Although Microsoft has sold several million copies of Xbox, the company has seen few successes with its first-generation video game system. Two major milestones stand out, however: the original game Halo, which has sold 5 million copies and is an unqualified hit, and Xbox Live, Microsoft's highly successful and innovative online gaming service, which attracts 1.5 million users (there are 18 million Xbox users overall). Tomorrow, Microsoft will combine these two successes in a software release that the company hopes will make the Xbox the must-have console for the holidays. Tomorrow, the company will release Halo 2, the long-awaited sequel to Microsoft's best-selling Xbox game title. And unlike its predecessor, Halo 2 is Xbox Live-compatible, which means that millions of eager users around the world will be able to compete online against millions of users.
Microsoft hasn't even released it yet, but Halo 2 is already off to a big start. The company notes that customers have preordered more than 1.5 million copies of the game, and more than 7000 US retailers are staying open until midnight tonight so that gamers can get early access to the title. "With more than 1.5 million copies already preordered, day-one sales of Halo 2 look to herald the biggest 24 hours in entertainment retail history," Peter Moore, corporate vice president of Xbox worldwide publishing and marketing, said. "By the end of this week, the world will be playing Halo 2--and with our Xbox Live online service, fans will literally be banding together across the globe to fend off Covenant invaders."
Microsoft is so sure of its success that Xbox representatives are bragging that Halo 2 will make more money in its first day of availability than any Hollywood blockbuster in movie history. The company says that the title will likely humble such famous movies as "Star Wars" and "The Lord of the Rings." Indeed, video game sales have almost always dwarfed sales of movie tickets. Last year, for example, the video game industry generated more than $10 billion in sales.
Halo 2 ships tomorrow in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, and various countries in Latin America. Belgium, France, and Switzerland will get Halo 2 on Wednesday, and the game will launch in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK on Thursday. Halo 2 will ultimately be available in 8 languages in 27 countries. Customers can choose between a standard Halo 2 package that will retail for $49.99 and a limited-edition 2-DVD set that will retail for $54.99. A PC version of Halo 2 is expected sometime next year.