MS: 17.7 million 360s sold

Microsoft's latest installed-user-base figure suggests 18 percent drop in hardware sales; Halo 3 hits 8.1M, Mass Effect moves 1.6M.

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Last month's full retail sales figures haven't been tallied just yet, but Microsoft today gave number-hungry gamers a few morsels to tide them over. Calling its Xbox 360 the industry leader "hands down," Microsoft announced that it had sold 17.7 million systems worldwide.

While that's the highest announced installed user base of the current-generation consoles--Nintendo in an October financial report projected worldwide Wii sales of 17.5 million through March of 2008--it suggests 2007 sales of the Xbox 360 were actually down nearly 18 percent from the year before.

At the company's early-January 2007 Consumer Electronics Show keynote address, Microsoft announced an installed user base of 10.4 million, which would put 2007's tally at 7.3 million systems sold. Microsoft announced sales of 1.5 million for the system's 2005 launch quarter, which suggests that 2006 sales would have totaled 8.9 million, significantly more than 2007's 7.3 million total.

The Xbox 360's biggest game to date also received a sales update, as Microsoft revealed that it had sold 8.1 million copies of Halo 3 since its September release. Combined with the hardware base, this suggests that nearly 46 percent of Xbox 360 owners have purchased a copy of the Bungie-developed shooter.

Microsoft claims that its other holiday-season sci-fi epic, the BioWare-developed Mass Effect, sold 1.6 million copies in its first six weeks on sale. The November release was intended to be the first installment in a trilogy for Microsoft and the Xbox 360, but it remains to be seen exactly what impact, if any, Electronic Arts' acquisition of BioWare will have on the series' future.

More Microsoft numbers are likely to be revealed during the company's 2008 CES keynote address on Sunday evening. Check back with GameSpot for full coverage of the event.

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