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Microsoft blows away records with “Halo 3”

History

Heavy on hype and expectations, Microsoft Corp.’s “Halo 3” video game has managed to draw plenty of avid gamers, scoring a record $170 million worth of sales in its first 24 hours on the US market.

In a statement late Wednesday, Microsoft dubbed the “Halo 3” opening as “the biggest entertainment launch in history,” garnering more than opening-weekend releases for blockbuster movie franchises such as “Spiderman” and “Harry Potter.” The science fiction-based shooter title went on sale at midnight Tuesday. It is expected to be the best-selling video game title for the upcoming holiday season. The game is also expected to be a big driver of Xbox 360 sales, though Microsoft did not reveal how many consoles were sold with the game on its opening day. By the end of August, the Xbox 360 had a domestic installed base of about 6.3 million units, according to data from NPD Group. Chris Olivera, spokesman for video game retailer GameStop said that while the company could not share specific sales figures, many “Halo 3” buyers were also picking up game hardware.

“‘Halo’ fans were definitely out in force,” said Olivera on Wednesday after visiting a company store in New York City. “This is definitely going to be the biggest revenue-generating title in GameStop’s history.” There may be a backlash on some of the pre-game hype on Wall Street, however, as some analysts had predicted opening day sales that could top the $200 million mark. In its statement Wednesday, Microsoft said pre-orders for “Halo 3” topped the 1.7 million mark -- also a record for the game industry. The company also said more than a million members of its Xbox Live online service played the game during its first 20 hours on the market.

“Halo 3” will give Microsoft a strong lead over its arch-rival Sony Corp., which has so far seen slower-than-expected adoption of its PlayStation 3 console. But game titles set for launch in 2008 - including “Grand Theft Auto 4” from Take-Two Interactive are expected to boost demand for the PS3 console. Surging “Halo 3” sales may also benefit other game makers, as more sales of Xbox 360 could drive demand for titles such as “Guitar Hero” from Activision and “Madden NFL 2008” from Electronic Arts. (marketwatch.com)

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