Your TV Tech Fix: I Spy 5 Inaccuracies About CHUCK’s ‘Spy Attack’ Game Launch!

Monday’s Episode of NBC’s CHUCK had a little bit of everything: spies, prisoners, chick-on-chick brutality, chases through duct work, and… a video game launch?

While Chuck, Sarah, and Casey were getting a better look at Castle’s HVAC system, Morgan Grimes and (the just-rehired) Big Mike were dealing with their own electronics related issues. Customers were lining up in droves at the Buy More for the midnight launch of the highly anticipated (and highly fictitious) “Spy Attack” video game.

I tend to give CHUCK writers a break, at least for the most part.  As someone who (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) worked retail in an electronics chain and a video game store, I get a kick at CHUCK writers poking fun at the things I’ve had to deal with, like Black Friday, crazy customers, etc. Some of these events they’ve gotten to screen in a pretty realistic way. Yet others, like the game launch below, wasn’t really even close to real life. Like Chuck’s fake Windows laptop, this one needs to be called out.

So what wasn’t real about the Buy More’s “Spy Attack” launch?

Who stands in line, anyway?
“Listen Chuck. The biggest game of the year drops tonight, okay. These fanboys have been camped out for a week – a WEEK – without their consoles and simulated killing.”

Real gamers don’t camp out in front of a store for any title. They put in their pre-order months in advance. The only thing they’ll camp for are new consoles. Speaking of, even if these “fanboys” really were camped out in line for a week, no doubt they’d have plenty of simulated killing on their handhelds and cellphones.

Customer expectations
“They expect a full-blown, high-tech launch presentation.”

No they don’t. They expect to stand in line outside, then stand in line at the register, then go home to play. That’s it!

Lines don’t form inside
“Guys, we’ve got 40 minutes to game launch.”

I highly doubt the Buy More is open 24 hours, which means it would close around 9PM, then re-open at midnight for the launch. There’s no way they’re going to let droves of people stand inside the front of the store when they’re closed. Perhaps, just perhaps, a nice store manager would let them wait inside if the launch was in the middle of January, and the Buy More was located somewhere in Northern Minnesota. In Burbank, people wait outside.

Game launch inventory
“What do you mean we’re only getting 6 copies of Spy Attack? I’ve got 300 customers waiting for this game.”

I’ll give the Chuck writers a pass here. They needed drama at the Buy More, and this was the only way to do it. It is a TV show after all. In real life, however, game inventory is rarely a problem these days. I’m not saying inventory’s never been tight for a major title. I was around for the fiasco that was Final Fantasy VII.

Here’s how it works. Pre-orders are always filled first, and stock for those is pretty much guaranteed at minimum. If a major chain has 1000 pre-orders and only 1500 total copies, the extra 500 are divided among the number of stores, with larger volume stores getting the larger share. A shortage like the one depicted would never happen these days though. A chain like Buy More (a rip off of Best Buy) would get hundreds of copies a major title for every store. The only time you’d see inventory shortages are on lesser known titles that become unexpected hits.

Also, games show up days in advance and sit in the stock room in boxes until launch day. Inventory doesn’t magically show up 30 minutes prior.

Just about everything else!
“Guys! The games didn’t show. Now shut up, and let the poetry slam you.”

I’ve been to some big launches and seen some pretty neat things, (cool displays, people dressed up in costume, and even a live band) although never anything like this. However strange you think it may be to distract hundreds of pissed off customers by staging a genuine poetry slam, don’t think, not even for a second, that this would ever happen. If there truly were an inventory shortage, they’d never let everyone into the store. They’d hand out tickets for the copies they had to the first people in line, then send everyone else on their merry way.

Finally, had this been an actual in-store gamer revolt, I think an impromptu poetry slam would have been the real cause.

Satisfy your inner geek while fuelling your TV addiction… TV Tech Fix is a column by Matt Whitlock, editor of the Consumer Electronics Community (plus several other gadget-focused community websites), and lover of both technology and TV. In this column, he’ll cover a wide variety of tech topics aimed squarely at the TV addicts of the world – from tips and tricks to help you better your TV experience, to gear recommendations, to the impact technology is having on the TV shows we love.

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  • Donni

    It’s a tv show?…holy crap…get over it.