Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi writes the Gaming Guru blog for WRAL.com and covers the gaming industry for several other publications.
The videogame record that Microsoft and Bungie Studios scored when Halo 2 generated $125 million in its first 24 hours back in November 2004 is about to be shattered – by Halo 3.
Videogame analysts are predicting Microsoft will sell $200 million worth of Halo 3 games featuring the genetically enhanced warrior Master Chief at today’s launch, which actually began at midnight at thousands of game stores and other locations.
The company already has over 1.5 million pre-orders for the Sept. 25 game. Michael Pachter, videogame analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, predicts Microsoft will sell 3 million copies of Halo 3 in the first 12 days.
Microsoft is making the most of its third and final game in the Halo franchise. The game maker just released the 20GB Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Console for $400. The Spartan green and gold console comes with a matching Xbox 360 wireless controller and exclusive Halo 3 Gamer Pics and Theme download via Xbox Live. It also comes with an Xbox 360 Headset and an Xbox 360 Play & Charge Kit. Microsoft is also selling separately the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 3 Wireless Controllers and Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 3 Wireless Headset.
Pachter believes the launch of Halo 3 will generate 400,000 additional console sales in September for Microsoft, although he did not dig into just how many of these sales will be for the new special edition console. Microsoft currently has a U.S. installed base of 6.3 million Xbox 360 consoles through the end of August, according to The NPD Group.
Microsoft is pulling out all stops for the launch of Halo 3, which is the largest game launch ever for the company. Pontiac is sponsoring the "First to Play/First to Own" promotion for Halo 3, which has already allowed 200 winners in New York City and 200 winners in San Francisco to play Halo 3 first on an IMAX screen. The competition also offered 1,000 free copies of the game one day before launch.
More than 10,000 retailers in the United States alone opened their doors at midnight on Sept. 25 to usher in the biggest day in entertainment history. Fans were invited to participate in a variety of activities at local retailers to countdown to Halo 3’s launch. Major regional events were held in select locations including New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles and Miami. Those who make the trek to be a part of the countdown could score free merchandise and get a chance to play Halo 3 with local celebrities in on-site Game with Fame sessions.
Best Buy is helping fuel the largest gaming day in console history by making Xbox LIVE Gold free for everyone during the first three days of Halo 3’s availability. From September 25 through September 27, everyone with an Xbox 360 and a broadband connection can be an Xbox LIVE Gold member and experience the full benefits of the Halo 3 online experience. In addition, 8,000 Microsoft Points will be given away during the free Xbox LIVE period to a total of 144 randomly selected people. Those first prize winners will then be entered for a chance to win one of two grand prizes, which include a Halo themed Pontiac G6 GXP Street Edition (ARV $28,000) and a Samsung home theater entertainment system (ARV $3,499.97). To enter the sweepstakes, consumers can register and then play Halo 3 over Xbox Live.
Gamers can register their Gamertag and then play “Halo 3” between September 28 and September 30 to enter the sweepstakes. Prizes will be randomly drawn and will include “Halo” accessory packs, Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Consoles, Halo 3 Edition Zunes, Microsoft Points, and the Halo Graphic Novel.
Other outlets are also jumping aboard the Halo 3 bandwagon. Cable channels like Spike TV and G4 are devoting entire shows to the Halo 3 launch.
The hit TV series, "Game Head," will take gamers behind-the-scenes of Halo 3. In addition, G4 will have over five hours of launch programming with cameras in Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, New York, Australia and Japan. Other programming on Sept. 25 includes a special Halo 3 episode of "Attack of the Show!" at 7 p.m. ET, followed immediately by the "Halo 3 Countdown" from 8 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. ET.