The midnight launch event for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at the Best Buy just south of Westwood here in Los Angeles last night was mighty impressive. It all started with a tank (replica) setting up shop next to a giant green dome that beamed in the parking lot like a corporate sponsored UFO pod of some kind.
Inside the gleaming dome were dozens of Xbox 360 kiosks where attendees of the midnight launch could get their hands on the game before and after they picked up copies of their own.
About halfway through the night, a massive armored assault vehicle rolled into the parking lot and parked in front of the store. When the back door opened, a team of Infinity Ward developers emerged, carrying a batch of games that would be sold to those devoted fans who braved the low-60s temperatures to wait in line to get the game.
Once the dozens of developers, and Infinity Ward CEO Vince Zampella were assembled, it was off to the green dome again where the developers sat down and signed hundreds of game box inserts, and posters. Some women had them sign a giant purse; one dude who I believe works for IW found himself pinned down while all the other IW guys signed his arms. It was a hit with the fans for sure. Best of all, along with every signature came a, “Thanks for coming out” or “Thanks for the support" from every single IW dev.
As far as the actually handing out of games went, it was all pretty smooth and well organized. That is of course unless you were one of the people who showed up to the event before midnight. See, Best Buy let all the people who were waiting in line from around 9:30 PM on purchase the game, but they were only given a receipt, since the game didn’t officially go on sale until midnight. Those receipts were then good for a free signed game box insert from the dev team. Once you had that, you were then free to go back to the front of the store and get in the “I already paid. Now give me my damn game” line.
So by around 11:45 PM, the pre-paid line was wrapped around the building, while the line for people who had just gotten there was about 35 people long. When the doors opened, they started letting in pre-paid people in groups of 10 or so. At the same time, people who just arrived were able to go inside and purchase the game, and instantly receive a copy of the game. Meanwhile, all those people who arrived early and paid in advanced were forced to stand in line for even longer, and watch people, who just strolled up, walk out of the store with copy after copy.
I didn’t notice anyone get visibly upset about this whole deal, but I didn’t stay to see the final copies get sold, so who knows what happened after I left. Maybe there was a huge night-vision-powered brawl in the parking lot. Speaking of dressing up, there were two standouts in the cosplay department. One guy came in full ghillie suit attire, so naturally I tried to get as many pictures of him as I could without seeming too creepy. The other dude came dressed in a rather frightening outfit that I couldn't tell was supposed to be a terrorist or a special ops soldier. Either way, it looked quite convincing.
Overall, it was a very smooth and painless event. Having so many IW devs on hand to interact with the fans and celebrate their accomplishment was truly a sight, and it seemed like everyone was having a blast, and rightfully so. They definitely earned it.
I took a ton of photos from the event, and you can find them all over at our midnight launch photo gallery. And again, if you have any wacky/funny/bizarre launch night stories, feel free to email me at Jake@g4tv.com.
The following photos are kind of random, but I just dig it them too much not to include them. I call the first one "Contact."
And the second one has no title, but is basically just here to illustrate how popular MW2 really is. I mean, look! The MW2-flavored (?) Monster energy drink is waiting in line for the game! Come on! It's also a testament to just how much sugar that drink contains, because I didn't put that can there. I put it down after I was done with it, and a second later, it had walked over and gotten in line on its own. Crazy, huh?