Halo 3 (the final chapter in Microsoft’s epic video game trilogy) finally goes on sale around the world. By the end of the week, 37 countries will be playing one of the most anticipated video games of all time. Microsoft won’t divulge sales predictions (and won’t specify how many millions of dollars the company has spent developing and marketing it), but the pre-sales have already broken sales records for any previous video game.
When Halo 2 was released in 2004, it grossed $125 million during the first 24 hours of its release. Microsoft spokesman Ryan James said “We know we’re going to clear that.” More than 1.5 million copies of “Halo 3” have been sold before a single store opens its doors at midnight, making this the fasting pre-selling game in history, surpassing the previous record-setting pre-sales of “Halo 2.” Well beyond just a U.S. phenomenon, the launch of “Halo 3” is a worldwide celebration that is releasing in 37 countries and available in 17 languages. To date, over 14.8 million copies of the previous two games have been sold.
The Halo 3 hype machine has saturated the market for months. Celebrities have been spotlighted to proclaim their love of Halo, and the merchendising campaign is nothing short of any summer blockbuster. Master Chief’s image has been slapped on everything from Mountain Dew to novels, Special Edition Xbox 360s and even an action figure line.
Some dedicated gamers have been anticipating the game for over a year. Many purchased the game nearly a year ago when stores began taking pre-orders. At that time, it was unknown that there would be three versions available, and some gamers were coerced into upgrading their $59.99 “regular edition” sale to the $69.99 Limited Edition (which includes a collectable metal case). The $129.99 “Legendary Edition” is also available, which includes a Spartan helmet replica (the helmet worn by Master Chief), bonus discs, and special “Halo” fiction and art book.
Master Chief butters up the crowd
Many Best Buy, Circuit City, Game Crazy, Game Stop, Blockbuster and nearly 10,000 other video game retailers will be open at midnight to welcome the rabid fans waiting in line for their copy of Halo 3.
Halo 3 promises to tie up the loose ends at the conclusion of ‘Halo 2′, which left some fans confused (even angry). Brian Jarrard, an executive for Bungie Studios confirmed that the story line will be brought full-circle, which should satify the hordes of fans. “We’ve definately heard a lot of complaints about the cliffhanger ending in ‘Halo 2′” Jarrard said. “For us this is the third chapter. We are definately wrapping up the story arc. We talk about it as our ‘Return of the King.'”
Although Halo 3 is the end of the “story arc”, it doesn’t appear that the series will be fading anytime soon, Jerard added. A strategy game called “Halo Wars” is set for release in 2008. Last year, Microsoft reached a deal with Peter Jackson to help create two new video games; at least one of them in the ‘Halo’ universe.
In Halo 3, Master Chief returns to Earth to “Finish the Fight” for humanity’s survival, that continues from the second game. The alien armies of the Covenant are trying to take over Earth (in retaliation for the destruction of Halo at the end of the first game). Another alien threat (called the Flood) threatens the entire galaxy, and Master Chief must thwart all of the alien forces.