Halo: A Sales History

by Miles Taven, posted on 01 July 2011 / 25,359 Views

Welcome to a new regular feature here on VGChartz, where we dissect the sales - past, present and future - of the biggest franchises in the industry. Today we'll be breaking down the iconic series that is Halo, with analysis on Pokemon, Gran Turismo and others to come. If you would like to nominate one of your favourite franchises for analysis please leave a comment below; let your voice be heard!

A Brief History

November 15th 2001 and it's a very special day for Microsoft. The Redmond giant launches its first bid in the  games console race and with it, the birth of a new franchise, Halo. Although it very nearly didn't happen, as Halo started out life as an RTS on Apple's Mac. Microsoft, however, saw the potential the Halo franchise had, and that it was important they had that system selling series every console boasts, and bought Bungie. Xbox launched to a luke warm reception, but Halo: Combat Evolved dazzled, and is still to this day the highest rated FPS on any platform. The two became synonymous with each other, and without each other, who knows where either would be today.

Nearly 10 years have passed since that day, and as we look forward to celebrating with Bungie, Microsoft and all the Halo fans around the world, a lot has changed. Whilst the Halo franchise was thriving, with Halo 2 eventually selling to over a third of Xbox owners, the Xbox itself was a heavy burden for Microsoft. Come 2005, only 4 years after the Xbox's inception, the Xbox 360 was born. But wait.... no Halo launch title?! Not even a Halo 2 port to tide fans over. The wait, however, would be worth it, as nearly 2 years after the 360's release, Halo 3 launched to major fanfare, breaking all kinds of records in the process. Since then Microsoft have taken a slightly different route with Halo, deciding to capitalise on the series' popularity. We've had a prequel, a side story and even an RTS, all releasing to fairly positive buzz. Also rather controversially, Bungie decided they wanted to become independent again, with Halo: Reach being their last ever Halo game. 343 Industries was created to carry on the Halo name.

As we approach the 10th anniversary, Microsoft and 343 industries will release a remastered Halo: Combat Evolved, and looking to the future, Halo 4 is just over a year away. We'll be taking a look (and a prediction) at how these two games will sell.

Sales Overview



As you can see from the chart above, Halo's growth as a franchise is game dependant. Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 achieved spectacular sales for a system with lifetime sales of 24 million; over 33% of the userbase bought Halo 2Halo 3 continued the growth Halo 2 achieved, starting out on a base of 11.8 with sales slowing around the 30 million mark. It's important to note that whilst Halo 3's attach rate is just under 20% now, it was around 33% on its 2nd birthday. Halo Wars performed well for an RTS on a console, so its relatively low sales don't indicate any sort of fatigue or decline in the series. Neither does Halo 3: ODST, as a game that started out as an expansion pack, and was priced at a controversial $60, it will still manage over 6 million lifetime, and has an outside shot of overtaking Halo: Combat Evolved .



Halo: Reach is the first mainline game that won't achieve growth over its predecessor. It is currently tracking over 450k ahead, and has maintained that figure over the course of its life so far. Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary should hinder sales, and with Halo 4 only around the corner, launching 1 year earlier than normal for a mainline Halo, Reach's legs will be cut short. That said it should reach around 10.5 million units, possibly 11 million.

Halo CE: Anniversary and Halo 4

First off I'll talk about Anniversary - a bit of a wildcard in that it's a bit hard to judge how it'll do despite there being several Halo games released to draw from. It's a remake, and we haven't seen how they fare on X360, especially one so big. It's a mainline game... but then it isn't. It's very unlikely it'll reach the dizzy heights of Halo 3, but then overall it's a better package than ODST, which only featured firefight as its real hook. Halo CE is a much loved game for Halo fans. In fact, I doubt you could find anybody that doesn't rank Combat Evolved in their top 2 Halo games. It's also $40, which is a big hook in itself. However, it's also going up against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. On the topic of price though, as far as the UK goes Modern Warfare 3 is priced nearly 50% higher than Anniversary, £30 Vs. £55.

If I had to say which game Anniversary was going to mimic sales wise, it would be ODST, although it should slightly outsell it. Overall it's a better package for Halo fans, and $20 cheaper against a game that was considered expensive for what it was worth.

Halo 4, I believe, will be Halo's last outing and last big game to hit the 360. I don't see any more side-stories or remakes of any kind until Halo 5 launches 2 years after the '720' releases in 2013 (this is all speculation of course). If this is the case, however, it'll have a similar life to Halo 2 , but will obviously sell more. Halo: Reach has proven the series isn't yet growing stagnant, and that if the quality is there the fans will put their chips in. Halo 4 will sell beyond 10 million, and may even challenge Halo 3 for the title of best selling Halo.

Total Franchise Sales



If the high end figure becomes a reality, Microsoft will have sold around 50 million Halo games this generation. That's growth of over 230%. Halo is well on its way to becoming a 100 million selling franchise; up there with Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto and Pokemon. The Halo franchise is going from strength to strength and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.


