Starting tonight “Halo 3,” the final chapter of Microsoft Corp.’s epic video game trilogy, finally goes on sale around the world. By the end of the week, fans in 37 countries will be playing the game Wired magazine recently called “a cultural touchstone, a Star Wars for the thumb stick generation.”
In the United States, more than 10,000 retailers across the country are opening their doors at midnight tonight solely to sell copies of the game and accompanying Xbox 360 consoles and accessories. With nary a pirate, a spider or a wand in sight, day-one sales of the highly anticipated video game are expected to shatter entertainment sales records and top the biggest entertainment launches of all time.
“The excitement and demand for ‘Halo 3’ has transcended a typical video game release and we’re preparing dedicated registers for its midnight release in our 24-hour stores,” said Darin Dickson, video game merchandise buyer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. “It’s clear that this is one of the most anticipated games of the year and that 12:01 am Sept. 25 will be a memorable moment for thousands of gamers.”
The conclusion of “Halo 2” left unanswered questions around the fates of the beloved protagonist Master Chief and his artificial intelligence sidekick Cortana as they struggle to save humankind from destruction at the hands of the alien coalition known as the Covenant. The legions of dedicated fans lining the streets tonight are waiting for the chance to be among the first to own the coveted final chapter in the “Halo” trilogy and unearth the well-kept secrets of the storyline.
“Our customers have been waiting for ‘Halo 3’ since the day after ‘Halo 2’ launched in 2004,” said Jill Hamburger, vice president of movies and games at Best Buy. “‘Halo 3’ is going to bring the experience to new levels, and we are excited to help our customers get the best possible game playing experience.”
Developed by Bungie Studios, the “Halo” franchise is exclusive to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system and optimized for the Xbox LIVE online entertainment network. The more than 7 million Xbox LIVE users will get a continually evolving gaming experience with “Halo 3” and its online multiplayer and cooperative gameplay for Xbox LIVE Gold users, the much-talked-about Saved Films feature that enables players to capture and save their favorite moments on their hard drives, and Forge, an innovative map editor that enables infinite customization options.
“With ‘Halo 3,’ Bungie Studios has further mastered the art of marrying fantastic gameplay with the intangibles that make the experience extraordinary for gamers, evoking incredible emotion through its story and character development,” said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “That emotion is at the heart of what makes this more than a game and why ‘Halo’ connects with its audience in the way other great stories like ‘Star Wars’ resonated with theirs. But unlike the static experiences of a great film or novel, ‘Halo 3’ offers a dynamic and social interactive entertainment experience that enables players to finish the fight themselves.”
Regional Marquee Events and Global Celebration
More than 10,000 retailers are planning events and opening their doors at midnight to celebrate this third installment in the billion-dollar franchise. In New York, Seattle, Miami and Los Angeles, Microsoft and retail partners are hosting marquee launch events that will feature contests and appearances by local celebrities and professional athletes who are fanatical about the “Halo” franchise.
The marquee launch events will be held at the following stores:
— New York: Best Buy, 529 5th Ave, New York, N.Y. 10017
— Seattle: Best Buy, 457 120th Ave NE, Bellevue, Wash. 98005
— Los Angeles: GameStop, 1000 Universal Studios Blvd, Universal City,
— Miami: Circuit City, 8575 Northwest 13th Terrace, Miami, Fla. 33126
A list of retail outlets opening at 12:01 a.m. can be found at http://www.xbox.com/unitetofight.