘epic’ package consisted of a poor choice of 5 games (you could pick 2) and mediocre choice of Blu ray movies too (you could pick 3). It also had a Game branded headset and docking station for the controller. All for the asking price of £540.

I was flabbergasted. Enough that I even thought of the word flabbergasted to describe my feelings. The box that held the PS4 didn’t have those games or Blu Rays included. This was simply a way of trying to make more money from those who were desperate and left with no choice. Sure, this had come down from Head Office, and the staff were apologetic. I’ve never had an issue with the folk who work there, and their attempt to have attractive girls work on the tills to bedazzle awkward guys aside, I’d always felt like I was treated with respect for my gaming interests there. However, this ‘epic’ package felt like an insult to me. A simple matter of making money from the console instead had became a competition to see how much they could get a gamer to pay on top for add-ons.

Well, in my calmest manner, I walked away smiling but very disappointed. Was this a sign of how the next day would be going?

Day 2

Before heading to bed, the bitterness of Game’s result still in my mouth, I considered my strategy for launch day. There would be more people out and about. Parents trying to keep their kids happy. People who didn’t believe the hype machine at all. Others who, like myself, were running out of options. So, an early start was definitely needed. Next, I thought about my shop choices. Forestside had Sainsburys and a Game store, neither of which had a midnight launch. So, their stock would be going on sale first thing that morning. If I picked the right store, I could be in the clear. Sainsburys opened at 7am, so I went to sleep, knowing i’d be running on empty, energy-wise, but more confident in my plan.

My alarm woke me at 6am, and another option had spring to mind. The Castlereagh Superstore sold games. Maybe they would have consoles too? They opened at 6am though. So, bleary-eyed, I drank some sparkling water for breakfast, and headed out. No result. The guy who looked like the duty manager didn’t even seem to know what a Playstation 4 was (calling it a PS4 confuses non-gamers, I find) and had to ask his assistant. She confirmed they wouldn’t be stocking consoles, that was for their bigger stores.

Swing and a miss.

Onto Forestside then. I grabbed the bus and arrived at 6:45am. A small queue of 6 people had already started, and we shared stories to pass the time. Seemed that Sainsburys had 8 consoles available if you hadn’t preordered, so I’ll be fine. They had heard about the issue with Game’s ‘epic’ packages too, and said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ofcom or some governing body got involved in what they called ‘price rigging’. The shutters opened at 7am, and by 7:30 I was at home with this:

So, my Big Game Hunt had ended with success, but like all journeys, it had a few little lessons too.

1) Know your limits.
I don’t know how other stores will approach their Ps4 bundles, so ensure you know how much you want to spend, and stick to it. It can be tempting to throw money at a problem, and to avoid extra effort, but don’t. There are retailers who have more options available.

2) Do your homework.
Now that ‘launch day’ has arrived, be sure to phone stores before you travel there, if possible. Some will fob you off with ‘come to our store to find out’ and that can’t be helped. Others can let you check stock online, or order into store before Christmas so that you don’t have to worry about things going astray in the post office.

3) Don’t give up.
Honestly, it will probably come across as a lost cause at times, but determination will yield results. I was perhaps a little too quick to dismiss shopping brands, but it seems they want money just as much as gaming stores, without the need to buy extra large bundle of add-ons. I was able to get my Killzone package for £389 and get some Sainsburys points at the same time. Maybe the wife will appreciate those store points by way of an apology for waking her as I left for my hunt!

4) Have a proper breakfast.
Right now, I’m too hungry and tired to play my Ps4. But at least now I have it. I’m off to sleep to dream about being a pirate in Assassins Creed 4.

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Having mis-spent so much of his life in the lands of Ancient Greece, Azeroth, Hyrule and Renaissance Italy, Paul has decided to put his adventures down in his own words. His interests include buying into hype, wallowing in childhood nostalgia and discussing with his wife, Michelle, why they need to get an army of kittens. (To become the next Bond villain, of course.)

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