Not one to sit back and reflect quietly upon its moments of glory, Microsoft has been making quite a fuss over the record breaking Halo 3 launch. It is, Microsoft insists, the "biggest entertainment launch in history." Sales in the first 24 hours, in the US alone, topped $170 million. More, Microsoft is happy to tell anyone who asks, than the opening box office record of Spiderman 3, more than the Harry Potter book launches. Whichever way you look at it, Microsoft is spinning the record breaker angle: 1.7 million copies pre-ordered in the US = fastest selling computer game in history.
Is it really such a big deal though? Comparing sales with Harry Potter is a dangerous tactic as although the 'entertainment launch' umbrella might cover it, the truth is that computer games and books and movies are very different things. Doh!
Money and sales are different things as well. Is there any value in comparing the box office take of a 2007 blockbuster with that of an equally important movie from 30 years ago when tickets cost a whole lot less? Of course not. Is there any value in comparing the amount of money in the bank when selling a pretty expensive next generation console game against a Nintendo classic from 10 years ago? Nope.
To then compare the amount of money made by an expensive, and non-discounted, computer game against the amount taken in the first day be a ridiculously heavily discounted book is just bonkers.
Perhaps Microsoft should come back to the revenues in a year from now and see how Halo 3, or the entire Halo franchise for that matter, is standing up then. I suspect it would not even be in the same country, let alone ballpark. The Harry Potter books have sold hundreds of millions of copies and generated revenues estimated to be in excess of $5 billion. The movie franchise has made much the same in bottom line terms.
Is Halo 3 really a Harry Potter beater?
No. It is a great game though by all accounts and perhaps Microsoft should have been content with just announcing it as the fastest selling, biggest grossing launch title in the history of computer gaming. That still sounds pretty impressive, without having to get into a fight with the boy wizard.
Now that's a movie I would pay good money to see: Harry Potter and the Jovian Moons Campaign…