After weeks and months of waiting, the best moment of 2014 arrived early Thursday afternoon. The sun was shining as I walked in GameStop, the box sitting on the counter in front of me and, fortunately, there was just enough money in my bank account. One swipe of plastic adorned with a Columbus Blue Jackets logo later and, after turning down offers for a handful of game preorders, the elusive PlayStation 4 belonged to me.
And despite my paranoia, ninjas did not appear from the tops of buildings and behind corners to take away my newfound joy. No crazed people surrounded me on the train ride home to steal it from my arms. There was no Cato to be found in my apartment, ready to grab the glorious console. And when I plugged it in, it worked. Paranoia over.
But the real story takes place from July 2013 up to the morning hours of February 27.
With my internship at Penn State in the books and July on the calendar, I was the typical, 23-year old unemployed kid moving back into my childhood bedroom while I sent out job applications in disgustingly large quantities. For the summer months, I watched my bank account dwindle while rallying funds from a part-time job at Office Depot to pay student loans and as friends debated which console to preorder and pick up on release day, I was buying into the belief that playing PS3 well into 2014 and even 2015 didn’t sound too horrible. It was with a twang in my heart I accepted that future.
Release day came and went. I watched the FX special for the PS4 and nearly wept (not really; it was sad though). I’ve been an early adopter of gaming tech since the PS2 came to North America when I was at the ripe old age of 10. Since then, despite a year-long experiment with Xbox 360, I’ve been mainly a Sony buyer and to see the PS4 everywhere except connected to my TV was upsetting. Luckily, I had the trusty PS3 and even received a PS Vita as a college graduation present from my best friend. Lucky, I was.
Just a month later, the luck hit a new high as I accepted a job in New York City. So now here I am and after a couple months of work, the bank account was fully equipped to take a $400 blow. And then the shortages became increasingly apparent. Missed out on the preorder and early holiday buying? Sucks for you. They’ll be available again in April, Sony said. But the Xbox One is available everywhere! I almost caved and went the Microsoft route a few times, but stayed true to uniting my Vita with a PS4.
I scoured the internet, basically living on Twitter and Reddit for a few days to look for news of availability. With the help of nowinstock.net, I found a two-game PS4 bundle from Walmart.com that I didn’t really want, but I was desperate. I had all my information entered and waited for the product to go back in stock. It popped up, I hit buy and ship and received the confirmation 10 minutes later. Joyous day! Two days from then, I would have the PS4.
Like all good things, I was forced to wait a little longer. I awoke the next morning to an email (a common one, it seems) claiming that despite my successful order AND the money being removed from my bank account, my “payment was invalid” and there was no console heading my way. Bummed, I was. Very bummed. Five hours of staring at Walmart.com wasted.
A moment, long-awaited
So I swore off buying one from the internet and instead decided to call every GameStop in NYC. None of them were very helpful, understandably. None in stock, not sure when a new shipment will arrive, they said. So I headed to my most-visited GameStop with a surprisingly decent staff. One short conversation with a GS employee and he let me know to head back six days later, Feb. 28. Circled on the calendar.
As you can guess from the Feb. 27 date mentioned before, I didn’t wait until Feb. 28. Despite staying up until 5 a.m. the morning of the 27th playing Guacamelee!, I swore to myself I’d wake up at 10 a.m. and call GS as soon as they opened. Somehow, I fought through just a few hours of sleep and was greeted on the phone by Rashaun, the same guy who gave me the tip days earlier. There were no PS4s in stock at the moment, but call again around noon, he said. Called again.
To hell with waiting, I said. He assured me they were coming today, so I got on the train and made my way to the Bronx. One annoying train delay later, I walked in on that sun-shining day and promptly took my place in line behind what appeared to be three groups of customers outside the stereotypical gamer demographic. Older, maybe mid-30s-40s moms trading in (relatively) ancient 360 games and a couple guys in their late 20s buying a random motocross game for PS3. So I waited in line for what seemed an eternity.
I knew the inevitable “sorry, man, none in stock” response was approaching as I opened my mouth to pop the question. So instead, I delayed the moment and opted for karma points by telling Rashaun I appreciated his help the past week and for putting up with my multiple phone calls. And then it came: “Do you have any PS4s?”
“Sure thing, let me go grab one from the back.”
HOLY BALLS THE WAIT IS OVER.
YOU’RE BACK IN THE GAME, BRIAN!
CHECK YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, BRIAN, YOU BUMBLING IDIOT!
Thank the tech gods and developers everywhere for mobile banking apps. I shifted a few dollars around and I was ready to swipe the plastic card adorned with the Columbus Blue Jackets. No ninjas, no thieves on the train, no Cato. Just me, my PS4 and plenty of gaming memories on the horizon.
Welcome Home, PlayStation 4
Thanks Rashaun, GameStop and the MTA for delaying the 1 train like a bunch of assholes.
But mostly, thanks Sony. I think the PS4 is a keeper.