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Halo 3: Microsoft's billion dollar bonanza

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It was obvious from the refreshments being served at the Halo 3 launch party last night - Mountain Dew, potato chips and pizza, just who the core market for Microsoft's biggest franchise is - teenage boys.
And they were there in numbers, lounging on beanbags as their nimble fingers darted over their Xbox controllers, their minds already hardwired to the Halo way after countless hours of playing the previous two instalments both offline and over Xbox live.
But I was interested in the girls. I wanted to see how many of them were into the whole Halo craze. There were plenty there and they propped themselves on the beanbags watching intently, but generally letting the trigger-happy boys take the controls. Microsoft has apparently tried to widen the appeal of Halo 3 to increase the potential pot of cash it can make from the last installment in the trilogy.
The economics of the game are fascinating. This LA Times article takes a very detailed look at the type of profit Microsoft is likely to make from Halo 3, which is estimated to have cost around US$60 million to make. Revenue for the game is estimated to reach US$700 million ($938 million) and with a profit margin of around 90 per cent on the game, Microsoft will pocket upwards of half a billion dollars, US dollars.
In a year that should have been massive for Microsoft - it launched its Windows Vista operating system and debuted its iPod rival in the Zune, it's clear that the stand-out success for the Redmond giant will be the launch of a video game, rather than its core product - Windows, which has got off to a sluggish start or its fledgling music player, which has failed in the face of unyielding competition from Apple.


Halo 3 from the short spell I spent playing it, is a great achievement - not that much fundamentally different from Halo 2, one of the best first-person shooters ever, but with enough new maps, characters guns and plot to keep fans happy. As for Master Chief, I'm yet to find out what happens to him, but I'm sure it will be a Sopranos type ending that leaves the door open for plenty of future missions. After all, it is science fiction, what's to stop you from killing off your lead character when you can simply re-spawn?

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