Is Halo Really Growing?

Halo 4 minted $220 million in day-one global sales, besting Halo: Reach and Halo 3, but breaking down the data shows Master Chief may be losing his edge.

With day-one sales of $220 million (and projections for $300 million in first-week sales), Halo 4 got off to a better start than any other Halo game to date. Microsoft even claimed its new shooter outpaced day-one United States box office results for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two and The Avengers, and was the "biggest entertainment launch this year." The superlatives continued, with Microsoft calling the Halo series "one of the most popular entertainment franchises in the world" and claiming Halo 4 is a "record-breaking" and "must-have blockbuster."

In all, the Halo series now has tallied $3.38 billion in revenue, but is Microsoft's crown jewel growing at any appreciable rate?

Halo 4's $220 million day-one mark was only $20 million better than Halo: Reach's $200 million haul in 2010 and $50 million better than Halo 3's $170 million take in 2007. (This despite Microsoft investing more developing Halo 4 than any other game in the company's history) To be clear, millions of dollars in year-over-year growth is nothing to scoff at, but Microsoft left out important sales-by-location details yesterday when announcing Halo 4's record-breaking launch.

Halo 4's $220 million represented worldwide sales across 40 countries, while Reach's $200 million mark only took sales from North America and Europe into account. And Halo 3's $170 million haul was derived from United States sales alone, not even Canada. Viewed using that lens, Halo 4's $220 million no longer looks so impressive.

Adding to the complexity (and the possible further dilution of Halo 4's $220 million day-one haul), Microsoft did not say if Halo 4's launch figure included revenue from the $350 Halo 4 Limited Edition Xbox 360 console, $60 special edition controllers, $25 official strategy guide, $10 soundtrack, or the $25 War Games map pass. [At press time Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment] Revenue derived from the War Games map pass (something Halo: Reach and Halo 3 never had) should not be overlooked as some small figure. GameStop's director of digital content Brad Schliesser told GameSpot last week that the retailer had attached this DLC to all sales at a rate of 13 percent. And that's at just one retailer.

In an effort to make more sense of Halo 4's launch figures, GameSpot got in touch with Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. The industry diviner told us that he does not see Halo 4 performing any better than past games Halo: Reach and Halo 3.

"I think they’re pretty comparable, and think that Halo 4 will probably end up around the same as the others. With that said, the first four did $3 billion in sales, or $750 million apiece, so that’s around 12-13 million units each. I think that this one will comfortably sell 8 million within six months, and am not particularly concerned about first-day or week sales," Pachter said.

We also spoke with Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) analyst Jesse Divnich. He said it was no surprise that Halo 4's day-one numbers were bigger than Halo: Reach or Halo 3's, partially because the Xbox 360 install base has steadily grown. [The Xbox 360 has been the top-selling console in North America since October 2011]. That said, he does not anticipate Halo 4 overtaking the sales milestone notched by Bungie's final entry, Halo: Reach.

"Halo 4 sales were in-line with expectations," Divnich said. "As we get deeper into a series within the same console cycle, it is expected that initial sales will grow. However, we don't believe that long-term sales will outpace Halo: Reach and instead sales are likely to be flat over the course of the first 12 months. It's common for first-day, week, and month sales to outpace previous iterations, again when late in a cycle, but over the long-haul sales are likely to be flat."

Halo 4's record-breaking $220 million debut may have been the eye-catching headline yesterday, but Divnich was more impressed with the series handover from Bungie to Microsoft.

"The true accomplishment is the successful transition of development studios," Divnich said. "The results speak for themselves, Halo fans have welcomed 343 Industries with open arms and 343 Industries has cemented themselves as the right developer to continue the Halo franchise."

Whether or not the Halo series is the cultural landmark Microsoft claims it to be, the franchise will continue beyond Halo 4 as part of the Reclaimer Trilogy that will span (at least) Halo 5 and 6. Microsoft is no doubt hoping Master Chief has the endurance to continue.

Halo 4 is available today exclusively for Xbox 360. For more, check out GameSpot's review.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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0 comments
tgwolf
tgwolf

It's simple...the article says it well enough. Sales don't equate to the success of a product, and Halo is certainly an example. Halo remains a not-even-vanilla FPS that has managed to beat the FPS curve and incorporate much needed RPG life, but it is for naught...it remains, fatally, an FPS.

erix43
erix43

What a stupid article. 

