Halo 3's first-day US haul = $170 million

Microsoft announces that its 360-exclusive shooter is now "the biggest entertainment launch in [American] history" following a banner 24 hours at retail.

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Thought the Halo 3 hype onslaught was over? Think again. After promising that the Xbox 360 exclusive's first-day launch would be huge, the software giant wasted little time in saying so. Today, the company announced that by its estimates, first-day sales of Halo 3 totaled $170 million in the US alone, $45 million more than Halo 2's 2004 debut.

The staggering figure presumably came from Microsoft's internal estimates, as it did not name a source for the data. Microsoft reps also had not clarified whether or not the figure was solely at physical retail stores or also included sales of the game from online retailers. "We only know the number is $170 million," said a rep.

If proven accurate when the NPD Group releases its sales figures next month, the number would give Halo 3 the honor of having generated more money in 24 hours than any other American entertainment property ever. The $170 million haul would also best Spider-Man 3's $151 million domestic theatrical opening weekend and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' first-day US sales of an estimated 8.3 million copies at a range of price points. (At the book's full hardcover price of $34.95, that number would have generated $290 million.)

Not so shockingly, Microsoft executives were pleased with Halo 3's performance. Throwing modesty to the wind, Microsoft Game Studios corporate vice president Shane Kim proclaimed, "Not only is Halo 3 setting sales records, it's also redefining entertainment. Within the first 20 hours alone, we've seen more than a million Xbox Live members come online to play Halo 3--that makes September 25 the most active Xbox Live gaming day in history."

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