By Etienne Vlok
Every once in a while, a game is released that has such raw selling potential that it calls for something more out of the ordinary than the usual gathering of gamers on launch day. Indeed, there exists a very special social gathering for just these titles – an occasion where the truly hardcore can congregate to freeze their collective ass off while collecting their game. I speak, of course, of the sacred ritual of the midnight launch.
We seldom see it here in South Africa – I attended one last year for Halo 3 – but when it does happen, it’s usually something special, considering how small our gaming community really is when compared to big markets like Europe or the US.
Grand Theft Auto IV most definitely falls in that special AAA category that will convince people to skip on a few hours of sleep and brave the bitter cold simply to have the game earlier. As such, Animeworx Centurion hosted a midnight launch to celebrate the release of the game last night.
Things kicked off at around 10 o’clock, with the crowd slowly pulling in. Three Xbox 360’s were set up and running the game for customers to have some fun with, while a goodly supply of snacks and cold drinks were on hand to help pass the time.
By 11 o’clock, the crowd had grown to about 50 people in size, with a steady stream of people rotating in and out of the hot chairs to have a chance to get some early time with the game. Owing to the launch creeping ever closer, people were more interested in having some brief fun than getting into the plot, so wild experimentation was the order of the day. Suffice to say that the physics engine was liberally put through its paces, with some spectacular car crashes leading to various exclamations not fit to repeat here. Some people managed to run the blockade that prevents you from crossing from the first island to the second island, leading to an epic showdown in the centre of Star Square with most of the Liberty City Police Department. Those not watching the game, browsed through the store.
Most of the crowd having paid beforehand, the actual handing out of the game proceeded swiftly, with all copies of the Limited Editions laid claim to within the first few minutes. Not long after midnight, almost everyone was on their way home to get their first real taste of life in Liberty City.
Said Carl van Blerk, owner of the store: â€œIt’s always nice when you have a game that basically sells itself to the fans. GTA serves as a twofold opportunity by giving us the chance to offer something extra to our community of regulars with regards to how we launch it – and it’s definitely gratifying to see such a decent turnout.â€
Thanks go out to Carl, Ricardo and Nicky for putting together and running a very enjoyable launch event without any hiccups. Speaking strictly for myself, I always try to support specialist gaming stores as opposed to buying at some of the large retail chains, since the former knows a lot more about the product they are selling, and are usually willing to go the extra mile for the customer to find them the product they want. In this regard, AWX Centurion must be commended for the consistently high quality service they deliver to the Centurion and Pretoria gaming communities at large.
Last Updated: April 29, 2008