Halo: Reach landing September 14

Multiplayer beta participation falls shy of Bungie's estimates; simultaneous near-global retail launch confirmed, game coming a day later in Japan.

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Halo: Reach is coming on September 14, Microsoft confirmed today. The sci-fi first-person shooter is the latest entry in Bungie's multimillion-selling Halo franchise and acts as a prequel to the other games in the series. The game will be launched simultaneously worldwide, except in Japan. Gamers there will have to wait until September 15 to get their hands on a copy, according to an Associated Press report.

The existence of Halo: Reach was first confirmed at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, and the launch window was narrowed to fall 2010 days later when Bungie demoed Halo: ODST on the GameSpot stage at the show.

Gamers who bought ODST gained access to the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta, which ran for a little over two weeks. More than 1 million ODST owners logged into the Reach beta on day one, with a further 1.7 million joining the action online until last Thursday, when the extended beta closed.

Get ready for more outlandish packaging with the legendary edition.
Get ready for more outlandish packaging with the legendary edition.

The number of players who joined the beta did not, however, match Bungie's expectations. Talking to the Seattle Times in April, Bungie community director Brian Jarrard said, "My expectation is it could be upwards of 3 million people. I think that's a fairly conservative estimate."

Halo: Reach is "probably" going to be Bungie's last entry in the storied franchise. It is set before the 2001 Xbox classic Halo: Combat Evolved, the first game in the series, and tells the story of the defense of Reach by a Spartan squad. The Halo franchise has so far sold in excess of 34 million games, according to Microsoft. The game will ship in three variant editions--normal, limited, and legendary--as confirmed in April.

Bungie recently tied up a 10-year exclusivity deal with publishing behemoth Activision "to bring Bungie's next big action game universe to market," with future games based on new IP coming to multiple platforms.

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