Kinect's New York launch misses expectations, but still a good party

I'm still reeling from all the free drinks and necessary-but-copiousTums popping I endured at Microsoft's Kinect launch afterparty, but I've sobered up enough tosay that last night's very well-orchestrated event was, in a word, successful. Microsoft probably would have preferredsomething like"insane" or "unbelievable,"butit wasn't quite there. Still, pretty damn cool.

Above: Unconfirmed reports put the line total at around 2,000 by the time the clock hit midnight

I got in line at around 3:00p.m. and started chatting up the crowd. There was a young couple in front of me, half of whichwas only there because her boyfriend convinced her to keep him company. The guys behind me were from New Jersey and were the quintessential twenty-something gamers - scraping by, but still able to justify buying expensive gadgetry on launch day. Other people in the vicinity included a Polish vacationer and his mom, an overworked nurse, and awoman who proclaimed herself to be aHispanic lesbian. Quite a diverse group of people, which is exactly what Microsoft is looking for with Kinect.

Above: Yes, The King himself made a cameo appearance at the launch event

After braving the New York City November weather for several hours, the swag rolled out. Lots of swag. Seriously. Here's what I ended up taking away:

- 10 Kinect t-shirts
- 2 Kinect ponchos
- 2 Kinect umbrellas
- 1 Kinect beanie cap
- 1 Kinect bag
- 5 premium Xbox Live Avatar codes
- 3 $7 Burger King gift cards

Microsoft actually made 9,000 t-shirts for the event, which is insane on the face of it. In its most optimistic estimates, it expected around 3,000 people to show up, and there weren't even that many.

Although this is one of the biggest spectacles Microsoft has ever put on to launch a new Xbox product, it's one of the few where it didn't sell out. Sure, we're talking about the biggest Toys R Us store in the world, which had thousands of units stocked,but Microsoft allocated 3,000 spots for this launch event, and it didn't fill that.

Above: Some are still available

At an after party in the nearby Hard Rock Cafe, Kinect master Kudo Tsunoda called the launch event the most awesome video game moment of his life.

Above: The after party showed off what Kinect is really all about - drunkenlyflailing around like an idiot

Theevent was full of energy, but it could have been... more fuller. Microsoft poured all of its hype-building mojo into Kinect's launch. Still, lots of t-shirts. (By the way, expect to start seeing a bunch of purple t-shirts with the phrase "I am the controller" and the date "11-4-10" popping up on Ebay pretty soon.)

Nov 4, 2010