In all fairness, I wrote this when it happened, but couldn’t share it with you until now.
Whoo! Halo 3 is finally here! Time to relax, sit back, and enjoy the fun and games. I spent four hours last night at the Halo 3 launch event in Manhattan, hanging with Ludacris, watching hundreds of cheering and screaming fans and lots of Microsoft spectacle, and enjoying every damn minute of it. A full report, followed by a ton of photos:
According to Best Buy, they counted 500 shoppers (and a ton of media), each buying an average of 1.5 copies. I saw many, many buyers walking away with the Legendary Edition, with many of the first hundred buyers getting it, or at least the Limited Edition. Some people even walked away with Halo 3 Xbox 360s.
Outside, there were giveaways and sponsorships all over the place. Mountain Dew was passing around shot glasses of Game Fuel, the Halo 3-branded drink, and the crowd was all hyper, actually chanting, “Game! Fuel!” more than they chanted “Halo!” There were signs, a guy in line who came dressed as Master Chief, giveaway shirts from four different companies, giant screens, eight of those spotlights that shoot all the way into the air, giveaway balloon sticks, giveaway wall hangings, giveaway balls and light up balls, and other things.
When the store opened and they let people in, ten at a time, the people outside were cheering, the employees were clapping and cheering, the atmosphere was exhilarating. You didn’t see a fifth as many people, and certainly not this much excitement and pandemonium, at the iPhone launch. Apple may have a hit product, but the Xbox and Halo are becoming the more dynamic, exciting brands, while iPod becomes more of a routine commodity.
Celebrities were inside, being interviewed and chatting with Major Nelson and others of the Xbox crew and playing the game. Mostly, we saw rappers (like Ludacris, Chingy, and Bobby Valentino) and football players from the Jets and Giants.
At 20 minutes to midnight, Mongooses came down the street with UNSC soldiers riding them, followed by a tricked out Halo 3 Hummer. A Master Chief guy (in highly detailed armor) came out to meet the army supply box filled with the ceremonial first copies and escorted them, and the first two guys in line, into the store, and gave them their copies of the hotly anticipated game.
All in all, it was an amazing experience. It’ll be a long time before anyone has a launch as big as this.
Microsoft is claiming 1.7 million pre-orders of the game, which would be $102-$153 million in just pre-orders. Wired is claiming 4 million pre-orders, while Microsoft predicts 3 million copies will be sold besides the pre-orders. Either way, we’re talking bare minimum $200 million in sales the first week, which no one can deny is a freaking amazing tally.
Congratulations, Microsoft. For today, no one can deny that you are, indeed, cool.
Here’s Master Chief handing the first two guys in line their copies of Halo 3. Interestingly, they paid for the more expensive version, but the box only contained the regular version, so I saw these guys asking the PR rep to get them the copy they paid for. I think I heard the rep say they were going to hook them up with other cool stuff.
Here’s Ludacris, there to receive the third copy of the game. Problem is, they forgot to hand him one, so he actually took it from one of the two kids and had to be reminded to give it back before he walked away.
The Chief (the official one, not Jim) poses with the Best Buy employees. The guy with that little sign was walking around with it all night, holding it up and grinning from ear to ear every time a camera was pointed at him.