Hoping to make entertainment history, Microsoft plans to release the latest video game in its hit Halo franchise tomorrow.

The Halo series, set in a future when humanity is battling a hostile alien race, has sold more than 14.8 million copies since its debut in 2001, making it one of the most successful game franchises. The last major game in the series, Halo 2, set a record in 2004 for first-day sales of any entertainment product, generating more than $125 million in the United States in its first 24 hours.

Microsoft and major game retailers expect to surpass that mark beginning at midnight tomorrow, when more than 10,000 stores across the country will open to sell Halo 3. In London, authorities have banned official “midnight madness” events amid fears of unruly crowds.

Halo 3 is widely expected to be the top-selling game of the year for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console, the sole machine on which the game can be run. Halo 3 is also expected to drive users toward the company’s Xbox Live Internet service. The only other release that had been expected to compete with Halo 3 this coming holiday season was Take-Two’s Grand Theft Auto IV, often called G.T.A., but that game was recently delayed until next year.

The Halo series has been a cornerstone of Microsoft’s entry into the entertainment business. Perhaps nothing is more important to the company’s bid to control the world’s digital living rooms than the game’s success. Microsoft has not disclosed how much it cost to make, but industry experts put the figure at $25 million to $40 million.
Full story at(NY Times)