‘Halo’ sequel heaven sent

Videogame continues with massive sales

“Halo 3” is continuing to rack up huge sales, as Microsoft revealed that the third installment in its uber-popular sci-fi action franchise grossed more than $300 million worldwide in its first week.

It’s the first global figure for the vidgame, which Microsoft previously said grossed $170 million domestically on its first day, primarily from pre-orders.

Based on initial sales estimates by Microsoft insiders, it appears likely “Halo 3” has now sold some 5 million units worldwide in its first week.

That’s a boffo figure for any game, though likely not far beyond Microsoft’s expectations given the massive amount of coin it spent developing and marketing the hugely hyped sequel.

Though it remains to be seen whether “Halo 3” will ascend to the ranks of the bestselling console vidgames of recent times, a list currently topped by “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” at more than 13 million units, Microsoft claims that “Halo 3” is already the fastest-selling vidgame ever.

Reports from Japan even indicate that “Halo 3” is selling moderately well there, with a narrow hold on the No. 1 spot last week. Given how poorly Microsoft’s vidgame division has done in Japan, that has to be considered an accomplishment.

Perhaps most importantly to the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant, however, it appears that “Halo 3” is helping to drive sales of its Xbox 360, the only console on which it plays.

Microsoft said initial reports from worldwide retailers show sales of the console have tripled compared with the previous weekly average. If that momentum holds up, Microsoft should be able to extend its lead over Sony’s PlayStation 3 for avid gamers’ allegiance and make some progress against the bestselling Nintendo Wii for the broader market.