Microsoft's "Halo 3" video game set an opening-day U.S. sales record of $170 million, outdoing any video game or movie debut and giving the company's money-losing entertainment unit a strong boost toward profitability.
Alien-shooting fans also surged onto Microsoft's Xbox Live online service. More than a million members took up virtual arms in "Halo 3" in the first 20 hours on Sept. 25, the day the game debuted, Microsoft said on Wednesday.
"Halo 3" easily surpassed its predecessor, 2004's "Halo 2," which racked up $125 million on the first day. The $60 game also beat the $59 million U.S. opening-day movie box office record, set by "Spider-Man 3".
"$170 million is a great number but the real significance is the 1 million online players." CNBC's Jim Goldman said. "2.5 million xBox users haven't traded up to xBox 360. They were waiting for this title. The internet number signifies that the trade-up number to the online-enabled xBox360 is going to be huge. This becomes as much a hardware story as it is a software story this holiday season for Microsoft. These numbers are stellar."
The game is also key to Microsoft's quest to widen its lead over rival Sony in the battle for industry dominance of the current generation of game machines.