Halo 3 Sales Numbers Pathetically Overblown

by Paul William Tenny

Microsoft announced that Halo 3 sales reached $170 million after its first day on sale to the general public, and although those numbers are certainly impressive, they they aren't all they are being heralded as by other media pundits who ought to know better. Matt Mitovich of TV Guide as an example claims that Halo 3 is "the biggest entertainment launch in history" that "puts to shame the coin collected by the launches of the film Spider-Man 3 and the novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

Comparing games to films is apples and oranges really, they simply don't work the same way. The first metric you'd use is retail price, and the true reason for the incredible sales numbers for Halo 3 are immediately obvious in how over-priced the game is: $59.99 on Amazon.com. Compare that to a typical theater ticket at between $10-15, and the disparity is immense. At that price, we're only talking about sales of about 2.833 million units. If you compare the units sold of Halo 3 to tickets sold for Spider-Man 3 (estimating tickets at $12 each) then you're looking at almost 5 million tickets vs 2.8 million units on the first day.

Halo 3 is quickly blown out of the water by quantity, but is that fair?
Not really, since Halo 3 went on sale world-wide on the same day. Movies open in different territories across the globe in a process that can take weeks and months to complete. If you assume a world-wide launch, SM3 handily crushes Halo 3 in total volume and gross.

But that's not the end of it, because movies aren't simply shelved after they run in the theater - another reason why comparing games to films is nonsense. Games only have a primary shelf life of about three months, after which their sales decline rapidly and it becomes a bargain bin item, never to be seen again. Films on the other hand have a number of secondary outlets which see it continually sold over the course of many years - all completely legitimate original sales.


After the theater there are DVDs, Pay-Per-View, pay-channel cable, broadcast network, and finally regular cable syndication. If you added in these sales, which is perfectly legitimate since they are all first-run sales and not used goods, practically any moderately successful film would beat Halo 3's sales numbers. I say these are legitimate because these all represent sales of the film versus that film's performance in a theater.

If you want to count sales, then you count sales, not performances in a single venue.

The previous installment in this game franchise, Halo 2, has sold approximately 6.5 million units since its release one year ago. There is a major discrepancy in its Wikipedia entry though, where at one point it says 6.5+ units had been shipped as of this month, only later to say that over 7 million had shipped as of Nov of 2005.

6.5 million units at $59.99 each totals around $389 million, a paltry number when compared to total gross of major motion pictures. It doesn't come within sniffing distance of the top 10, hell, it can't even see the top 50.

SM3 has grossed $890 million worldwide (12th all-time) while Pirates 3 spanked Peter Parker for $960 million (5th.) Halo 2 for which we currently have (semi-)decent numbers, would rank 96th, just above Happy Feet, just below Robin Hood: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. See for yourself.

Halo 2 trails all-time leader Titanic by about $1.5 billion.


So while Halo 3's opening day sales are impressive, they are only truly impressive in the world of games. Feature films simply operate by different metrics that handicap their opening day gross. People can order a game online and never leave their home, while you have to lose an entire work day visiting a movie theater making it more likely that people will make the trip when it is most convenient for them. Additionally, theaters have a more limited capacity for screening films while Microsoft can have millions of copies of the game produced in third-world countries and ready to ship without delay or shortages when the big day comes.

That alone destroys any chance for a film to match a big game like Halo in single day cume.

It would be nice if people would get their heads on straight and stop trying to compare first-day game sales to feature film opening - it's just not possible, and even if it were with all things being equal, games would get absolutely squashed anyway.

**Note: the graphs don't include Halo 3 because those numbers aren't available, it being new and all, but you can certainly project.

in Feature, Games


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It sounds like you're a videogame hater or true film fanatic because you're trying to back your points up with facts while undermining yourself with nonsensical opinions.

You call Halo 3 over-prices because it's $60 compared to a $10-$15 movie ticket, but most Halo players will easily log many, many more hours playing Halo then they will watching Spider-Man 3 over their lifetimes.

You state that films are handicapped by different metrics, including limited theatre capacity, but you should also contrast the main handicap that games have to sell; there are only 11 million Xbox 360 systems worldwide, so there is a hard cap on how many games can be sold. But anybody can go watch a movie.

