Reports from Microsoft's "Zero Hour" promotional event have begun to emerge from the desert hangar where the company has invited thousands of gamers to celebrate the launch of its next-generation Xbox 360 console. Both consumer site GameSpot and Next Generation Online have posted dispatches from the event, which tell somewhat different stories.
GameSpot's Tim Surette is more interested in the trappings of the event, detailing things like the dÃ©cor of the hangar, the dress of visiting executives J Allard and Peter Moore, and the behavior of the crowd in the hours leading up to the hangar's opening, such as a beanbag fight with the provided chairs in the absence of anything else to do. Surette mentions that Best Buy was on hand to set up a mini-shop within the Zero Hour hangar devoted to Xbox 360 games, systems, and accessories. "Everyone here who wants a 360 will be able to leave with a 360," said a Best Buy representative.
Next Generation's Spencer Yip, on the other hand, was more concerned with the behavior and opinions of the crowd after the event had already begun. Yip canvassed attendees for their opinions of the best and worst of the show, and found that in general the showgoers -- all of whom had to win the chance to attend through contests hosted by various websites -- were somewhat unimpressed with the launch lineup, but gravitated toward kiosks and presentations displaying some of the system's future games.
In particular, Epic's Gears of War and Q? Entertainment's Ninety Nine Nights drew large, appreciative crowds who mainly left the Kameo: Elements of Power kiosks unplayed. The "Zero Hour" event will continue through Tuesday, while the rest of American gamers will get their chance to play the launch lineup when the system goes on sale at midnight at many large electronics retailers.