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32 Comments

Machina (on 01 July 2011)

Pretty much agree with your predictions. I'm expecting CEmake to do better than ODST and even Halo but well below all the others, and Halo 4 to be the second highest selling Halo. And a shout out for Halo Wars, easily the best Halo :P


kowenicki (on 01 July 2011)

Nice article... i look forward to adding two sales to this list over the coming 18 months. Halo is a phenomenon.


Jereel Hunter (on 01 July 2011)

If you found "nothing redeeming" in this series, you either didn't play CE back in the day, or rely too heavily on your mouse for targeting. Keep hoping the series dies, and drink in disappointment with each huge release.


Back2TheFuture (on 01 July 2011)

i dont think he ment that like everyone would have known halo peaked at halo 3 but ever since then its been going down in quality and now im scared such a great gaming franchise will be milked and beaten to death why not inovate the games instead of copy and pasting the formula i would i would love a halo set in a different time period or a 3rd person halo game but the releases for halo is becomming smaller and if next gen the 720 becomes to casual all the hardcore nuts will go to ps4 and halo will bomb up


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theshonen8899 (on 02 July 2011)

You've made a successful rebuttal to none of my arguments. What makes Halo great? Is it the retarded space armor? Is it your imaginary girlfriend? The game is bland, and anyone who played shooters instead of sucking their mom's breasts before Halo would know that. That's really what it comes down to here, Halo fans were too young to afford their own computers back then to experience games like Half-Life, Doom, Quake or System Shock. This isn't even related to controller problems, I can play Halo, Gears of War, Killzone, Uncharted, Call of Duty or anything else with a controller just fine. The bottom line is Halo is a cliche game about shooting cliche aliens with cliche guns with a godawful cliche story. Just because it got popular as one of the first console shooters doesn't mean it should be hailed as the second coming when great games like Battlefield or Mass Effect are paving the way to groundbreaking innovations in the shooter genre.


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ManusJustus (on 03 July 2011)

I dont think Halo 4 will outsell Halo 3. Gamers were craving Halo 3 when it came out, but Halo 4 will release with a bunch of sub-par franchise games that came out before it they may have turned people off. Too much of a good thing isn't always good...


Millenium (on 03 July 2011)

Predictions seem bang on to me, i do expect Halo to reach the higher end of the estimates, really depends on how awsome Halo 4 will turn out though. Glad to say i own all 6 of the currently released Halo games. :)


Millenium (on 03 July 2011)

Predictions seem bang on to me, i do expect Halo to reach the higher end of the estimates, really depends on how awsome Halo 4 will turn out though. Glad to say i own all 6 of the currently released Halo games. :)


Michael-5 (on 03 July 2011)

I nominate Forza Motorsport. Every game in the franchise has released 2 years after the last and non bundled sales are grisly exponentially. Many will claim this as the best simulation racing game on consoles. Others to consider: Gears of War, Uncharted, and Mass Effect. BTW, good article, but I think 10.5 million is too little for Halo Reach. That's only 2 million more sales, and doesn't the remake expand Halo: Reaches multiplayer?


Lyrikalstylez (on 01 July 2011)

Im proud to say that I contributed to 4 out of the 6 game sales!! and will continue to be a Halo Fan!! :-)


Seece (on 01 July 2011)

Guilty Spartan, it's likely coming out September, so 14 months


sl4y3r999 (on 01 July 2011)

these predictions seem bang on to me. Also on another note I wonder if another remake or a side story based off something else like one of the books will be a release title for the new xbox. I would love for there to be a halo title at launch it would make the system an instant sale for me. I also have to agree with you that Halo CE does indeed have the best campaign out of all the halo games. Even now I still play it on my xbox 360 and pc from time to time.


GuiltySpartan77 (on 01 July 2011)

HALO 4 is just over a year a way? More like 1 and a half years


Final-Fan (on 01 July 2011)

"as far as the UK goes Modern Warfare 3 is priced nearly 50% higher than Anniversary, £30 Vs. £55" If these prices are correct (an earlier poster said it will be more like 35 vs 45) then it's closer to 100% higher in price! (83%) On the other hand, Anniversary would be almost 50% LOWER in price. (45%)


MANUELF (on 06 July 2011)

I really dont think a remake of a shooter can sell anywhere near as much as the original


hudsoniscool (on 06 July 2011)

nice artice you should do mass effect next


RockMan10 (on 03 July 2011)

Just bought my first Xbox last year, only for the Halo titles. Halo: CE through Halo: Reach, ODST and Wars include. They are all AMAZING. The team works hard and it shows.


Phobos (on 03 July 2011)

Halo is awesome! Good article.


gustave154 (on 03 July 2011)

really good feature article please make more!!!


20happyballs (on 01 July 2011)

I hate it how people keep saying Microsoft is milking Halo. I'm not saying that it isn't true, it's just that I don't see why anyone would have a problem with that. Halo has already become synonymous with the Xbox just like Mario is with Nintendo. Halo helps Microsoft keep their console competitive both directly and indirectly from Halo's influence. Why would a company like Microsoft neglect such an asset. Besides, I think Halo is awesome. Microsoft, keep making more...forget about all those haters.


