Gamers Get Their Hands on Halo 2

The release of "Halo 2" is met with long lines. The enormous popularity of the latest version of the Xbox game could cost businesses in lost productivity.

NEW YORK—Cough. Cough. The "Halo Flu" may be striking businesses today. Thats because the long-awaited Version 2 of "Halo" went on sale at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday at 6,500 stores around the United States.

"Halo: Combat Evolved" was the launch title that some argue saved Microsoft Corp.s Xbox game console. Bungie originally unveiled "Halo" in 1999 at Macworld to enormous buzz, but what garnered even more press and fan attention was when Microsoft scooped up the independent developer in 2000. "Halo" had been set to debut on the Mac, but now its developers were joining what many of their fans considered the Dark Side—and "Halo" was going to debut exclusively on the Xbox.

The Xbox and its killer launch title went on sale Nov. 15, 2001, and within four months "Halo" had sold more than 1 million units, making it what Microsoft called "the fastest million-unit seller ever for any next-generation console." That is, until "Halo 2."


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Despite a code leak in mid-October and one store chain in the Midwest breaking the retail date—a quick search on eBay before "Halo 2" went on sale turned up several supposed copies of "Halo 2" and "Halo 2 Limited Collectors Edition"—"Halo 2" is poised to break all video game records. With such a demand for the game, will it affect employee productivity?

According to one Microsoft developer/blogger, it might even affect Microsoft employees.

"Xbox Live is disabled on the corporate network, but assuming it works like the original Halo, System Link games will work between conference rooms so long as they are on the same subnet. As many of the conference rooms sport nice big projectors, I predict the Master Chiefs image will be burned into a few of those by late-November, and a few developers will have improved physiques gained by carrying Xboxes to and from work on a regular basis," the blogger wrote.


Early Tuesday morning, at Toys R Us in Times Square here people lined up around the block, from 45th Street, around the corner and down Broadway to 44th Street, in hopes of getting their hands on the latest version of "Halo." The empty MTV Studios across the street looked depressing compared with the commotion of fans, street teams handing out free Mountain Dew soda and other goodies, and of course the normal foot traffic of Times Square.

One family of three from Trenton, N.J., had been in line since about 8 p.m. Despite being huge "Halo" fans who had played the original together, the family insisted no school or work would be missed to play "Halo 2."

A 22-year-old sanitation worker who had been in line since 2 p.m. was thankful he had the next day off. He said hes played the original "Halo" every day since it came out and finished it about eight times. After finishing the Xbox version, he played and finished the PC version as well. He said he would "stay up all night [tonight playing] until I black out."

Next Page: Fans show their loyalty.