Another Look at 'Halo 3' Sales Numbers

by Paul William Tenny

The last time I wrote a post that clearly showed Halo 3's sales numbers were overblown, a number of the games fans weren't too happy and accused me of being biased against Halo 3 specifically, Halo in general, and games overall. Of course none of those things are true, and thus far the numbers have held up fairly well. Now that more sales figures are in, it's take to take another quick look at how this game compares to the major motion pictures of this past summer.

I noted that after roughly three months of being on the shelf, most games get dumped into the bargain bin because games have a drastically downward sales curve compared to other media. A couple of people commented that the Halo series hasn't been hardly discounted at all, but that only proves that either retailers or Microsoft and Bungie are greedy, gouging customers well after the game's value has plummeted.

To give you an idea of just how bad these curves are, look at the sales numbers 10 days after Halo 3's release. According to Microsoft, the $59.99 game raked in about $170 million on its first day (worldwide, something films do not do.) According to Variety, those numbers run to about $300 million as of Friday. That's a 43% drop over a combined 10-day period. That isn't all that different from a lot of Hollywood films, except for the fact that films surge on the weekend because people generally can't and won't go to theaters during the week.

It's a lot easier to play a video game for an hour of spare time than it is to take a shower, get dressed up, drive to the theater, wait for the film to start, watch the film, then come home.

As you can see from these numbers, and as was to be expected, Halo 3 is going to outsell Halo 2. By how much is really still up in the air, but I'd have to say not by very much. Even if the game sold at a nearly constant rate every single day from the 25th of September through the 5th of October, it's only making about $13 million per day in sales, down from the $170 million on the first day.

This is what people don't understand when they see the big launch number and think that Halo 3 and big games today in general can not only compete with blockbuster films, but also beat them at their own money game. For a single day, yes, it outsold both these films. By number of units sold (tickets versus boxes) no, it's not even close, and films are handicapped by not having a simultaneous worldwide release.

If you add in DVD sales which is appropriate since it's a first-sale item (once they are released), you could probably double these film grosses, if not more. But as you'll see below, that's not even necessary and would only be cruel.

The truth is that Halo 3 isn't out there selling a continuous $13m worth of boxes per week. In all likelihood as is the case with films and DVDs and virtually everything else, the drop-off has a curve to it. Now I'm not terribly great at math so my numbers may be off a bit, but you could safely assume a 50% decline every single day from first day sales of $170 million, dropping to $66 million on day 2, then to $33 million on day 3, and $16.5 million on day 4, on and on until you reach Friday the 5th of October when the number is only $128,000.

Add up those daily sales and you get $131.8 million over a 10-day period, or just about $2 million more than has been reported.

I hope that people now understand what I'm talking about when I say games devaluate insanely fast, and even if they don't end up in the bargain bin after three months, that's precisely where they belong in as little as a couple of weeks because their sales potential will have been almost completely exhausted.

Halo 3 probably doesn't have a 50% curve, in fact from the first day sales to the second day, it's probably much worse, down 60 or even 70%. What matters for Microsoft is that the curve after that is much less steep, to where I seriously doubt they are only making $128k per day.

But you get the idea, and hopefully people now understand what the deal is. Don't believe the hype, games just aren't there yet.
in Games


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Why dont you put upthe figures on production cost and advertising and just how much of the money is profit!
I see you've done some research here and it is accurate. However, as I read this I begin to wonder whether you've ever actually reviewed any sort of respected material pertaining to comparison. Because if you had you would realize that putting these two things side by side is simply a waste of time because the nature of the product is so vastly different. Yes game sales drop quickly (you only need to buy it once for one household, provided that household even contains an xbox 360). Yes movie total profit wins in total (obviously! the product is all about volume and it's accessibility is in a different class for so many reasons). But to try and use these numbers in any sort of way and come out with any logical conclusion is ludicrous and frankly quite naive on your part. Had this article appeared in a journal where these numbers and comparisons are expected to actually hold up to the logical scrutiny of your peers you would been laughed off the field completely. This nonsensical comparison is such a childish attempt at getting some hits I can't help but feel sorry for you when I read what you clearly consider to be logical. Seriously, the three line bar graph is cute, but leave numbers to the big boys and continue doing what you do best. Which is clearly pissing off as many people as you can in an attempt to get some hits.
I am not sure I agree with you. I see your point that we shouldn't make a big deal out of it, but I disagree. Everyone has seems to have forgotten about the game already, yet people still talk about the Iphone. All things considered the Iphone is nothing amazing. I mean there has been touch screen smart phones for years. They just never put it in a shinny package with few features and a highly restricted operating system.

The real story here is the amazing fact that this may copies have sold. Considering how few people could use the game. The game is not released to the PC market, it is not released to Sony or Nintendo and it won't work on the original x-box. The people running Microsoft are clueless. I mean when they rushed to get the counsel to market before games were ready to play on it or there was a demand. They purposely under manufacture it and over hype the release which only annoyed their customer base and did nothing to increase total demand. Because of the poor release they suppressed the natural demand and had to lower prices on the units over and loosing even more money per unit. In addition the rush to market obviously lead to many serious flaws to be over looked. To that end they will loose even more money due to unit failure.

They truly have some talent in Microsoft, I understand they want to dominate counsel sale, but you don't do it over engineering hardware and under producing content. Then driving away possible customers by under suppling the release and allowing serious manufacturing defects.

But really who really thinks this game is anything special. I mean I saw the reviews and it was pleasurable. The single player game sounds fairly straight forward and fairly short, The multi player game is slightly improved but basically the same FPS as all the rest.

Microsoft would of been much better off not developing the Xbox360, developing this game on the traditional x-box and getting it to market 2 years earlier, then releasing the game on PC and all possible counsels. They could be working on halo 4 now or some other games.

Content Content content... Why is the WII selling so well? It isn't the cheaper price, it is the CONTENT. they made games that tapped the desires of the masses. not just the extreme FPS gamer. I mean I hate FPS, I don't understand how so many people can play them for so many hours.

I am very curious how big Starcraft 2 will be. Starcraft is 10 years old and still selling globally at an amazing rate. I assume Blizzard is smart enough to make the game work on all counsels and PCs. But considering how bad Warcraft 3 was, even blizzard can screw up a sure thing.

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