You're correct in stating that it's an apples to oranges comparison, but you should have contrasted both sides. It's obvious that your "pathetically overblown" headline is a just an attempt to get some hits, but Halo 3 exceeded Microsoft's own predictions while breaking the single day record for sales in the entertainment sector, so we can only conclude that your hyperbole is pathetically overblown.
I want you to write an article when the halo movie comes out and compare it to all the other things you have here. It's not a fair comparison because anyone and EVERYONE can go to a movie for 5 or 10$. Not everyone can buy Halo 3 because you have to also own a 400$ console to play it. Now compare the install base of the xbox 360 and Halo 3 purchases to the population of the United States and the number of people who watch a given movie and give a true comparison!!! Let's go apples to apples, not apples to Bananas!!
Your obvious bias against video games and gamers, discredits this article in my eyes. Your one of those people that refuses to accept that its becoming more and more mainstream.
FYI I say Spiderman 3 on opening day and I was 1 of 10 people in the theater

The fact of the matter is the population size: Xbox 360 users: 11.2 million. Movies: Practically anyone who can leave there home.

Just imagine the number of tickets sold to like 3-5 year olds dragged to the movie by their parents. I myself couldn't understand why the kids were in the theater as the movie bored, then terrified them.

Halo 3 pulled in an impressive amount of sales. (Compare those to the last 2 games Bioshock and Metroid Prime 3, those games were high profile, and didn't sell even close to as many units and they had a broader audience (Bioshock is 360 owners + PC owners)

The fact of the matter is Halo 3 did great...you're only selling it short to rebel against the hype.
The other thing to consider is that once you purchase Halo 3 there can and will be added expenses. You may require an Xbox live account, another $30. you may want extras that can only be downloaded from the your live account. Which includes points.
Besides 25% of any market is impressive. Compare that to to movies with a possible reach of 6 BILLION people. (For argument sake just do 4 BILLION) Then your looking at a very small fraction of the world populace going to see films. Buy you self an xbox, and don't feel so bad about you playstation purchase.
Well sir do consider this, ALL games this generation are $59.99 not just Halo 3 so the more correct statement is that ALL games are overpriced.

Also you made estimates about Halo 2, to make your estimates more accurate, the price for that game was $49.99 (as was the standard for that generation). As was stated though you seem to have a bias against videogames but the truth is the truth, if you're going to factor in the price of the games, factor in the install base of the console as well.

Also, a major release game like Halo 3 won't be on the shelf for "3 months" before it's in the bargain bin. Halo 2 isn't even in the bargain bin, and it's price didn't drop for 2 years. Most big releases usually can sell consistantly for months on end before the publisher drops it's price probably closer to a year than anything else.

Just do more research about the industry, the sales, and the way things work.
You seem to think that 1 game sale equals to 1 ticket sale. A family of four or five can play the same game, while a family of for or five going to the same movie equals four or five tickets sold. so for a family of four the price would be about the same. And I agree that the 25% sales to install base blows out the movie indutry who has so many more possible customers!!
Yeah but how many people get million dollar contracts for watching movies??
Nearly 5 million copies of Halo 3 were sold, out of an install base over 11 million

Name one movie that over 40% of the population owns, and I will fully agree with you
You're really wasting your time on comparing games and movies. I both play video games and watch plenty of movies. I love them both, and they're a big part of my life. But seriously, all of you listen to me carefully, GO OUTSIDE!
"You call Halo 3 over-prices because it's $60 compared to a $10-$15 movie ticket, but most Halo players will easily log many, many more hours playing Halo then they will watching Spider-Man 3 over their lifetimes."-another poster

"Actually I never said why I thought it was over priced, you seem to have inferred that on your own. Halo 3 is over priced because games shouldn't (and many don't) cost that much. For what they are, ticket prices are above where they should be as well.

Put simply, Halo 3 is overpriced because it's overpriced."-you

That is EXACTLY what you said

"and the true reason for the incredible sales numbers for Halo 3 are immediately obvious in how over-priced the game is: $59.99 on Amazon.com. Compare that to a typical theater ticket at between $10-15, and the disparity is immense."- you... dude youre f*cking dumb
He is not agreeing with you, though a lot of people are misunderstanding you, you are stating that halo is not as successful, for the reasons you mention.

HOWEVER over 40% of 360 owners own halo 3. is there any 1 movie that has EVER been watched by half of population of the united states on release day. If your going to compare product sales you HAVE to figure in install base.

Any given movie has an install base of the entire populaion of the US, or even the world in some cases, which is upward of 6 billion, whereas Halo 3 only had an install base of 11 million!

So halo 3 WAS the most successful launch, in terms the ratio of people who are able to view it, to the people who DID view it... Halo was the most successful.

Maybe you should practice youre reading comprehension, and if youre going to make comparisons... DO IT RIGHT...

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