Halo 3 approaching 10 million sales

In many respects 2007 would appear to have been a somewhat bumper year for Microsoft as its first-to-retail Xbox 360 console finally took a firm grasp of the software market with a steady stream of hit titles.

Yet, while the likes of BioShock, Mass Effect, and Halo 3 have all gathered in admirable critical acclaim on the ‘console exclusivity’ front, it’s the key financial aspects of 2007 that the American software giant has been most keen to stress this week.

Moreover, although Halo 3 has thus far missed out on any notable ‘Game of the Year’ awards, Microsoft now reveals that Bungie’s phenomenally popular FPS finale has sold in excess of 8.1 million copies worldwide since the game was released on Sept. 25 of 2007. While not quite as potent at retail as Halo 3, BioWare’s sci-fi epic Mass Effect has already amassed unit sales of 1.6 million in the six weeks it has been available, says Microsoft.

And, from a hardware standpoint, Microsoft boasts that is has now sold more than 17.7 million Xbox 360 consoles since its launch at the tail end of 2005, while 360 owners spend more on software, peripherals, and accessory items than users of any other gaming platform. Also, according to recent NPD data, the Xbox 360 is presently experiencing a record software attachment rate of 6.9.

However, without focusing on the opening year’s performance of the Nintendo Wii (which puts the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to shame), it’s also worth noting that Microsoft does not puff out its corporate chest regarding the reliability of those 17.7 million consoles.

With the infamous Red Ring of Death (RRoD) responsible for a great many Xbox 360 failures during 2007 (including M&C Gaming’s previously faithful launch unit), Microsoft’s hardware remains something of an uncertain bet when perusing the options at retail.

And that’s a worrying issue focused on in a recent Joystiq report that reveals all but one of the gaming blog’s current eight staff members have now been struck down by terminal RRoD, disc drive collapse, or other hardware-defined catastrophes that have left their consoles as little more than expensive paper weights, bookends, or draught excluders.

Although still professing their love for the 360’s impressive software, the beleaguered chaps at Joystiq are forced to concede that: “the Xbox 360 is the most defective console ever manufactured.”

Will the rumoured ‘Ultimate’ model and its 65nm architecture and improved ventilation fan make a difference? Is it too little too late more than two years after the console’s initial retail launch? Watch this space.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.