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Halo Reach brings in more than $200 million opening day -- huge but not a record breaker

September 16, 2010 |  8:13 am

HaloReach The video game business may be stuck in a sales slump, but players still love their favorite series.

Halo Reach, the fourth major entry in the hugely successful science-fiction action franchise, generated more than $200 million worth of sales in the U.S. and Europe on its launch day Tuesday, publisher Microsoft Corp. said.

The company didn't disclose how many units that represents, but given that the main version costs $60 and a premium version costs $150, it's likely between 2 million and 3 million.

That's a very big number for the video game business, in which most titles don't ever bring in that much money. But although Microsoft bragged that it's the "biggest entertainment launch of 2010" in the U.S. -- making an awkward comparison with the opening weekends of movies for which tickets cost an average of under $8 each -- it's not the biggest opening day ever for a video game.

That honor belongs to Activision Blizzard Inc.'s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which brought in $310 million just from the U.S., Canada and Britain on its first day on sales last November. However, that game was also available on both Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3 console, expanding its base of potential customers, while Halo Reach is an Xbox 360 exclusive.

When Halo 3, the previous installment in the series excluding two smaller spin-offs, debuted in September 2007, Microsoft announced that it had grossed $170 million in the U.S. alone on its first day. Because the company included European sales in its number for Reach, there's no way to accurately compare the two titles. In a statement, Phil Spencer, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, said Reach is "the biggest game Microsoft has ever released."

Reach is the last Halo game produced by the development studio that created the series, Bungie Studios, which is now working on an original property that it owns and will be released by Activision. Microsoft plans to continue producing Halo titles without Bungie in the future.

Its release comes as the industry has been struggling this year, with retail sales of video games in the U.S. down 8% through the end of August.

-- Ben Fritz


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Photo: Fans wait Monday night to buy Halo Reach at a Best Buy in New York City, prior to its midnight launch . Credit: Associated Press