Seattle: Microsoft Corporation will begin selling Halo 3, the sequel to its top-selling Xbox video game, on September 25 in the US and the next day in Europe.
Halo 3, a shooting game that pits a biologically engineered soldier against an alien force bent on destroying the human race, will outsell the previous version, said Microsoft Game Studios Vice President Shane Kim in an interview. The game’s earlier versions sold 14.8 million copies combined.
Microsoft, whose Xbox 360 machine has trailed Nintendo Co.’s Wii in US sales over the past three months, has pledged to make its video-game unit profitable by next year. It’s banking on Halo 3 to help it reach that goal. The company will probably sell 8 million copies of the game in the first year, including 5 million to 6 million in the holiday season, estimates Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities.
“It’s going to sell a lot of units, and it will drive some Xbox 360 sales as well,” said Pachter, who is based in Los Angeles. Some customers are probably waiting for the game, which only works with the Xbox 360, before buying the machine, he said.
Microsoft wants to release the game in September to get it on the market before Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.’s next installment of Grand Theft Auto, which reaches stores on 16 October 2007, Pachter said. The series is the best-selling franchise for Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 2 console.
Grand Theft Auto IV will be available for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Take-Two will sell about 10 million units of Grand Theft Auto in the first year, with about half sold for Xbox and half for PlayStation 3, Pachter estimates.
Microsoft will begin testing a multiplayer version of Halo 3 today, when several hundred thousand users play the game through the Xbox Live online service. The company gave away access to the test through marketing promotions earlier this year, Kim said. Access can still be gained by purchasing another Microsoft game called Crackdown, he said.
Plot details of the single-player game will be closely guarded until it goes on sale, Kim said.
Halo 3 will cost $59 (Rs 2,400) for the standard edition. A collector’s version with added content will sell for $69, and an edition packaged in a replica of the helmet worn by Master Chief, the game’s main character, will cost $129.
“Halo 2 generated $125 million in sales during its first day of release on 9 November 2004. That gave it the biggest single-day gross receipts of any entertainment product, Microsoft said at the time. That record was broken within the year by the sixth Harry Potter book.