Days of waiting paid off for Sergio Rodriguez, one of the relatively few able to buy Sony's PlayStation 3 when the coveted console went on sale early Friday.
He was among the die-hard gamers and entrepreneurs across the country who braved foul weather and heckling by passers-by all week for the chance to shell out $500 or more for the sleek game machine. With shortages resulting from production problems, many had camped out for days without knowing if they'd be going home empty-handed.
At a midnight launch event at a Circuit City in New York, Rodriguez was the first to walk away with the PS3 as people still standing in line outside the store cheered. He had been waiting outside since Sunday.
"This is the best game ever. It's so worth the wait," the 25-year-old graphics designer said. "Some people may call me crazy, but I really love to play."
With Sony promising only 400,000 systems for the nationwide launch, the chance of disappointment was high. While retailers tried to keep expectations low, lines snaked around the block at many stores - even those that weren't going to begin sales until later Friday.
Saby Madrigal, an 18-year-old college student who worked for a month at a liquor store to save for a PS3, waited in line outside the Circuit City for 24 hours without success. Still, she vowed to keep looking.
"For the work we had to do to get all the money to get the stupid system, I'm going to search every single store in town," she said. "I don't care, I'm going to get it."
Some who saw long lines at the midnight launches simply went to another location, with later openings and smaller crowds. Nonetheless, about 50 people were in front of Ahmad Mustafa, 24, outside a New York Best Buy with only 34 units available...