Late night video-game launches cost too much

There is no fine line between exploitation and scintillation when people are getting shot.

There is no fine line between exploitation and scintillation when people are getting shot.

The news that two would-be robbers shot a man waiting on line at 3am to secure a PS3 has taken the cultural event to a nadir, where an obsession with being the first to own the gaming console turned into a combat sport.

While responsibility for human behavior does not fall to Sony Computer, video game manufacturers need to reconsider how they market and make available their lusted-after wares.

Packed, overnight queues at retail locations are a PR pro's Shangri-La, providing the dual benefit of ubiquitous media coverage and media coverage that shows the ubiquitousness of demand. But the end-game is an overall negative to the company's brand, especially considering that many of those line jockeys are profiteers, waiting to resell the product through eBay.

Sony and others need to take the long-term view that these early-morning photo ops are doing more damage than good. Now that predators are lurking, the midnight release should die before someone actually does.

But how can they release a new product? They should take a page from their brothers-in-entertainment, the concert ticket industry, which is moving toward giving first-dibs opportunities to people who join fan clubs and otherwise show a prevailing interest in a particular band. It won't entirely eliminate resales, but it will cur-tail the practice.

Surely the video game crowd can figure out a way to harness the Internet, technology, and distribution to ensure both retailers and end-users get what they want.

Much like high-top shoes in the '90s, expensive and limited wares will always inspire criminal activity. Just because Sony is not responsible for this doesn't mean it doesn't have to be responsive.

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