 

brainiac1988
brainiac1988

Halo is awesome. The Chief is here to stay ;)

HAMMERCLAW
HAMMERCLAW

Halo is like Star Wars; it is expanding from it's original medium into other forms of entertainment. It's fans are just as enthusiastically devoted. Like Star Wars, it's owners see nothing wrong with "Milking the Franchise". After all, that's what cash cows are for.

Verenti
Verenti

Wait, are you telling me that they're cheating the metrics? :D

It's ACTUALLY propaganda. But as there are about 50 countries in Europe by conservative counts, I don't see what's the difference between Reach's metrics and Halo 4's. Except cherry-picking countries to give the best results.

 

Who trusts publishers anyhow?

Getbacktogaming
Getbacktogaming

343 are just getting started, just bring over the next box and lets see what they can really do = D this generation is clearly tired.

Csdabest89
Csdabest89

Honestly. I have had some friends that didnt even know Halo  4 came out already. And they claim to be big Halo fans. So who knows. You got to take into account that Halo 4 was also released ON election day so im pretty sure Halo 4 was overshadowed by the election.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Statistics is the sh*t, but bullsh*t if it's not clear how they went about coming up with those statistics. Anyway, Halo 4 is a great success and for fans that's great. It's also great for the company and in some way good for the industry. I have little doubt that CoD: BlOps 2 will break that record and become the new "biggest entertainment launch this year", but that's beside the point.

Tomski526
Tomski526

Wow seriously?! Instead of letting a game enjoy its success you immediately start painting a negative image? Uncool bro...

hangman000
hangman000

"Reclaimer Trilogy" Dont stop milking!

tsyder
tsyder

Halo4>>>Reach

 

snaketus
snaketus

Another Halo 4 article! That's what we needed.

vaibhavp
vaibhavp

how can gamespot ban users for trolling when they themselves do it so much?

GPRx3
GPRx3

Ah Gamespot... Why am I not surprised to see you trying to badmouth Halo now that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is out..?

Scorchstar
Scorchstar

I would buy a Xbox to play Halo, A lot of people would too, shows how Microsoft were smart to buy the franchise.

Zid96
Zid96

i like HALO... But there to much of a good thing. There's only what a 2 or 3 year gape. And most fan are still playing the last one in that time. It will still be played but not as big... Take mario. He get's a new game like each year but he never tops the chart every time. Maby once every 5 or 10 games he does. This is the same thing

orthodox1976
orthodox1976

Good job Microsoft, Bungie and 343!

 

These people are just nitpicking. Sales are up and down, this is better than that... who cares? They are selling games and making money. When they release the Xbox 720 and Halo 5, I'll be grabbing that, for sure.

 

220 million in one day is damn good and I don't think anybody over at Microsoft and 343 are complaining, regardless where the 220 million came from. Keep up the great work!

xblackdivine
xblackdivine

and what is your point gamespot?HALO4 is selling good,HALO4 `s number is awesome,HALO-fans(like ME) are amazed.what is wrong here?220 millions?over 8million pieces estimate and .....you can show your anger but we buy it(i bought the limited edition) and play it and joy it."343" did well,we did well and you did wrong "gamespot".so sorry for you :)^__^

joe_Hogan
joe_Hogan

Yea, I can see how 220 million is losing its edge.

King_Wii
King_Wii

I'm a Halo fan from back in the old Xbox days, I have all the Halo games but just didn't get into the online play of Halo 3 and the others on 360. I will get Halo 4, but I just haven't gotten around to it, busy playing MMOs at the moment :P

themyth01
themyth01

 This almost sounds like a fanboy rant. Do people really care if it's a few million more or less above past Halo's... We know the game sold really well, there is an obvious trend called the law of diminishing returns which dictates that the rate of growth will slow, that is expected. However you look at it though, the game sold on mass, and sales outside EU and NA are probably so small they're not even worth mentioning anyways. 

