Earlier this week I caught the Mario Kart DS fever and decided to hunt down a copy of the game for sale early in the week. On Monday afternoon I made some phone calls to area stores that sell games and asked when they expected to have the game for sale on the shelf. The answer was the same at all the places I called: Tuesday morning. Fair enough. I would go on Tuesday afternoon and buy the game. Since I'm telling you this story here then you can guess that it didn't go smoothly, and once again the problem lies with the fallacy of accurate release dates.
My first stop was Best Buy. I always try to buy my games locally at Best Buy because I have one of those Reward Zone cards, and on this day I also happened to have a coupon. I went right to the Nintendo DS section, searched the shelf, and found no trace of Mario Kart. I ran into this problem last month when I was searching for Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, so as I did then I went to one of the store employees and asked where I could find the game on the shelf. A check of the computer indicated that the game's street date was that day, Tuesday, so it must be around here somewhere. The employee searched the storeroom for me and said that while the game had arrived on Monday, it hadn't been processed and priced yet, so they couldn't sell me one. I left empty handed after being told to try back on Wednesday.
Across the street at GameStop I ran into a similar situation. This time when a search of the shelf came up empty (I didn't even see any new games for sale on the shelves, only used games) I asked the employee at the counter if the new Mario Kart had arrived yet. He asked for my preorder receipt, and when I said this was not a preorder and I just wanted to buy a copy off of the shelf, he told me they don't have any copies to sell off the shelf because they didn't order any. That's right, they only ordered enough copies of the game to fill the preorders. Looking around the store again at all of the used games I asked if the store ever carries any new games right off the shelf. The answer? "Sometimes."
Onward to Target. Imagine my surprise when I found Mario Kart DS locked away in the game cabinet. I tracked down an employee, asked to buy a copy, and while I was paying for the game I mentioned how much difficulty I'd had finding a place that would sell the game to me. The employee explained that they weren't actually supposed to start selling it until tomorrow because Wednesday was the street date. However, someone had accidentally sold one earlier in the day and they just decided to go ahead and put them all on the shelf. I paid the $35 and brought the game home, and it's been speedy racing ever since.
This is not the first time I've had trouble buying a game off the shelf on demand. I'm still puzzled why it seems to be so difficult sometimes. Why is there a delay in bringing a highly anticipated game to the store floor? Why not order enough copies to sell to people who just want in off the street without a preorder? Why hold a highly anticipated game an extra day before offering it for sale? I may never get the answers to these questions, but I just can't help buy ask. It is starting to become my gaming dream to walk into a store unannounced in search of a specific video game, see it on the shelf, and buy it right then and there. Experiences like this are pushing me towards just buying new games from Amazon.com and just waiting for them to ship it to me during the week of release. Going from store to store in search of a new game that they have but won't sell me has become old. If a store won't take my money today, then they won't get the chance tomorrow.