Halo Reach's first day sales fail to topple Modern Warfare 2's record

Halo: Reach can reportedly claim the second best launch day in gaming history

As expected, Halo: Reach has the makings of another Microsoft revenue juggernaut. The sci-fi prequel about a group of super-soldiers defending a besieged planet reportedly 'reached' into the pockets of gamers and pulled out a record $200 million in the opening 24 hours of sales.

That's pretty impressive, and of course Microsoft wants to help us glean just how impressive by stacking that figure against launch numbers for the whole of the U.S. entertainment biz, so far, in 2010. Three-day opening weekend totals for movies like Iron Man 2, Alice in Wonderland, and Toy Story 3? All in Halo: Reach's rearview mirror, according to Microsoft's claims.

A shame, then, that news aggregators like Google ridiculously lump video games in with so-called 'sci-tech' stories, not in 'entertainment', where they rightly belong.

In any event, Microsoft is understandably crowing.

"'Halo: Reach' is the biggest game Microsoft has ever released, and its launch has already surpassed every game, movie, and entertainment launch this year," said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, in a press statement. "Every major installment has grown in scope and popularity, firmly cementing the 'Halo' franchise as one of the most popular entertainment properties in the world over the past decade."

Spencer's claims aren't entirely accurate. Halo 3: ODST, the last installment prior to Reach, took a full two weeks to reach $125 million in sales. While its overall sales -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million copies worldwide -- were impressive, they never came anywhere near Halo 3's 8 million copies. I guess Spencer considers ODST a 'non-installment', a position fans disappointed by its brief six-hour solo campaign could probably endorse.

If Microsoft was hoping, however faintly, to bump Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 from its perch as the all-time opening sales record-holder, it had to settle for second fiddle. Modern Warfare 2 pulled in $310 million at its launch last year off record-shattering sales of 4.7 million copies. To put that in perspective, Halo 3 took a full week to hit $300 million back in 2007, grabbing only $170 million in first day sales (a record at the time).

It'll be interesting to see whether Medal of Honor or Call of Duty: Black Ops, both releasing later this year, have a shot at one-upping Halo: Reach, or coming anywhere near Modern Warfare 2's numbers. I'd wager 'maybe' on the former, and 'not a chance' on the latter.

Related articles:

In pictures: Halo Reach midnight launch party, Sydney

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Matt Peckham

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