Gamers Roam Manhattan, Seeking Next Level

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Say what you want about this morning's rush of hush-hush Playstation 3 preorder sales — at least it got the gamers out of the house.

Here's how the whole event — itself reminiscent of a video game — went down: Around midnight, EB Games and Gamestop blasted their mailing lists with an announcement that down payments would be accepted on PS3 consoles, set to go on sale in November 17. And by first thing this morning, fans laid siege to the stores' Manhattan locations — to find the coveted product doled out in sadistically small doses.

One gamer, Adam Buckwold, began by hitting the EB Games' Rockefeller Center location. Dodging bleary-eyed NBC employees, he arrived at the shop's doors at 8:30 a.m. He was too late. The sixteen reservations — the number allotted to each store — had already sold out. "I thought I'd be one of the first," Buckwold said later. (The store normally opens at ten). "But there were people apparently camped out overnight. The manager said they opened the store around seven. They didn't want people waiting outside."

Buckwold began calling other locations, widening the search to include New Jersey, the PS3 eluding his grasp each time. Finally, score: an unfilled order form in Harlem, at a 125th Street store. With the paperwork filed, and 37 days to go until the PS3's store date, Buckwold's business instincts kicked in. He figured the initial demand for the gadget — which will retail for around $500 — will present some delightful profit opportunities. (When Xbox 360 went on sale in November 2005, retailing for $399, its eBay price reached $2,000 within days.) So Buckwold commenced the search for a second console, an investment property. He has not, thus far, been successful.

Amos Barshad