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Is Halo 3 Really Off to Record Start?

In today's WinInfo, I'm surprised that no one else has asked this question:

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that its latest blockbuster video game, Halo 3, is off to a torrid start, earning an estimated $170 million in sales in its first 24 hours. That figure beats the previous one-day video game sales record, $125 million, which was set by Halo 2 in 2004. It's also significantly higher than the one-day tally of any entertainment product in history, including movies, DVDs, and other electronics products. (This year's best-selling movie, "Spider-Man 3," generated $59 million in its first day, by comparison.)

Long story short, Halo 3 is a huge success. Or is it?

The question, of course, is whether Halo 3 is really setting any meaningful records. Video game titles were less expensive in 2004 than they are today, and Halo 3 is available in three different versions that cost $60, $70, and $130 each, respectively. So it's likely that many first day buyers--the rabid Halo fans who have waited years for this release--ponied up for the more expensive versions. So it's not unreasonable to believe that Microsoft actually sold fewer copies of Halo 3 this year than they did with Halo 2 three years ago. (As for Spider-Man 3, that movie will generate far more profits and revenues in the long run than any video game could ever hope for.)

Microsoft has sold only 11 million Xbox 360 consoles in two years, and Halo 3 is expected to generate just an additional 100,000 to 200,000 console sales in the next 30 days. For Halo 3 to outsell its processor, Microsoft will have to sell nearly one copy of the game to each person that already owns an Xbox 360.

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