Meet Joey Chiu (centre) — who 10 days ago was first in line to buy the PlayStation 4 at its launch event in New York.
Soon after hearing word over Twitter when and where the campout would begin — on the preceding Wednesday — Chiu loaded up a thermos and made off for The Standard Hotel in Manhattan, about an hour from his residence. Chiu had no expectations he'd be first in line. "I was fine with that because at the end of the day, there were gonna be 444 units for sale here and I wanted to walk away with one, not necessarily the first one," he said.
Still, when he rolled up on the set, he saw people standing around the hotel entrance. "In my heart I'm like, 'Aw man,' kinda bummed but again, I wanted to come here to check out the event and play some PS4 for the day before the next day when I'd really line up for my system."
But the people he saw on the street were not there to buy a PS4. "Then it turns out they were ladies who worked for the event and Sony!" he said, "I look over to the sign and there's nobody there ... sooooo ..." Chiu took his spot in line: No. 1.
Thing is, this is Wednesday afternoon. The PS4 launched at midnight November 15, which was a Friday. Chiu had classes to attend on Thursday, and didn't bring a partner to hold his spot in the queue. "It was that evening when I was heading home that I was fully prepared to surrender my spot in line," he said, "because I couldn't do the thing where we line up outside on the sidewalk when we're in November and things are approaching winter temperatures."
No problem. Sony said they'd save his space in line. "Sony was unbelievably gracious in letting me head home for the night and keeping my spot in line. I am eternally grateful for this.," Chiu said.
The campout was no hardship tour, for Chiu or anyone else. First of all, it was catered. I mean where else but New York will someone give you free food for sitting on a sidewalk. Others in the line behind Chiu were from out of town, and Sony put them up at the hotel. "How awesome is that?" Chiu said.
Chiu returned on Thursday after classes, went to the head of the line, and that night was summoned to visit with Andrew House (above left), the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, and Jack Tretton (above right), the president for SCE-America. Chiu met House the morning before outside the hotel, and Tretton the year before at the PS Vita's launch in New York. They reconnected like old buds in the image we used for the 'Shop Contest, every one exhibiting maximum smug on the console's big day.
"I was extremely happy to be able to tell them both personally that their walk-out music choices for this E3 were absolutely kickass," said Chiu, a lifelong gamer whose favourite titles on PlayStation come from the Metal Gear series.
"Ps4 was always my go-to choice from the moment they threw down with the Xbox One on E3," Chiu said, "not that Xbox hasn't made a compelling argument for themselves since that showing."
But last Friday, it was all about PlayStation. Andrew. Jack. Joey. A minute before midnight. The signed box House that handed Chiu? "That came from me asking the folks at Sony at the counter very politely if they could get Jack and Andrew to sign the box for me," Chiu said., "I handed over the ceremonial silver Sharpie marker; I've become something of a video game autograph collector.
"I wanted the big first PS4 to not just look like any other model you'd see on store shelves," he said.