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Microsoft: Gamers shelled out nearly $300 million on 'Halo 3' in first week on sale

REDMOND, Wash. — Gamers around the globe dropped nearly $300 million on "Halo 3" in the week since the first-person shooter for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 console debuted, the company said Thursday.

Microsoft also said that in the week after the Sept. 25 launch, Xbox 360 console sales "nearly tripled" from the weekly average reported before the game hit store shelves, according to initial reports from retailers worldwide.

More than 2.7 million people have logged on to Microsoft's online service, Xbox Live, to collectively play 40 million hours of "Halo 3" with other gamers, Microsoft said.

"Halo 3," the much-anticipated last installment of a trilogy, was developed by Microsoft-owned Bungie Studios.

Microsoft said sales hit $170 million in the game's first 24 hours on sale in the U.S., surpassing "Spider-Man 3," which grossed $151 million in its opening weekend. "Halo 3" sells for at least $60 a copy, while the average price of a movie ticket in 2006 was $6.55, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

Microsoft is also selling a version of "Halo 3" with a disk of bonus features for $70, and one packaged in a replica of protagonist Master Chief's helmet for $130.