I had pre-ordered Diablo III Collector's Edition several months ago when Amazon listed it the first time. However, I went to a store to grab a second copy for a giveaway I haven't announced.
In attempting to do that, I experienced what many of our visitors likely experienced when going in person to their favorite store. I'd like everyone to share their story whether good or bad experience. This was my story:
Around noon, I called Best Buy (Grand Square) to see if they had a Diablo III midnight launch. This is where I went in 2008 for the Wrath of the Lich King midnight launch where Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce signed copies, and I could interview them one-on-one.
I was surprised to hear there were none at their store. In all New York City, the only Best Buy with a Diablo III midnight launch was the Union Square Best Buy -- located in 14th Street and Broadway.
That was the same place the StarCraft II midnight launch happened at. I called them and I was on hold for a full hour before someone answered. I asked if there would be collector's edition copies and she said yes. That I needed to wait in line until midnight. I asked if I could take video for the website. She said I could.
I arrived around 10:30pm EST to the store. There were around 25-35 people when I got there. I was concerned that Best Buy started the sale of Diablo III at 11:20pm instead of at 12:00am. Seems they wanted to go home early. A manager started to divide people in two separate lines. He wasn't talking loud, and nobody in the back could hear him. After a while, they said they wanted the Collector's Edition people on the second line. Some of us moved to that line. Shortly after, he changed the story. Now he wanted pre-ordered copies on the right line, and non-pre-order customers on the left line.
With that setup, I was now around 8th in line for non-preordered copies. No chance for me to not get a copy right? As I approach, I ask for a Collector's Edition. He says there are no Collector's Edition copies for people who did not pre-order. I counted 28 copies in a crystal display for people who pre-ordered. Probably 12 more than that if I missed a line in the back of the display.
I look him square in the eye, and asked why he didn't tell everyone -- I don't know -- an hour and a half earlier when people were line up sitting on the floor? Or even 15 minutes ago when they asked people to line up for non-pre-order customers.
Cherry on top. I was told on the phone I could take video for the website. As soon as three employees saw the flash of the camera they jumped on me to say I couldn't take video or photos unless I had press clearance from the manager. Of course, at that time of the evening the store manager wasn't present. I told them I called by phone, and I got authorization -- to no avail.
There is something truly wrong at different levels at that Union Square Best Buy store. Lack of communication between what you are told by phone and what you are told at the store. Lack of communication with the people that are waiting in line physically at the store. Why are Collector's Edition only available to pre-orders customers? Seems you can no longer visit your favorite stores, socialize with other fans in the line while you wait till midnight, make great friends, and boost up your loyalty to the store nor going out the door a happy customer.
There were other people with me who went for a Collector's Edition and left disappointed. One of them, I walked him to the nearby Gamestop store which had far more people than Best Buy. We didn't have to waste time in line. A Gamestop employee quickly attended us in line and asked what we were there for. He quickly told us there were no Collector's Edition copies available. At least, we didn't waste an hour and a half in there, and left with a free poster of Max Paine 3.
Still -- no Collector's Edition. Arriving home, I asked Eldorian if he was lucky in his visit to the store in Kansas. He was unable to get a Collector's Edition, either.
Should Blizzard regulate the amount of Collector's Edition copies to certain stores? Or make them available only to Gamestop in USA so that all stores have supplies?
When we have to buy a Collector's Edition on a third market at ridiculous high prices on the eve of a midnight launch, something is definitely wrong. One might wonder if certain stores truly sell all their copies to customers on the floor, or ... if those Diablo III Collector's Edition copies selling for $175-550 right now on eBay are foul play. I arrived home sharp on midnight, and it is virtually impossible for ANY player to have an eBay listing that fast. Take your own conclusions.
I'd really like to see Collector's Edition sales handled only and exclusively by Blizzard Entertainment's Blizzard Store, and handled by their most confident partners. It has worked well with BlizzCon tickets. It should work fine with Collector's Editions.
For now, unless Blizzard notices foul practices on certain store retailers and takes action -- the only safe bet of acquiring a Diablo III Collector's Edition or future Blizzard games collector's editions is to assault Amazon and other online stores whenever they start pre-orders; or pre-ordering as soon as you can at your local store so you are one of the favored.
So what was your story? Did you leave the store a happy customer, or did you get a slap on the face? Tell us.
These are the few photos I was able to take before getting halted by the staff.