3 Lessons That You Can Learn From the Halo 3 Release

I picked a story from BBC. They report that Halo 3 release date will be on September, which will mean it might be one of the hit selling games in Christmas time as well. Halo 2 sold 2.5 million copies (that’s more than $125 millions) on the release day. Reuters mentions that Halo 3 is expected to sell even more. There’s 3 interesting elements business-wise:

Timing and Christmas sales
The big boys will fight to get their AAA games in boxes before the Santa Claus arrives. Those games that win the Christmas sales, are going to be big time winners – at least in the AAA world. I assume that Christmas sales are important for hardcore titles, although they might have little less meaning for casual titles. Casual titles can be sold for years, while hardcore titles life span can be much shorter (naturally there can be exceptions to this rule).

The importance of the brand
Halo is a Brand with a capital B. Any game that sells 125 million within the first 24 hours is definitely doing something right. Microsoft is doing a wise move to leverage the brand by bringing the sequel in a form of Halo 3. Sequels sell.

Pricing and different editions
Did you know that Halo wasn’t priced just like “normal games”? Halo will have the $60 price tag, but in addition it will have 2 more expensive editions. A something called “limited edition” for $70, and a “legendary edition” for $130. These prices are for the US market and don’t know if these special editions are available elsewhere, but what’s important is the lesson about pricing: your product could have different editions with different prices. Can you imagine having special editions for casual games? Perhaps the typical version could cost $20. The special/legendary edition could cost anything from $30-50 and would come with additional material (such as mouse pads with the game logo, game T-shirts, sound tracks or anything).

Timing, brand, pricing: three important elements in releasing and selling games.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Sarcasm: Yeah, it can have lots of online game time played, and novels (lots of games have them), but that, in my opinion, doesn’t makes it better.

    Weapons are not surprising nor new. Graphics are behind lots of other titles, and I don’t like the plot. And being so anticipated, in Spain Bungie/Microsoft launched it translated to mexican, which for non-spanish speakers may be nothing serious, but mexican tone and accent are quite different from spain’s. Spanish people can remember Halo 2 as the worst translated/localized game in history.

    I don’t want everyone to follow my opinion, actually Halo 2 if I’m correct has been the most pre-ordered game in history, and I have friends who love it.

    Maybe if I had just played XBox and not PC I would have had a different point of view… but it’s not the case.

    I don’t want to make this post’s comments a “flame war” so if I got you angry I’m sorry, I should have been more polite.

    Note: I still play Quake 1, it’s the first game I always install on any new pc.

  2. i agree with Kartones, Halo is such a bad title that there has only been 700million hours of online gameplay logged. Today, people still play “great games” such as unreal on a ritualistic daily basis (unlike “bad games”) while enjoying themselves for every… minute of it. only a mentally disturbed individual lacking thumbs would want to play a game such as Halo because of its week story line and bad graphics (its not like halo has 4 novels out or anything). as i look back on my reply i wonder why it is that i am posting on a topic that i do not care about. its not like i had to research to find this article, and then click on the link and read it, and then have the patients to write about my intamite feelings against halo and its judgement lacking followers.

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  4. Kartones, well – it’s true that “best games” are not necessarily the “best selling” games. I believe it was mentioned in the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books that he is “best selling author”, not “best writing author”. Those two can be very different.

    And of course different people like to play different games.

  5. Well, I think there’s a fourth lesson we can learn from the Halo series:
    · You can sell a bad game better than a good one.

    With correct marketing, PR and a semi-desert market (XBox didn’t had too much FPS when Halo appeared, while PC had lots of better FPS), you can turn coal into gold :)

    Halo it’s one of the worst FPS I’ve ever played. When I played it on PC was like “uhmm, what’s this?! a bad Unreal-clone”. Even the main character name is stupid… I don’t know how this game sells so well.. except for the reasons I’ve said.

    Anyway, it’s just my opinion, but Unreal and Unreal 2 had better plots and graphics.

    I still remember when Bungie started it as a PC/Mac game. They did the best decision, going into an unexplored territory, the land of XBox ;)

  6. GBGames: Yeh, too much might confuse people. Luckily that’s not the case in casual game space. Just look at today’s casual games. How many comes with a special edition? Umm… zero?

    Wazoo: Good one :)

  7. Actually, when I was thinking about how I would release my games a year or so ago, I thought about offering a “Developer’s Edition” which includes the source code to the game.

    Along the same lines, fast food restaurants that offer three sizes will find that the middle one sells more. If you go into Wendy’s, you can get a single burger, a double burger, or a triple burger. No one buys the triple (except me once, because I wanted to see if I can handle it. I did.), but now the thinking is, “Huh…I’m not hungry enough for a triple, but I could eat a double.”

    Contrast it with restaurants that only offer a single and a double. Now if you’re not that hungry, you’ll consistently buy the single.

    It goes from “Do I want to buy something here?” to “Hmm, which one do I want to buy?”

    Of course, offering too much choice might just confuse the costumer. See Vista and Linux distributions.

    I wonder how many special edition copies of games get sold compared to the basic package. Do they see more people buying the basic edition when they offer a special edition?

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