Halo 3 flew off the shelves last week, to the tune of a mind blowing $170 million in sales in the first 24 hours alone, better than the openings of Spider-man 3 ($151 million opening day) or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours). It may be unfair to compare a movie's opening to that of a video game because preorders figure heavily into a video game, but the book comparison is more apples-to-apples. The cheapest of the three editions of Halo 3 retails for a little less than twice the cost of Potter, but with the discounts offered for new release books at most stores, consumers were paying more than twice as much. These numbers weren't completely unexpected: Microsoft was expecting to best SM3 (sounding a lot like the cast of Entourage regarding Aquaman) with $155 million in opening day sales, which would have been an improvement over Halo 2's $125 million in opening day sales.
I preordered my copy way back in March, the ridiculously opulent $129.99 Legendary Edition with a full size Master Chief helmet and two bonus discs, and it finally arrived Friday. I've been playing it no quite around the clock since, but I did stop watching football yesterday during the 4:00 games to play. The gameplay is incredibly diverse, featuring locales such as swamplands, mountains, metallic towers, organic tunnels, and of course space stations. A staple of the Halo franchise has been the inventive vehicles, and this iteration is no exception. Several battles put the AT-AT battles from the beginning of Empire Strikes Back to shame.
It hasn't been all candy and nuts for the Halo 3 launch. An enormous number of the middle-priced Limited Edition were plagued with faulty boxes and scratched discs. Also, some 99.9% complete beta copies were leaked, resulting in some XBox Live accounts to be banned until 9999 (not a typo). Still, it's a historically successful release and leaves little doubt that video games are a mainstream form of entertainment.