I cancelled my Titanfall reservation with Amazon on Sunday. I really wanted the game, but the idea of saving some cash at the time seemed ideal.
It wasn’t until Monday night that I changed my mind. I looked at my phone and saw it was 11PM.
“I can still make it to a midnight launch,” I thought to myself.
Memories of the Titanfall beta poured over me like a freak subliminal message. I had to have it, and I had to have it at midnight. I began to ponder where I would go. Surely, I could attain a copy without a preorder, right? GameStop? No, I didn’t want to wait outside for an hour. Best Buy? No, for the same reason I ruled out GameStop. Wal-Mart was the ideal choice. Luckily, I live near a 24-hour establishment.
I expected a crowd, or a line at the very least, but the game section was a dead zone. You wouldn’t have even known Titanfall was coming out that night, aside from the Wal-Mart employee attaching signage to the video game kiosks.
I looked at my watch: 11:30. I guess I was early. I was relieved and disappointed at the same time; I knew I was going to get a copy of Titanfall, but I was looking forward to the wacky midnight launch crowd. The last time I was at a midnight launch was for Modern Warfare 3. I was due for another romp.
I wandered around the electronics section for a while. I laughed at the $59.99 HDMI cables (on clearance), and the shelf of two-dozen preowned Sneak King games on sale for $2.74. How did Wal-Mart even obtain that many copies of Sneak King?
11:45. I spotted a gentlemen wandering around the game section. I went out on a limb and asked if he was here for Titanfall.
“Yeah,” he said. “You too?”
Finally, I thought to myself. I started to feel a little creepy after watching the PlayStation 4 promo for the fifth time in a row.
“Yeah, but I don’t know where we’re supposed to go,” I told him.
There didn’t seem to be a designated area for the launch. I jokingly asked the man if we had our dates mixed up.
11:50, we decided to form our own line in anticipation. By this time, our numbers had grown. We had a mother/father duo, buying the Xbox One Titanfall bundle for their son, three guys for Titanfall (myself included), and another gentleman waiting for Dark Souls II.
We all started sharing out Titanfall beta experiences, aside from the mother/father duo, and the guy waiting for Dark Souls II. We all agreed that jumping onto an enemy Titan and blasting away its robot brains was one of the best parts of the game.
We eventually discussed next-gen, the pros and the cons of each system. Much to my surprise, there was no bickering, no arguments, and no slander. Everyone was just excited for the new generation, it was refreshing.
Aside from the majority of the queue being white males, it was a diverse bunch. We had a snow-plow driver, a print screener, and a man who maintained boilers. I was almost hesitant to disclose my profession. Writing about games seemed so secondary to what they do.
12:00, no sign of what we came for. I tried to imagine the turmoil that would have ensued, had there been a crowd of 50 people waiting for Titanfall and Dark Souls II. Everyone was surprisingly calm about the situation. We were too enthralled in conversation to get upset about getting our games a few minutes later.
12:04, the cart rolled up to the register. We all eyed it down as it made its way, similar to the way you eye down a tray of food at a restaurant when you know it’s headed to your table.
The cashier politely asked for the first customer. I knew I was there first, but I didn’t want to assume the position. We all looked around at each other, they eventually ushered me to go first. A Wal-Mart supervisor asked to take my photo with the game. I was a little surprised by the sudden fanfare, especially after the haphazard presentation of the launch itself. I kindly obliged, and now a photo of me holding Titanfall is floating around somewhere.
That was it, the midnight launch was over for me. I turned around to the other Titanfallers and told them to have fun; our brief friendship was over. I got in my car, posted a photo of the game to Instagram, and went on my way. In the end, I had gotten the midnight launch experience I wanted.