Gamers queue around the block for Xbox 360

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Thousands of would-be customers queued over night in the US as the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s new game console and the first of the next-generation games platforms, went on sale overnight.

In the US, there were lines around the block for several days and in all weathers outside big stores selling XBox. However, warnings have already appeared on the web that many gamers will be disappointed as availability is severely limited.

“Following common sense, you would expect the large stores such as Best Buy, Circuit City or Walmart to have hundreds of units, but the availability is so limited that most stores will only have a few dozen and in some cases even as little as 10 units available,” said Microsoftmonitor.net. After ringing round stores it also discovered that few expected to get another delivery before Christmas.

Then there were those who missed out. “What a critical mistake on my part,” wrote Kevin C. Tofel of HDbeat.com, who turned up to his local Wal-Mart at 3.26am to be in 14th place in the queue, and then decided to try his luck somewhere else. “I hit seven locations and drove for about two hours, but it was the same everywhere I went: more people than consoles everywhere.”

Desperation was, perhaps getting the better of some people. One blogger was interested to see that two Xbox 360s were stolen at gunpoint in Virginia overnight.

Microsoftmonitor did try to bring some calm to the situation, saying the chances of getting a unit were reasonably good if people queued at bigger stores such as Best Buy or Walmart, with some stores saying they were expecting a similar situation to the PS2 launch when there were some units left over.

Here are the site’s recommendations on how make sure you get your Xbox 360.

Some of those who queued up for hours didn’t just do it out of devotion to gaming. The author of Standing Cheese managed to get two “core” Xbox 360s instead of the premium models he wanted, but gleefully noted the prices of both types of system on eBay was far more than the retail price. “This is great news,” he wrote. “I’m keeping an eye on auction prices for the next few days and then I’m going to sell one to pay for a premium system (and a game or three) after the holidays when the demand dies down and I’m going to sell the other for pure capitalist pig profit.”

The 360, which will soon be up against Sony’s Playstation 3, will go on sale in the UK in early December.

Meanwhile, those lucky few who have already got their hands on 360 were already beginning to post on the web their views of the new console - which were, unsurprisingly, mixed.

Good, but not great,” said a reviewer on CNN.com, who said there was a lack of “must-have games” available for the new console, echoing complaints heard at the time of the first Xbox launch.

CNET gave the 360 a resounding 8.4 out of 10, although its readers rated slightly lower at 7.6.

“While it’s missing a couple of potentially important features at launch, the Xbox 360 delivers the power and performance of a high-end gaming PC, including impressive digital media and networking features,” the website’s reviewer concluded.

However, one reader Doctort said no comparison could be truely made until Sony’s PlayStation 3 came out next year and was disappointed that no provision had been amde for the latest video storage technologies HD-DVD and Blue-Ray.

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