For months, the Web was rife with rumors that Microsoft would ship the sequel to Halo 2 for the Xbox 360 simultaneously with the launch of the PlayStation 3. Now, that has been confirmed--by none other than Bill Gates himself.
In next week's issue of Time Magazine--which features Gates holding the Xbox 360 on the cover--Gates mentioned plans for the release of the much-anticipated follow-up to the best-selling console shooter. In a parenthetical sidebar in the article, Time says the following:
"Note to the hard-core faithful: the next version of Halo will not, repeat not, be ready in time for the launch of Xbox 360. It will be part of the all-important second wave next spring. 'It's perfect,' Gates says, radiant with bloodlust. 'The day Sony launches [the new PlayStation], and they walk right into Halo 3.'"
While Microsoft reps were not available for comment as of press time, Gates' comments appear to confirm the theory that Microsoft will release Halo 3 either simultaneously or near the release of Sony's next-gen console. It also marks further official confirmation that a third Halo is indeed in the works and will be released for the Xbox 360.
Although such statements might be interpreted as grandstanding, such a maneuver definitely would have an impact. Halo 2 sold more than 6.5 million copies to date and is credited with doubling the subscriber base of Xbox Live from around 750,000 to more than 1.5 million. It is also credited by industry-watchers as one of the main reasons for boosting sales of the original Xbox last holiday season.