Halo gunning for Hollywood

News that’s guaranteed to confuse almost anyone over the age of 40 – video game Halo 3 has racked up more than £84m in sales in its first 24 hours on release, with people queuing in the street for hours for a copy of the ‘fantasy-science fiction shoot-em-up’. Even more confusing to us more mature types, the surging games industry is now worth £19bn.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Previous Halo games have already sold more than 15m copies globally – making it the most profitable video game franchise in history. Just 24 hours after its US launch on Monday, sales of the new instalment had hit $125m. By comparison, the box office record-breaking Spider-Man 3 film made $151m in its first three days. Good news for its publisher Microsoft, which is hoping the £49.99 game will help in its console battle against rivals Sony and Nintendo.

This is certainly a long way from the early years of the home computer. Back when blockbusters like ET were smashing box office records, it was only kids and nerds who even batted an eyelid over new £1.99 games releases for the ZX Spectrum (which is hardly surprising with the state of the ads.)

Nowadays, however, the whole entertainment industry is a lot more blurred. TV shows appear on websites, phones are mp3 players, and the soundtracks to games such as Grand Theft Auto come out on CD. This writer pities his poor grandmother, who even 20 years ago was struggling to comprehend how the little men in the Commodore game Golden Axe got from the cassette tape to the TV screen.

When it comes to the silver screen, films have increasingly come to look like video games, with the predominance of flashy CGI allowing humans to perform impossible stunts and share the screen with dinosaurs and cartoon characters. In this climate, it should come as no surprise that consumers should turn towards games – themselves increasingly realistic, and something in which they can participate rather than having to shut up and sit through. Call us old fashioned, but with the controllers containing such a mind-boggling plethora of buttons and switches, it does raise the issue of how one is expected to hold one’s popcorn.

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