Most of us have had the thrilling experience of queuing up for hours before the midnight release of our favorite titles. Exchanging opinions and information with other gamers, eagerly awaiting that fresh smell of a newly opened game before finally sliding it into our console of choice in an almost sexual ritual. These are just some of the things gamers look forward to when picking up the latest fad but have you ever thought you were risking your life as you sit outside at 23:58 waiting for those store doors to slide open?
Midnight release announcements are big news in today’s gaming industry as thousands flock to nearby outlets to grab their game before the general public. I’ve even known people to queue for the game before going straight home to bed, before even playing it. I’ve attended quite a few myself and it’s always nice to see people and gamers from all backgrounds. The guy with the dirty overalls that’s just rushed from work, the excited kid gently pushing his dad in anticipation, the hardcore gamers at the very front of the queue that have literally avoided washing and human contact for 20 hours just to get that front spot. It’s a moment where people from all walks of life come together as they share the simple love of gaming.
However, things can quite often turn nasty. Way back in 2008 an 18-year-old boy was mugged by two men less than half an hour after purchasing Grand Theft Auto IV at a midnight launch in Leyland, Lancashire UK. His jaw and nose were shattered in the attack and the perpetrators were never caught.
In early November of 2010, a month most gamers would associate with the Call of Duty: Black Ops launch, a man was robbed of two copies of the eagerly awaited FPS title. Thankfully he wasn’t seriously hurt but in any situation like that, the potential is always there.
More recently on September 17th a man in London was stabbed and robbed of his Grand Theft Auto V copy as well as his phone and his watch. This occurred at 1am in the morning following the mans attendance at a nearby GTA V midnight launch.
The majority of games today retail at $50-60, not really a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. When I consider that the upcoming launch of next-generation consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, will carry a tag of almost 10x that value, I do feel a little concerned. If individuals are willing to stab somebody over a $50 item, what will they be willing to do for something much more valuable?
Do you think stores should take more responsibility for this? If you were to ask a member of the police if they would advise you carrying around a $500 item at 1am, what do you think they would say? Don’t get me wrong, events such as those listed above have also happened in daylight but are usually far less severe and help is usually at hand if someone is seriously injured.
Some locations are at more risk than others. For example, if you grab your copy at a Walmart or Tesco midnight launch, there’s usually ample parking, meaning a short distance back to your car. However, retail outlets in pedestrianized locations tend to not offer any form of parking, meaning consumers can expect a dark walk back to their vehicle.
Would it be asking too much to get these retail outlets to position a security guard or two in the area? Or perhaps arrange nearby parking for all attendees and ensure the path between the two locations is monitored? Maybe you think I’m just being paranoid? Leave your thoughts below.