ROBOTECHHEAVEN (on 01 July 2011)

i agree with the sales figures as to where the future games might sell, i love the halo series. its the reason i bought a xbox back in 2001 and its the very reason, why i to this day am a xbox fan, all due to this series and its ground breaking features and flawless controls, that have been copied so many times since 2001.


yo_john117 (on 01 July 2011)

Great article! Halo is a sales beast!


sl4y3r999 (on 01 July 2011)

these predictions seem bang on to me. Also on another note I wonder if another remake or a side story based off something else like one of the books will be a release title for the new xbox. I would love for there to be a halo title at launch it would make the system an instant sale for me. I also have to agree with you that Halo CE does indeed have the best campaign out of all the halo games. Even now I still play it on my xbox 360 and pc from time to time.


Diog (on 02 July 2011)

"Halo 3: ODST, as a game that started out as an expansion pack, and was priced at a controversial $60". What? Halo 3: ODST no is a expansion Game, is a full game and just a little bit short that Halo 3. The game came with a second disc with ALL Halo 3 maps, plus if you preordered you got a Sgt. Johnson like a playable character in "Firefight". Is a excelent game, sooooooooo underrated, the last mission is incredible. Halo 3: ODST is easily much better that others most popular FPS franchises


fdgerger (on 03 July 2011)

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hjkyukyu (on 02 July 2011)

mod edit


Kai Master (on 02 July 2011)

Wii Fit has an attach rate of 40%, Mario Kart 30% and Halo only 20%... Idem for the Call ofs etc. Remember SMB3 on NES sold 17M on a base of 62M = 27%... Halo is not that successful as we would think... there's been more successful ones (even Golden Eye on N64)...


hatmoza (on 01 July 2011)

Believe it or not Halo 3 was my first 7th console game. I couldn't afford a PS3 back then . I'm not ashamed to say I was broke those days. Anyways, I believe the remake can sell better than that God awful ODST. I plan on getting it myself. As for Halo 4, I dunno. CoD seems to have stolen Halo's thunder.


Comments below voting threshold

Back2TheFuture (on 01 July 2011)

halo CE wont get 5/7 it will get around 4mill lt and halo 4 wont get 12 mill it will either be on the 720 which will end up with a 6m lt due to its small install base or the 360 which will do a bit worse then halo reach


yo_john117 (on 01 July 2011)

Halo 4 won't be on the next box its coming out next year on the 360. And Halo CEA is pretty much guaranteed to sell much more then 4 million.


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krizalidzero (on 01 July 2011)

I seriously... Seriously think all the hype on Halo: Combat Evolved and the good reviews were Microsoft's money on the press' pockets talking. Cause... yeah, the game is decent, but it's not revolutionary, not awesome, becomes quite monotonous and repetitive, character design is terrible, music is quite decent but doesn't sound too good, graphics aren't top notch for it's time, etc..... Not saying that the game is bad, I liked it, but it's not a superb master piece or anything and probably wouldn't sell this much if it wasn't for the corrupted press.


Back2TheFuture (on 01 July 2011)

i made my predicts on halo CE doing pretty poor right now and halo 4 will be on the legg end of 360's console generation so it wont have the legs or time to continue and most likely xbox will stop devolopement because the afterlife of the console generations usually are ps3's strengths but i could be wrong gears is proving me wrong so anything can happen Cocadoodledoo


SecondWar (on 01 July 2011)

You got the UK prices completely wrong. Halo CE Anniversary is retailing for £35, not £30 and £55 is the RRP for MW3. Most places will sell it for £45.


Luckyspunky (on 01 July 2011)

Make it back to PC where it all started!!! Loved it on xbox though, felt right.


theshonen8899 (on 01 July 2011)

I honestly hope this series dies once and for all. As a PC shooter fan I've found absolutely nothing redeeming in this series that I haven't found in previous shooters and the fact that Bungie has left means Halo 4 will just a a walking corpse of Halo. In that respect, not even Halo fans should be buying Halo 4.


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20happyballs (on 02 July 2011)

On paper, Halo is nothing really special. But when I actually play the game, the controls are just so tight and everything just feels right that I can't help but like the game. Bungie's design for the games centered around something they called "30 seconds of fun", in regards to encounters. If you are an avid Halo player, you would definitely learn to appreciate this. IMO, 30 seconds is much better than the 2 seconds modern shooters give.


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20happyballs (on 02 July 2011)

On paper, Halo is nothing really special. But when I actually play the game, the controls are just so tight and everything just feels right that I can't help but like the game. Bungie's design for the games centered around something they called "30 seconds of fun", in regards to encounters. If you are an avid Halo player, you would definitely learn to appreciate this. IMO, 30 seconds is much better than the 2 seconds modern shooters give.


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theshonen8899 (on 02 July 2011)

I've played both HALO and HALO 2 so I'm not speaking out of my ass or just judging it by "paper", they're just mundane games. I'm sure for a console gamer you could applaud the "controls" (even though GoldenEye was really the first to establish good controller FPS controls) but just as a game itself the enemies are derivative, the levels are boring and the story is awful (how many times has this series ended on a cliffhanger again?). As you admitted yourself, Microsoft has been pushing developers to create games not with substance, but high addictive nature. Don't believe me? Read below:

http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html


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