Update: Microsoft announces Halo 3 beta

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft and Bungie Studios today said that the first multiplayer public beta of Halo 3 will be released in spring of next year.

According to Microsoft, the final version of "Halo 3 will provide a wealth of technical and gameplay advancements." Improvements will include "high-definition visuals; enhanced artificial intelligence; an advanced real-time lighting engine; and new weapons, characters and challenges," the company said.

Halo and especially Halo 2 are among the most successful videogames ever published. The first two games have sold a combined 14.7 million copies, resulting in sales of more than $700 million. Microsoft said that more than 800 million hours of Halo multiplayer games have been logged through Xbox Live so far. Halo 2 grossed $125 million in sales within the first 24 hours after launch and has attracted more than four billion online matches since its release in November 2004.

Microsoft said that it will also air a "special 60-second" commercial during ESPN's "Monday Night Football." The ad promises provide viewers a "unique and compelling look at Master Chief and the world of Halo 3."