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Microsoft Hypes Launch of Halo 3 Game

VOA News

Thousands of video game fans waited in long lines across the United States to be the first to own a copy of "Halo 3". The first-person shooter video game is Microsoft Corporation's best selling title for its Xbox 360 game console. Industry experts say Microsoft is pinning its hopes on the sequel to the popular "Halo" video game franchise to widen its lead on the lucrative video game market.

Hype and fanfare greeted the U.S. launch of Microsoft's newest game. At a store in New York City, the line stretched around the block, as game characters kept fans entertained. Uchendu Nwachukwu was a bit bleary-eyed, but happy to be first in line. "I got here 6 p.m. yesterday. Been waiting here ever since. Looking forward to getting "Halo 3" and going home and playing it and looking forward to getting some sleep."

"Halo 3" resumes the game hero, Master Chief's, epic adventures as the masked soldier from the future returns to earth to battle alien forces that threaten humanity's survival.

Game developer Frank O'Connor at Bungie Studios predicts game fans will not be disappointed. "It's the last part of our "Halo" trilogy. It is confidently the best game we ever made as a studio. We're really happy with it. Our review scores came in yesterday, we're really happy with those, but most importantly we're looking forward to actually playing with real people."

And game fans, some dressed in Master Chief T-shirts could not wait. Two rushed to join the queue after school. One young excited fan says, "I got out and I rushed here as soon as I could." Another said, “Going back to school tomorrow, I was at school today, I mean I hope I get sick, but…"

Looking for a reason to be sick, young boy said, "If I get diagnosed with the flu, that would be pretty lucky."

Microsoft says more than a million copies of the game had been pre-ordered prior to the midnight launch.

Although official sales projections were not available, Microsoft Game Studio chief Shane Kim predicts Halo 3 will outdo Spider-Man 3, the movie*, which grossed more than $150 million in its opening weekend.

"Well, Halo 3 is going to be the biggest entertainment launch in history so our expectations are it'll exceed anything for a video game. It'll really be the biggest event of the year."

Industry experts say the significance of the Halo franchise cannot be underestimated for Microsoft. The software company was a newcomer to the $30 billion a year video game industry when it launched the Xbox game console in 2001. The Xbox 360 came out in 2005. It has enjoyed stronger sales this year than the pricier Sony Playstation 3.

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