zulwalks
zulwalks

I think people are still sceptical about Halo 4 because of the Handover from Bungie to 343.....people are scared that it is not Halo anymore

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

Typical end-of-generation release.  The momentum and excitement has waned a little smidgy tiny bit, because of the Studio change and the fact that there are so many other Halo titles on the platform.  With the next Xbox console, and Halo 5 probably one of the first really exciting games to really tap into it's doubtless bucket loads of power, it'll be a must have to all early adopters.  And my goodness, will there be a few early adopters :P

 

Well done 343 for giving me a reason to be excited about the Xbox platform again!

kingcole225
kingcole225

I have been boycotting Halo 4 because it has essentially become Call of Duty with more health now (killstreaks, customizable loadouts, perks, killcams, Spartan Ops, sprint, controls, and even the damn scoring system are all lifted from CoD). Just recently I checked out a lets play of the campaign (because I miss the thing; I have been playing Halo since CE), and thought that the campaign in no way bested Halo Reach's, as IGN and Gamespot seem to have indicated with these crazy reviews. Halo 4 really just seems average (and the multiplayer looks god awful), and I'm not surprised that it is only doing "ok" compared to Bungie's Halo. PLEASE RETURN ME MY FRANCHISE.

 

I'm sorry this got off track. Really what I meant to say was that the Halo 4 campaign really didn't look that good. I'm surprised it's gotten this much attention.

The_Beanster
The_Beanster

Halo is Halo. It has its gameplay niche in the world, and by this point most players know if they like that or not. As a result I'm not surprised that sales for H3/Reach/H4 are all similar. 

 

I love it. Halo is the only multiplayer game I play and it's been that way since basically 2004 with Halo 2.  It's why I own an Xbox. If Halo ever dies off, I probably won't buy consoles or play multiplayer games any more, as I just no longer have the time to learn new games from a multiplayer perspective.

 

However, there's many people who either don't like Halo or treat it as a rental to get through campaign and that's it.

IIIMatricksIII
IIIMatricksIII

For me its the universe that drives me to Halo time and time again. The gameplay is familiar, but the story and characters that I've followed now for eleven years are always worth the price of admission for me ever time, and Halo 4 upped both of those factors over Bungie's games. We finally see the depth of character so often reserved for just the novels, and its awesome. As long as the stories and characters evolve the Halo universe, I'll be there. The Halo saga is in great hands.

Fighting40
Fighting40

Well duh everyones broke from buying AC3 or is gonna spend thier money on cod. I think halos sales will grow as time progresses

Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

Skepticism of 343 Industries and with lots of sequels that have come out (Borderlands 2, Black Ops 2, XCOM, Etc.) are probably the reasons for this. Halo is "old school" in many ways compared to the likes of games that "set the standard" for First Person Shooter such as Call of Duty, and I think that is a reason it is not as popular, even though I wish that it was more popular...

HAMMERCLAW
HAMMERCLAW

God Eddie, what dorky little troll you are. You remind me of the D.C. fans, that said Marvel was just a passing fad. Yes some day Halo will get old and die---but then so will you!

holtrocks
holtrocks

Its because people are or were unsure about 343, also Assassins Creed 3 just came out Crap Ops 2 its the holiday season tons of good games, also Obama just won the election so were not exactly feeling rich, more like we need to go and hide our money rather than spend it ( sorry to bring politics into this, but not sorry enough that i won't post it )

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Now, now. Let's not steal Halo 4's thunder. If history is any indication, all of Halo 4's records will be quickly shattered by Black Ops 2, even on the Xbox 360. But a good game is a good game. I like the spirit of challenging superficial figures, but it's also important to weigh the risk of backlash (and potential harm to future challenges) with the necessity of challenging the numbers. A News Editor should stay true to his integrity, but also be mindful of his reputation in the community. Not like us average faceless users. :) If any Halo 4 hyperbole needs tempering, another game is already doing the work for you.

vault-boy
vault-boy

I think the sales might not have such a big boom but will keep going longer than the others just because people were skeptical of 343. Now that the word is out how well they did I bet lots of people will be getting it, especially for Christmas. 

erix43
erix43

 @GPRx3 

 

Gamespot actually gave COD an 8.0. They are doing a little better, but the game probably sucks more than that. Any company that gave MW3 an 8.5 is a clear piece  of trash. They bash a better game like MOH and gave it a crap review, but MW3, Oooooh noooO!!!! They are being paid off by that soul-less Activision/Treyarch family. Trash, pure trash. As harsh and anal as these reviewers are, it's a mystery that these games got what they got. It's pretty freaking obvious. 

