Today, there’s only one thing to blog about. Naturally it’s the fifth anniversary of the UK release of the Xbox 360.
The morning before the console hit the shelves, everyone in the know was worried about stock shortages, but word reached the internet that Asda Cribbs Causeway in Bristol had secured very limited stock for the midnight launch. It was going to be first-come, first-served. My brother and I took the decision to blag out of work, and we legged it down to Asda, getting there at about 11.30am. We were fifth and sixth in the queue. Just in time, because less than an hour later the manager was turning people away. Many of those queueing were on a knife-edge, as most of them wanted the Premium model but nobody was sure of the exact breakdown of inventory between that version and the (comparatively crippled) Core.
For the next twelve hours we waited and bonded with the other members of the queue. For that short time we were a merry band of brothers (and a couple of sisters), waiting in eager anticipation for what we hoped would be an amazing console. One of our number escaped the queue briefly and returned with a Monopoly board from Asda’s shelves, so we spent much of the rest of the wait playing a couple of absolutely epic games. I was the Hat. Passing shoppers looked at us, bemused, asking us what we were there for, and reacting with extreme confusion as their brains tried and failed to process why anyone would wait so long for a simple videogames console.
Finally the moment was here. It was midnight, and we were called up one by one to receive our consoles and whichever games we wanted. I went for Project Gotham Racing 3, Perfect Dark Zero, Call of Duty 2 and Condemned. I was relieved to be early enough in the queue to get a Premium, as I’d recently bought my first HD telly. My brother took pity on one of the other members of the queue, though. As he didn’t yet own an HDTV he arranged to swap the component cable in his own box for the composite/SCART shite in the other guy’s Core. Awww. The spirit of friendship.
The day had been so long that I only managed a quick hour on PGR3 after getting home before I had to go to sleep. But even by the following morning, when all talk was of zero stock of the console left on shelves, it was clear that the decision to queue had been the right one. And 5 years later there’s no doubt – in my mind, anyway – that the Xbox 360 is the best console of all time, completely smashing the expectations that Sony’s PlayStation 3 would overshadow it.
Happy birthday, Xbox 360. It’s been great getting to know you.