September 25, 2007. This date likely holds no significance for you. But for millions of rabid game fans, September 25 was akin to a holiday--like Christmas and New Year's Eve rolled into one awesome day when they got the exact present they requested and then had to call in sick after going on an all-night bender playing it.
Fans lined up for hours to receive their copy of Halo 3 at 12 a.m. And for Microsoft, Xbox and Bungie Studios (the game production studio that, up until last week, was owned by Microsoft), it paid off with more than $170 million in U.S. sales the first day. The game brought in more than $300 million worldwide in the first week. It also doubled sales for the Xbox 360 in the first week of release, and nearly 3 million people played the game online on Xbox LIVE that week.
The phenomenal success of Halo 3 is the result of a confluence of elements. Of course, Microsoft threw a load of money into marketing, but money alone doesn't garner the fanatic devotion bestowed upon Halo 3. The multiplayer gameplay is legendary, and the open-ended environments encourage replay. "The replay value has no equal," says Scott Davis, a huge fan from San Francisco who not only purchased both an Xbox 360 and HDTV LCD solely for Halo 3, but also sent Bungie Studios a thank-you note.