Microsoft’s Bungie Studios announced yesterday that the release date for Halo 3 has been moved up to September 25. Halo 3 is the latest sequel in their massively popular Xbox shoot-em-up series which is truly the game that “built the franchise” for the original Xbox and so there is great interest to see if will pull Xbox 360 sales out of the doldrums.
The idea of an early release is also novel in the game biz and more particularly since last week’s Halo 3 preview left a number of reviewers thinking it needed more work. Regardless, Microsoft is also today launching a multiplayer Halo 3 preview on Xbox Live that will certainly draw adverse commentary if the game is not up to snuff.
Finally, similar to Hollywood movies, Halo has a large tie-in merchandise business and Microsoft kicked it off with a new Halo-themed Zune with Halo content on the drive. I don’t think that will do it for me, but I am intrigued with the $129.99 “legendary edition” that is packaged with a “large metal helmet that looks like the one worn by the game’s protagonist, Master Chief.” Unfortunately, looking at it on Amazon it is apparently not wearable.
Update: Perhaps not surprisingly due to the popular interest, the multiplayer Halo 3 beta test got off to a rocky start.