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

 @zulwalks

 But they couldn't be more wrong D:  This is the way Halo was always supposed to be :D

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @kingcole225 1. Halo4 loadout are extremely simplified, and those "perks" are so minor that sometimes you dont feel any difference.

2. Halo4 multiplayer is done for the fans of Halo2, nothing more. 343i didnt even bother to innovate more than that.

3. As i recall COD did not have any similar scoring system until treyarch did them in BLOPS2

4. Halo4 campaign is really slow during the beginning and the mid of the campaign and start to be really interesting at the last segment. Theres some significant improvement in the story, not as the "halo" universe was really that interesting in the first place.

 

 

zulwalks
zulwalks

 @kingcole225 Have you played it? I was sceptical about Halo 4 at first but having actually played it, it is still Halo or rather Halo Greatest Hits Volume 1. Everything from weapon balance, level pacing and the environment and the action is beautifully done and some of the levels remind you a lot of the older Halo games....you should try it out

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

 @kingcole225

 Ok well i've played hours of Halo 4 multiplayer, and historically 100s of hours in the COD franchise MP.  H4 is nothing like a game of COD.  So your assumptions are veeery misplaced.

The_Beanster
The_Beanster

 @kingcole225 Reach was bad for a Halo game.

As for campaign, the story is better than Reach's, which was basically a bad retcon of Fall of Reach. Also the gameplay is better IMO... covies + prometheans = more fun than fighting just covies or covies + flood. 

 

And the multiplayer plays nothing like CoD and is so much better than Reach's broken snoozefest that it's crazy.

bamabam
bamabam

 @Ultra_Taco CoD didnt "set the standard" for anything. Halo is part of SUCH games that "set the standard".... Maybe CoD "set the standard" for "how to milk a game" and then you can say Halo copied CoD. And not even close. CoD has 10 different games and halo has 7 different games + Halo CE came out 2 or 3 years earlier then CoD. Geezzz. Okay Im done flaming.

 

But yeah who cares about the statistics. If Microsoft wants to spend so much money on a game then its their problem. I have it and Im playing like crazy. I think Halo 4 would of sold good without all that Live-action web series stuff, which I thought was pretty cool. So yeah, good job on the numbers Gamespot you deserve a Pony sticker.

 

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

 @ABEzilla116

 Certainly not I.  As long as the Halo franchise strives for the depth of storyline and characters that it currently does, i'll always keep coming back for more.  Halo is in good hands now, may they triumph in all future endeavours!  I just liked the way H4 felt like a game lovingly made with a blank cheque, unlike more recent COD games which are just all about the $$$.

 

With 4m+ sales in the first week alone, MS will have more than made back it's costs.  I think this title will be strong for Christmas as well, considering word of mouth is quite powerful.  And my word is that this is a phenomenal game that any first person action reveller can cherish.  A lot of others i've met so far feel exactly the same.  So with that much positivity, it's bound to have a good shelf life.  Just like all the previous Halo's.

 

Worth noting also that we still don't actually know the full Week 1 figures.  They will be very telling.

frozenux
frozenux

 @holtrocks nah it's ok we now know that you have no concept of how economics works lol

Hurvl
Hurvl

 @tsyder  @vaibhavp"Our site, our rules!" Apart from the fact that they could say that (which I don't think they do) being critical doesn't mean that they're trolling.

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

 @y3ivan  @zulwalks

 Well you know nothing regarding this release then.  Quite a lot has changed in regards to the multiplayer dynamics and gameplay.  I really noticed the improvements and changes overall, they were for the better.  A true modernisation.  I was also glad to hear the rumours of it turning into a COD-match were greatly exaggerated.  Just because 343 took some cues from the wildly successful COD-style multiplayer format, doesn't mean they replicated it.