Post-coronavirus, it’s not game over for video game launch parties

It might be hard to imagine now, but there was a time when midnight video game launch parties were commonplace. In a time before social distancing, face masks and the word “corona” – aside from its association with a brand of alcohol – it seemed like every store that sold video games had some kind of exit event for impatient fans waiting for a new game to arrive.

Of course, in recent years, this idea (beside the majority of live events, on the whole, except for a few motorcycle centric exceptions) took a step back as people tried to contain the pandemic by staying home and avoiding large crowds.

Unfortunately, the traditional parties, in whatever capacity, demand these two avoiding elements, so many stores have started formwork these events once enjoyed for the sake of public safety.

As 2022 marked the third year of the pandemic, people began to feel gradually more comfortable with the idea of ​​attending large social gatherings again. In turn, many stores have started to return to their pre-pandemic tradition of hosting these game launch parties.

Foremost among these were events held in commemoration of games launched by industry giant Nintendo at its flagship store, Nintendo NY, located in New York’s Rockefeller Center.

Nintendo NY midnight release events have had notable moments in the past, such as when former Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aimé welcomed fans are lining up at the store in preparation for the launch of the Wii U. But much like its game-selling contest, Nintendo only recently started hosting these events again as restrictions eased.

The first one of those parties was for the launch of “Splatoon 3” in September. More recently, however, swarms fans have been eagerly waiting to hear about the company’s plans for its holiday titles, “Pokémon: Scarlet” and “Pokémon: Violet,” regarding news of a potential midnight launch party.

This news finally came in the form of a Tweeter published on November 9, which indicated that the party would be open to those who responded, which would be available the following week.

Like many Pokemon fans, I was excited. I wanted to attend a local GameStop midnight launch for 2020’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” but as I’m sure you can see for this launch year alone, those plans fell through. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be surrounded by a large group of like-minded people, all excited to play new entries in the beloved franchise, celebrating its arrival in its own company store.

At least, that’s how I think it would have been, had I been able to attend the event.

Don’t get me wrong, I had every intention in the world of going. But by the time I got to Nintendo’s RSVP page, the three-hour party (in an attempt to keep the store quiet, three one-hour time slots had been allocated between midnight and 2 a.m. morning) had filled up, leading to me jokingly asking on Twitter if anyone was interested in selling me their place in the queue – I actually got a few fair offers.

In the end, I ended up attending a launch party hosted by a GameStop not far from Nintendo NY. While I’m sure the celebration at the flagship store would have been more intense, the GameStop party wasn’t without its own festivities, like a store-wide Pokemon quiz and tournament for the Pokemon spin-off battling game. “Pokkén Tournament”, for which the prize was a $50 gift card for the store.

It may have sounded like a watered down version of what other fans were experiencing less than a mile away, but for what it was, I had a great time in the company of other fans. We were happy to welcome back the tradition of gathering to ring in the new arrival of a highly anticipated game.