Bungie: 1 billion Halo 3 games played online

Independent developer touts milestone hit by its 360-exclusive shooter, which has now been played for the equivalent of more than 64,100 years.

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Anyone vaguely familiar with games knows that Halo 3 is popular. It was the top-selling US game in 2007, and as of January 31, 2009, had sold more than 5.73 million copies in the US alone. The third installment in the sci-fi shooter series was also the subject of widespread critical plaudits, receiving a solid 9.5 rating from GameSpot after its release a year and a half ago.

"We sure showed those Neanderthals! Silly prehistorical species..."

Last night, Bungie reminded the world of the Halo 3 phenomenon's popularity by announcing that some 1 billion online sessions of the game have been played so far. By comparison, the controversial Halo 2, released in 2004 for the original Xbox, has seen only around 798 million online games played.

Were the billion-game figure not enough, the once-Microsoft-owned, now-independent developer underlined the milestone by breaking down exactly how much time has been spent playing the game. As of 6:36 p.m. yesterday evening, it had racked up some 2,023,153,340,764 seconds of matchmaking playtime, or 64,109 years. To put that into perspective, Bungie helpfully pointed out that 64,000 years ago, Neanderthals still walked the earth and Homo sapiens had not yet arrived on the Asian continent.

Bungie did not speculate where humanity would be 64,000 years from now. However, the near future will see Halo 3 online play sharply increase when the Mythic Map Pack hits Xbox Live later this month. The maps will also be included as part of the stand-alone Halo 3 expansion, Halo 3: ODST, due out in the fall.

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