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Halo 3 Launch Gets Goldman Sachs Predictions, Major PR Push

With Halo 3's midnight launch rapidly approaching, Goldman Sachs has said it expects the game to contribute up to $220 million to the firm's revenue, partly thanks to Grand Theft Auto IV's delay, with Microsoft's PR head comparing the debut
On the evening of its release, Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar has issued a research note, picked up by GameSpot, indicating she expects Halo 3 to ship 4.2 million copies into the retail channel by month's end. She added that sales of the game could reach $50 million more than an initial $170 million revenue prediction to Microsoft's fiscal first quarter, which ends just five days after the game's launch. "We expect Tuesday's Halo 3 release to be a positive for the stock, along the same lines as Halo 2, whose strong results propelled Microsoft's stock to a 2% gain on November 9, 2004," Friar's note said, citing higher average sale prices and reduced competition due to the delay of Grand Theft Auto IV's launch as contributing factors. Indeed, the company's shares ended up 43 cents (around 1.5%) at $29.08. The much-vaunted Halo 3 launch has been supported by a major global Microsoft PR push that began over a year ago in May of 2006. “Our great challenge was to convince the broad press that it was something to be celebrated at a cultural level,” David Hufford, global director of Xbox PR, told PRWeek. He also told the outlet that Microsoft wants the Halo 3 launch to be as significant a part of the entertainment industry as a Harry Potter book release. Friar is not the first analyst to peg Halo 3 as a highly disruptive market force; IGN's GamerMetrics predicted sales of the game could reach 4 million units in the US alone within its first two months on the market, and could drive "significant" Xbox 360 sales in the holiday season. Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter suggested Halo 3 could sell 3 million units in its first 12 days, potentially putting Xbox 360 sales in excess of 400,000 in the month of September. Finally, earlier this month, Lazard analyst Colin Sebastian forecasted Halo 3 sales at $200 million in what he called "one of the largest and most successful product launches in digital entertainment." Actual early Halo 3 sales are expected to debut in early October via NPD's game charts, if Microsoft chooses not to disclose them before then.

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