It was supposed to be a disaster, there was supposed to be riots but Dick Smith’s midnight launch for the PlayStation 4, complete with 300 unsecured consoles up for grabs was as harmless as any other midnight launch.
No-one was more surprised than me.
The set up was hardly consumer friendly. Dick Smith ran a competition. Instead of allocating 300 units of the console to those with pre-orders it attempted to drive customers to its Facebook page and its store with a competition with a strange prize: the opportunity to buy a PlayStation 4 at its midnight launch in Sydney’s CBD.
That in itself wasn’t the problem, perhaps the most difficult pill to swallow was this: entrants to the competition wouldn’t be informed whether they would be able buy a PlayStation 4 on the night, meaning they would have to travel into the city on a Thursday night and wait for the winners to be announced before possibly going back empty handed.
Seemed grossly unfair — not only to the people taking part in the competition, but to those with existing pre-orders missing out on a console at launch.
And it was grossly unfair if we’re being perfectly honest — yet the Dick Smith launch party last night appeared to go off without a hitch. Not a single complaint really, let alone the all-out riot I was expecting when the wrong names were called out and certain people didn’t get the PS4 they had hoped for
Part of it had to do with the numbers. According to the Dick Smith representative I spoke to there were roughly 600 entrants into the competition meaning that, from the get go, entrants had a one in two chance. When you consider the fact that not everyone who entered ended up heading to the store, folks who actually came to the midnight launch had a very, very strong chance of walking home with a PS4.
And everyone, it seems, knew what they had signed up for. People who might have been angry at Dick Smith’s method of dishing out its consoles most likely didn’t sign up for the competition and they sure as hell didn’t turn up to the event itself.
The winners were shown in four separate ‘rounds’, batch of names that appeared on screens periodically throughout the night. If the PS4s went unclaimed they went back into the pot, meaning that another person would be given a chance in a later round of winner announcements.
It was a strange night. The gamers among the crowd killed time playing FIFA 14 on one of the various consoles set up around the store, whilst those clearly picking the console up for a friend or a relative waited patiently in the food court nearby, wearing the grimaces of folks who’d rather be anywhere else but here. Music blared from speaker, customers gorged themselves with cookies and ice cream and they waited. Then they picked up their consoles and left the store.
It doesn’t make it fair — it doesn’t make it right. Dick Smith still essentially screwed its own pre-ordering customers out of 297 consoles that could have and should have belonged to them.
But the people who were angry, it seems, stayed home last night.