Heavy wind and relentless rain didn't deter dozens of locals from standing in line all night last week to shell out hundreds of dollars for the "it" holiday item.
Fred Meyer and Costco opened last Tuesday to lines of eager gamers waiting to get their hands on the new Microsoft Xbox 360 entertainment system. With a limited supply of the highly anticipated video game console available nationwide, many will have to wait several weeks or bid online for a chance to play the next generation of video games.
"Right now that's the big holiday item," said Sean Caughran, 22, who waited outside Fred Meyer for nearly a dozen hours to be one of the few owners of the Xbox 360 in Juneau. An avid collector, Caughran said he tries to purchase all the new game systems on their release dates.
Caughran's roommate, Richard Moriarty, also purchased an Xbox 360.
"It's the first time I have ever stood in one place for about the length of a work day," Moriarty said.
The line outside Fred Meyer mainly consisted of locals who were eager to get their hands on the next generation of video games, he said. The police were summoned to the location at one point when the line began to grow.
"It was cold and rainy as you'd expect, but it had a good environment to it. Everyone there was there for the same thing, so everyone got along pretty well," Moriarty said.
Two types of packages were available in limited numbers. Caughran said the standard package cost $299.99. The other, for $399.99, included a wireless controller, DVD remote and a hard drive. Only 42 units were available at Fred Meyer.
Allen Arnold, an assistant warehouse manager at Costco, said customers waiting in line were given a briefing before the doors opened.
"We had someone go out and talk to them to let them know to come in in an orderly fashion," he said.
Arnold said the Xbox 360 has proved to be a hot item this holiday season.
"We had 24 of them come in, which is one pallet, and they were gone in the first eight minutes," he said. "We actually had enough people lined up at the front door when we opened that grabbed all that we had."
Moriarty said he spent the weekend playing "Need for Speed: Most Wanted" and becoming familiar with the new system. He said the Xbox 360 is a step up from the original Xbox.
"The graphics are better and you can do more at once with the system without blowing it up," Moriarty said. "But besides that it's pretty much another console system, as far as games go."
Caughran said the games that were released to coincide with the system's release are not as good as they will become in time.
"They're a little bit unpolished but they're doing a good job of using all the effects they can to make it look really shiny right off the bat," he said.
The real advancements are in the capabilities of the machine, Caughran said. Online gaming, downloadable features and music storing are a few of the features.
"You can actually customize your sound tracks for any game. The (music) will take right over for the system sound, which is a fairly cool feature," Caughran said. "It's a very good multimedia system now. The interface is really well polished, just when you turn it on and try to navigate through the system."
The limited release has some speculating that Microsoft released fewer systems than the market wanted to create a buzz about the new product. Caughran doesn't agree.
"They could sell as many as they could make," he said. "I really think if they had the capacity to put out more they would because people would buy it."
Microsoft was unavailable for comment at press time.
The rules of supply and demand have created buzz for the product on the World Wide Web. In some cases, online auction sites are selling the Xbox 360 for more than double the suggested retail price.
The rumor is one more shipment will make it to Juneau before Christmas in mid-December, Caughran said.
Being one of the few that have the Xbox 360 in town was worth waiting in line through a night of bad weather, Moriarty said.
"It's pretty much the most satisfying part. There's just something about being one of the few. There's no serious worth to it, it's just kind of cool," he said.