Microsoft said Thursday that its sci-fi video game Halo 3 posted sales of more than $300 million in its first week on the market. "Halo 3 is truly a cultural phenomenon," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, in a statement.
Halo 3, for Microsoft's Xbox 360 platform, went on sale Sept. 25. With first day sales of $170 million, the game has already broken a number of industry records for market performance. Retailers took more than 1.7 million pre-orders for Halo 3, another record.
The game is also setting new standards for online play. More than 2.7 million gamers played Halo 3 over Xbox Live in the first week, according to Microsoft.
The title stars Master Chief, a biologically enhanced soldier who has to blast his through a futuristic landscape to survive and accomplish missions. He's countered at every turn by The Covenant, an alliance of hostile aliens.
Despite being less than two weeks old, Halo 3 has already transcended video game circles to make its way into popular culture. The Madam Tussauds wax museum in Las Vegas recently added a statue of Master Chief to a collection of sports and entertainment superstars that includes Shaquille O'Neal and Elvis.
The Halo 3 launch did not go off without a hitch, however. Microsoft conceded that faulty packaging caused scratching on some discs included in the $70.00 Limited Edition of the game. Additionally, the volume of gamers playing Halo 3 on Xbox Live reportedly slowed the network for those playing other games last week.
Still, there's no doubt that Halo 3 is a huge success for Microsoft. The company is hoping that the buzz generated by the game will boost Xbox 360 sales, which dropped 60% year-over-year in the company's fiscal fourth quarter. "Halo 3 embodies our vision for the future of entertainment," said Gates.