A North Kansas City man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly deciding it would be faster to try to steal a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at gunpoint rather than wait in line to buy it for himself.
The incident was at least the third armed robbery committed by fans or entrepreneurs waiting a little too eagerly for the release of the game at midnight Tuesday.
In the first incident, two men ambushed a van delivering copies of the game, blocking its way on a Paris street while two masked men emerged waving knives and throwing tear gas to incapacitate the drivers, making off with the van's cargo of games. A second group of men hijacked a different van in a suburb north and west of Paris later that day.
The hijackers made off with more than 6,000 copies of the game, worth a reported $550,000 in all.
While dramatic and effective, the two hijackings lack the teen-angsty histrionics of 31-year-old Loromin Sar, who went ballistic Tuesday after being told the Best Buy from which he claimed to have pre-ordered the game had run out of copies.
Sar screamed at customer-service-desk workers and threatened to lie in wait and shoot them as they tried to leave work later.
Police, identified his car from descriptions from witnesses, pulled Sar over and arrested him before he reached home.
"Give me the game." "#%&@ you!"—Fight.
The Kansas City incident involved only one game and no weapons of mass destruction, but was notable for the distance one attacker tracked a randomly chosen victim.
According to police reports that allegedly include a confession from the robber, 18-year-old David Morales was frustrated by the long line of customers who had beat him to a Game Stop in North Kansas City neighborhood just after midnight Tuesday.
Rather than wait, Morales followed fellow customer Adam Freeman back to the parking lot, got in his red Ford Explorer and followed Freeman out of the lot, onto the street, onto a freeway, back off and West on secondary roads to Freeman's apartment building – nearly three miles from the GameStop, according to a story in the Kansas City Star that quoted from court documents with details of Morales' alleged confession and police reports.
As Freeman pulled into a parking spot, police charge, Morales blocked him in and got out of the SUV with a hood over his head and a semi-automatic pistol in his hand. As he approached Freeman, Morales "racked a round" into the chamber, according to Freeman's statement.
"Give me the game," the attacker allegedly shouted, jacking the slide on his gun to chamber a second round and ejecting the unfired first one onto the pavement.
"#$*@ you," Freeman allegedly replied, then grabbed the gun by the barrel and tried to wrestle it away from his assailant.
Both ended up on the ground and the gun didn't go off. The attacker quickly gave up the fight, climbed back into a red Ford Explorer and raced out of the parking lot.
Freeman called the police, who went to GameStop to investigate.
There they reported finding a red Ford explorer in the parking lot and a man matching the description of Freeman's assailant inside – waiting in line to buy his own copy of the game.
"Let me see your hands," one of the officers yelled, according to the report.
Everyone in the store put their hands up except Morales, who allegedly told police later he had "played dumb," but later admitted being the one who tried to rob Freeman..
Morales allegedly told police Freeman fighting back and almost taking away the gun left him so "freaked out" he took off without another thought for the game when he got free of his victim.
He did not explain why he went back to the same store to stand in line for the same game
Fight was 'intense', but victim prefers the game
Freeman called the fight "much more intense, much more scary" than the game, but that he hadn't intended to fight. He grabbed the gun "by instinct," but wouldn't recommend the move to others.
“If I had more time to think about it, I probably would have just given him the game,” he said. “It’s a wonderful game, but it’s not worth dying over.”
Had either of the two already had a copy of the game, neither would have been in a position for a needlessly life-threatening scuffle.
Similarly, had either of the two gangs of men involved in the Paris robberies already had more than 6,000 copies of the unreleased game, they wouldn't have had to hijack a work van to get them.
As many as 1.5 million people stood in line to buy CoD: Modern Warfare 3 in the early hours of Tuesday morning, scooping up 9.3 million copies by the end of the day, blowing away the record of 7 million first-day sales set in 2010 by Call of Duty: Black Ops, the last edition of CoD, according to VGChartz, which tracks video-game sales.
CoD:MW3 may sell as many as 13.5 million copies by the end of its first week, according to VGChartz.
About 87 million copies of other editions of Call of Duty are already in circulation.
Nation in danger from millions of teens not exposed yet to CoD:MW3
Assuming every CoD fan has a copy of each of the four major editions (to reach the most conservative possible estimate of maddening, irrational, violent-crime-inspiring unsatisfied demand for the game) puts the total population of Call of Duty fans at around 20 million.
If the CoD: Modern Warfare 3 does sell 13.5 million copies by week's end, that leaves 6.5 million fans tragically lacking their own copy of the game.
There's no telling how many of that 6.5 million will become criminally violent to satisfy their need for the game, or how intense the media-inspired fear of such a phenomenon might be.
The threat of violence from the lack of CoD:Modern Warfare 3 affects everyone – video-game fan or not – except those who are already home with their copies and may not be seen outside their game bunkers for days.
So far no charitable organization has volunteered to distribute free copies of the game to the disappointed and disenfranchised in order to prevent further violence.
One can only hope some courageous, civic-minded group of responsible citizens – or the government – steps forward soon to alleviate this looming potential threat.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.