So, How Do You Ferret Out an Xbox?

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NEW YORK ( -- Getting your hands on an Xbox 360 is a labor of love. In an era that prides itself on instant gratification,, and offer none; they won't even take back-orders at this point. It's not like you can walk into the brick-and-mortar stores and pick up a gaming console at just any old time, either. No, acquiring the much-hyped high-definition Xbox 360 by Microsoft recalls Soviet-style breadlines and black markets more than the instant access befitting the latest technology in entertainment systems.

Kevin Lin of Santa Monica, Calif., went to his local Best Buy every lunch hour for several weeks until he got his hands on a console. Matt Croft from Warren, Mass., searched for six weeks before buying a system from an eBay seller -- for $100 above retail. Meanwhile, chat rooms have been keeping close tabs on where the most recent shipments arrive only to be followed hours later by another post announcing that the shipment is already gone.

The black-market mentality brought on by the shortage has enterprising gamers finding consoles buying in bulk, then flipping them on eBay or Craigslist. However, Joseph Dixon of Oklahoma City claims that after taxes and the eBay and PayPal fees, his profit is only about $40 per unit.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, some would-be buyers have been turned off by the hype and lack of availability, not to mention the relatively few games made for the system. Says New York game enthusiast Jared Bartok: "They don't have any killer apps that would make me wait to buy the system just to play the game. I have been waiting for the PS3 instead." With the launch of the newest PlayStation being put off until the fall, however, Mr. Bartok said he might reconsider getting on a waiting list for the Xbox 360.

Mr. Croft, who recently resold his system at a loss, saying it didn't live up to the hype, agrees. "A great system is simply an expensive paperweight without good games." His money went to a small laptop that is already seeing a lot more action than his Xbox 360 ever did.
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