Halo 4 hits US$220 million on launch day
Microsoft said its Halo 4 video game racked up US$220 million (NZ$269 million) in global sales on its launch day, beating records set by previous instalments of the hit series.
Action-shooter Halo 4, released last Tuesday, is on its way to reaching US$300 million in global sales in its first week, making it the biggest launch in the decade-old Halo franchise's history, the company said.
The previous installment Halo: Reach, the fourth game in the series, launched in September 2010 and raked in US$200 million in global sales on its launch day.
The Halo franchise has generated over US$3.38 billion in revenue since its 2001 launch, Microsoft said.
"We're thrilled that 'Halo 4' has emerged as the biggest US entertainment launch of the year," said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios.
Shares of the world's largest software company closed down 2.1 percent at US$28.22 on Nasdaq.
The Halo series, made by Microsoft Game Studios, spearheaded the company's foray into gaming that began with the 2001 launch of the first Xbox.
Halo 4 is a key title for Microsoft, heading into the holiday shopping season.
Industry watchers say Halo 4 sales figures will shed light on whether the game can revive flagging sales for the videogame sector, and beat Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which goes on sale on Tuesday and compete for the title of 2012's top-selling game.
The first-person shooter series, published by rival Activision Blizzard Inc is now the biggest-selling title on the Xbox.
'MASTER CHIEF' HERO RETURNS
In Halo 4, Microsoft brought back Master Chief, Halo's laconic green-armoured hero after a five-year hiatus in hopes of captivating gamers and generating record-setting sales.
In the game, Master Chief is pitted against deadly aliens in a quest to save humanity and Cortana, his longtime friend and artificial-intelligence construct.
Halo 4 offers multiplayer capabilities, advanced graphics and a new class of evil enemies - the Prometheans.
To celebrate Master Chief's return in Halo 4, the company held splashy launch events across the world.
Last week, a spectacular Halo glyph display - 50 feet in diameter with over 113,000 LED lights - was flown by the company on a helicopter over the Thames River and was visible for miles around London.
Microsoft Game Studios' new team, 343 Industries, took over three years to develop the latest instalment of the hit franchise.
All titles before Halo 4 were created by Bungie studios, which Microsoft acquired in 2000. Bungie split from Microsoft five years later to work independently.
Bungie then signed a ten-year deal with Activision Blizzard and is working on various projects with the game publisher. Microsoft retained Halo's intellectual property rights.