‘Halo 3’ nabs $170 million on first day

Estimates place sales at over 2.5 million units

Videogames don’t exactly have opening weekends, but if they did, “Halo 3” just crushed them all.

Sci-fi action sequel bowed to a boffo $170 million in the U.S. on Tuesday, its first day on sale. Microsoft, the game’s publisher, didn’t release the number of “Halo 3” units it sold. Based on the game’s price and company sources, however, it’s believed to be over 2.5 million.

Microsoft boasted that the figure makes “Halo 3” “the biggest entertainment launch in history.” Comparisons to other media are tough, of course, since a copy of “Halo 3” typically costs $60 and is meant to be enjoyed for months or even years, while the average movie ticket cost $6.55 last year, but was good for about two hours of entertainment.

There’s no denying, however, that even compared to the opening weekends this year’s other big threequels like “Spider-Man 3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Halo 3” generated a massive amount of consumer spending.

It also handily beat 2004’s “Halo 2,” which made $125 million in its first day on sale. Even accounting for the price increase for the standard copy of the game from $50 to $60, it appears that “Halo 3” outsold its predescessor. That’s particularly impressive given that Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the only console on which “Halo 3” plays, has been out for less than two years and sold 6.3 million units in the U.S. as of August 31.

Though more gamers undoubtedly bought a 360 along with “Halo 3,” that’s still substantially lower than the approximately 10 million unit install base of the original Xbox when “Halo 2” came out in 2004.

“Halo 2” eventually sold over 9.2 million units worldwide. Based on its initial sales, “Halo 3” has a good shot at beating that figure and ending up amongst the top console games of the modern era, alongside titles like “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” which sold 13 million copies globally.

“The initial demand we’ve seen for ‘Halo 3’ has been astounding, and the game is on track to become the number one gaming title of all time,” Jill Hamburger, VP of movies and games at Best Buy, said in a statement released by Microsoft.

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