Gearing up at Midnight
At the front of the queue were two fans that had been there for 33 hours, patiently waiting to grab their copies of Gears 3 and then get home. These two gamers are the reason for Midnight Launches, the hardcore fans! John, the first in line, was well rewarded for his loyalty to the Gears series as he received the Console armour whilst he queued.
There was another attraction that had drawn the crowds to GAME in Oxford Street, Carlos Ferro, or Dom Santiago as he is known to the Gears Community. He had shunned the glitz of the American launch parties to come to London and pay his respects to the diligent fans that have made Gears of War a massive success!
Carlos went out and spoke to the fans in the street before the doors had opened and was always approachable.
At 11:30 the first group of fans were brought into the store and stood around a TV. Footage from Gears started to roll before being replaced by Cliff Blezinski, the man behind Gears of War. The message was short but sweet. He thanked the fans for coming out to the launch, apologised for not being there as he was in New York and hoped they enjoyed the game.
With that it was back to some action packed Gears footage before the Microsoft circle spun, bringing an end to the message of thanks from the Gears creator. The group applauded the message, truly grateful that Cliff had taken time out to show his appreciation for the fans.
They moved to the front of the store where their copies of Gears of War 3 waited for them, still sealed and unplayed. The queue inside the store grew even longer as more people were let into the warmth and closer to the game they have been so patiently waiting for. With John and his friends at the tills and the excitement building, Carlos Ferro stood on the tills.
He shouted "SUP B*TCHES", much to the crowd’s delight. An almost 300 strong group returned the compliment, shouting his characters most quoted line. Carlos thanked the gamers for turning up stating that he could have been in America celebrating the launch with friends, but instead he felt he needed to be here, in London!
He went on to say that John, would not only be walking out with the goodie bag that he had received at the till and the Gears Xbox Armour, but he would also be walking out with a 40" LCD TV for being the first in the queue. The crowd applauded and John looked ecstatic with his unexpected treat.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! The crowd roared and the staff sprung into action grabbing preordered Standard, Limited and EPIC editions, Gears Consoles, strategy guides and the new Gears of War 3 control pads. With games in hand the first owners of Gears of War 3 walked to the front of the store where Carlos was waiting with his pen to sign one of this year’s biggest releases.
Throughout the night pizza and energy drinks were provided to the cold and hungry Gears of War fans that would not leave until they had their copy. With John being the first recipient of a new TV, Carlos drew 4 more raffle tickets, so some more lucky Gears fans could go home with a shiny new TV to enjoy Gears 3 on.
The queue flowed well throughout the night and didn't seem to be shrinking in size. For most of the night the lines for Gears of War 3 stretched right around the corner of Oxford Street. It wasn't until 2:30am that the queue finally started to end, 2 1/2hrs after the game was officially launched.
To Carlos' credit his enthusiasm never waned throughout the 4 hour event, he was being questioned by the press, fans, signing autographs and doing TV spots. But whenever he went out for some air, he never stood alone, he would walk up and down the queue talking to fans shouting "SUP B*TCHES" and even bowing to one fan’s request to scream "MARIAAAA" as he did in Gears of War 2! To be honest, he never looked more comfortable than when he was talking to the fans!
Then it was over. The last customer had been served and the shop was empty save for a few press members and Carlos still signing copies of the game. As I said goodbye to Carlos and the guys at Oxford Street, I thought about all the launches I had been to previously. To my mind none had drawn a bigger crowd, with the staying power that these guys had, especially when you consider that Gears of War is only on Xbox 360.
Written by Tom Daly