Photo courtesy of viewer Alison Powers
Eager video game players lined up at stores across the country awaiting the arrival of Microsoft's Xbox One, a week to the day after rival Sony introduced its PlayStation 4.
The console, available for sale tonight at 12:01 a.m. ET, is Microsoft's first video game console since launching the Xbox 360 in 2005.
The device features an upgraded Kinect sensor, which allows users to control the Xbox by using their voice. Users can also plug the console directly into their cable or satellite set-top box to take control of their televisions.
Consumers across the country lined up to snag an Xbox One, available in limited quantities at retailers including Best Buy and Target. Like the PS4, the Xbox One is expected to be in short supply. The consoles are unavailable to purchase on the websites of Amazon, Best Buy and Target.
Microsoft is hosting an event at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square to kick off the console's launch and allow consumers to bring home the console.
"We're really gratified and humbled about the amazing interest there has been," says Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft senior vice president of interactive entertainment. "We've done everything we could to build as many units as possible. That said, there is a decent chance in the early weeks that we may be sold out in spite of the number we have built, which is the largest we have ever built."
At a Best Buy in Brentwood, Tenn., about three dozen people had already lined up by 7:45 p.m. ET on Thursday for the latest Xbox. Four people showed up before 10 a.m. to begin waiting. Some paid friends to secure early spots.
Ryan Brazzell, 23, of Brentwood, was one of them. He paid a friend $40 to wait in line starting at 10 a.m. He showed up at 5 p.m. to for the chance to buy the latest model.
He does not plan on playing games right away at midnight, but says securing one early was still important.
"I am excited to have this one," he said. "It is a new thing. It is family oriented."
Brian West, 36, of Nashville, Tenn., also secured a prime spot in the line. He first showed up during his lunch break.
"The main thing that sold me was to be able to play a game and watch TV on the same screen," West said. "I am tired of switching."
Will Solari, 17, of Lincoln, Calif., camped out at a Best Buy in Roseville starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday night to be the first in line to secure the next Xbox.
Solari, who already owns an Xbox 360, brought sleeping bags, energy drinks and board games to endure the long wait. "I have wanted to get the Xbox one ever since it came out," he says. "It is truly an amazing piece of innovation I cannot wait to play and use."
Nathan Yuska said he's trying to avoid frostbite. The 19-year-old has braved the wind and snow since 3 p.m. Thursday outside of a Best Buy in West Des Moines, Iowa. He and his friends came prepared to survive until the midnight launch of Xbox One. They brought coats, hats and gloves; plus blankets and hand warmers.
"It's been brutal," Yuska said, shivering. "I love Xbox. Gotta get the next console."
Kenny Irwin, an eccentric artist in Palm Springs Calif., has a different purpose for his Xbox One - death by microwave.
For years, Irwin has been nuking the latest smart phones, tablets and gadgets, then posting videos of their slow deaths to YouTube and his website,microwaveshow.com. Sometimes he shapes their gooey carcasses into statues, then adds eyeballs, and sells them online.
Last week, he microwaved a PS4. An Xbox One dies on Friday. "I'm buying it over at Best Buy tomorrow," Irwin said Thursday. "I've already bought it and paid for it."
Irwin said he will likely buy a second Xbox One to keep at home. "I love video games, actually," he said.
Gerald Buckner II, 38, of West Bloomfield, Mich., got in line at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with his son, Gerald Buckner III, to await the launch.
On a cold, rainy night in metro Detroit, the pair chose a Meijer store in Commerce Township, because it's open 24 hours and they could wait inside, sitting on camp chairs in the electronics department.
"I had the PlayStation because of the free online gaming," the older Buckner said. "But now that you have to pay for both of them, I'm going back to the Xbox."
Buckner enjoys race car games on the Xbox, while his son prefers games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.
"I am more of an Xbox person because the controllers are more durable," the younger Buckner said. "I like the setup of the Xbox better."
In Salem, Ore., cousins Hunter and Brendon Winnen held down the first spot in line Thursday night at Best Buy, where about 20 people huddled in biting cold weather.
Hunter, 15 and Brendon, 13, were taking over for their dads, brothers Mike and Steve Winnen, who had claimed the spot at 9:30 a.m.
"They're huge fans," Hunter said of the adults. "Bigger than us."
Contributing: John Wisely, Detroit Free Press; Duane W. Gang, The Tennessean; Brett Kelman, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun; Jens Manuel Krogstad, The Des Moines Register; Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.
Brett Molina, USA TODAY