Two nights ago, the Toronto Life Square Future Shop held their midnight launch event for Nintendo’s latest desirable object, the Nintendo DSi. Those who don’t keep obsessive tabs on the product cycles of videogaming platforms (and why wouldn’t you?) might be confused at this point. Hasn’t the Nintendo DS been out for like five years?
Yes and no. The original unit, released in 2004, was gray and bulky, with the ergonomics and aesthetic appeal of a graphing calculator. Then, in 2006, there was the redesigned DS Lite, which was a more compact, arguably more attractive item with brighter screens and an unfortunate propensity for cracking apart at its seams under normal use.
The DSi, which yesterday became available for sale everywhere in Canada and the States, adds some new features, most notably a pair of cell phone–quality cameras (one on the outer shell of the unit and one on the inner hinge), but for all intents and purposes this is a third coming. Another messianic figure we’ve just learned of has only had one of those so far, and his market share seems to be holding. How are the hardest-core among Toronto’s Nintendo fans bearing up under the mega-corp’s mercurial planned obsolescence schedule? Torontoist decided to find out.
Events like these are known for drawing huge crowds of excited fans. The Grand Theft Auto 4 launch we covered last year, for example, had hundreds of attendees. The DSi launch lineup, meanwhile, took a little time to locate.
In the lobby of Toronto Life Square we were greeted by a trio of girls, each holding a Nintendo DSi. One of them—who became the hand model for our picture of the unit, above—explained the crowd’s absence: “Oh yeah,” she said. “If you’re looking for the lineup, the other entrance to Future Shop is north on Yonge Street. There are only like ten people out there.”
That turned out to be only half true. Yes, about ten people were waiting for the DSi, but there were also at least five promoters, dressed entirely in black nylon clothing upon which Nintendo logos had been embroidered wherever they’d fit. The promoters were interacting with the crowd man-to-man, in a highly coordinated, professionally extroverted, swarm-like manner. They were plying each of the ten Nintendo stalwarts with demo DSi units to play with, as well as other small giveaways. They were everywhere. There was no crowd to blend in with, no avoiding their offers of raffle tickets and other sundries (we took a keychain under duress). Torontoist’s attempts to discreetly interview a group of people at the back of the line were completely thwarted.
It would be all too easy to write off the Toronto Life Square Future Shop’s Nintendo DSi midnight launch as a non-event, but it wasn’t quite. Those ten people were there, after all. So were all those friendly promoters, and so, for that matter, were several unopened crates of a product capable of generating at least a little bit of excitement. All things being equal, what does it matter that most of that excitement was on the part of the people involved in marketing the thing? We’ll buy one eventually, anyway—when our old one breaks.
Photos by Steve Kupferman/Torontoist.