Last Monday, I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a Halo 3 Launch event in Seattle. I was flown in to Sea-Tac and met up with other community people in the airport. We checked into our rooms, then migrated to a local sports bar for some football and wings. After our stomachs were full, and our bills were paid, we made our way to the local Best Buy, where in about 16 hours from then, mobs of Halo fans would grace the sidewalks and streets awaiting their copy of Halo 3. We scoped out the place, and saw the first 3 people in line. Photo op!
It was almost eerie to see the inside in such a state of calm. We all knew what was happening the next night; you could almost see the employees’ hands shaking.
We made our way back to the hotel, and were greeted by Tony and Chris from the Gamerscore Blog. We told tales of our own sites/communities as we sipped our drinks and relaxed. As things started to come to a close, Nelson Rodriguez, the newest addition to the Gamerscore Blog crew, showed up and went out to eat with a few of us to bar and grill called Joey’s. The massive burger and refills of Sprite were a nice end to that day; we found our way back to the hotel and no one had any trouble sleeping that night.
The next morning everyone met down in the lobby and were carted off to the Microsoft campus for a ‘Halo 3 Lock-In’. The anticipation was building. Everyone was eager to see what changes had been made since the Beta build, and we all wanted to sink our teeth into some Forge and Campaign.
We were ushered into one of two rooms and greeted by LCD screens that were displaying the Halo 3 menu. We found our stations, and began chugging along in Campaign; some opting for co-op, while others going ‘lone wolf’.
As we met for lunch and relaxed, we decided to try our hands at Forge. Sandtrap was the map of choice for my room, since everyone wanted to play around with the Elephants while still have plenty of room to fly around and blow stuff up.
As we finished up our sandwiches and soup, both rooms prepared for some multiplayer glory. Each room had a theme; it was the UNSC room versus the covenant room. For eight and a half hours we played various custom games pitting each room against the other. We would play a few games, then swap some players in the rooms, then play a few more, and swap some more. By 8:30 that night everyone had played with and against everyone else there. As the multiplayer came to a close, we loaded up on swag to hand out, hopped on the bus and headed over to the big launch event at Best Buy. As we got there, we were greeted with “Bungie! We love you! OMG, its Bungie!!!” The Halo mob then realized we were not Bungie, so there was a moment of disappointment. That didn’t last for long when they realized we had a ton of free stuff to give away.
At one point, we got a chance to go inside early (essentially reserved for press or celebrities) to take some pictures and see what was going on. We found out the store was more than prepared for that night. Game discs were pilled up in huge stacks. Controllers and faceplates and anything else Halo were in mass number as well. Oh, and they had a couple Halo 3 Xbox 360s, just a couple…
Also while inside, we got introduced to various sports stars. Pro athletes had been showing up hourly to play against people in line. Mariners’ and Seahawks’ players were hanging around with controllers in hand.
We got introduced to retired NFL star Warren Moon and Microsoft Vice President of Global Marketing, Jeff Bell. It was all so exciting to hear the rumble from fans outside, and see the motionless stacks of games awaiting them on the inside. The store was empty essentially. It was the extreme calm before the most extreme storm that was headed our way.
As we went outside, we heard news of a surprise guest. It was still not confirmed to us, and many didn’t even know about it, so it is safe to say that everyone else in line had NO IDEA who was showing up. We waited at the front doors, cameras ready, and saw fans go pale in the face as Bill Gates came out of Best Buy and went around shaking everyone’s hands. He stuck around and signed the game for the first person in line, and really seemed like he was as thrilled about it all as everyone else.
As fans were rolling in to get their games, you could see all sorts of Bungie people roaming the crowds. They had arrived by buses to the event and were signing all sorts of Halo merchandise that people brought up to them. I got to meet and listen to Marty O’Donnell as he talked with Foo Mo Jive and JVB from Podtacular. It was amazing getting to see him first hand since I have a lot of admiration for him and the music he has done that makes the Halo series what it is.
As things began to settle down, we all made our way back to our bus, and eventually back to our hotel rooms. I think “tired” would be an understatement as we all found our way to our beds rather quickly. My roommate, DoodiRock from 2old2play, and I chatted about our sites and bit, then knocked out for the night. (Editor’s Note: Anyone else see the irony in a Timmy, since I am under 25, rooming with a guy from 2old2play?)
Those few days were one of the most fun and exciting experiences I have ever had. It was so amazing to be able to attend the launch event that night and see that many Halo fans first hand. JVB and I were talking about how much it meant to us to see ‘our people’ from the Halo community turn out in force like that. Beyond the launch, playing the game all day with great people that I admire so much was a blast. I have been doing various interviews here at Tied the Leader for some time now and being able to put a face to so many names, and shake hands with those I have talked and exchanged emails with before is the MOST exciting thing from that whole event for me.
Thanks so much Chris, Tony, John, and Nelson from the Gamerscore Blog for inviting me and letting me experience it all. Also, thank you reader, for showing up to your local store and grabbing Halo 3. Gamers brought so much attention to ourselves for the Halo 3 launch. Media and news really took notice. We broke many records with sales, and with that, many stereotypes as well.
For more information and accounts from others who were there, check out these sites:
Gamerscore Blog, Halo.Bungie.Org, On10, XBL 10k Club, Uncle Gamer Radio, Evil Avatar, Podtacular, Aeropause, Ace Attorney’s Pictures, and Grunts R Us