More than 10,000 retailers in the United States alone are expected to open their doors at midnight on September 25 to begin selling Halo 3.
Halo 2 sold 2.4 million copies and earned up to US 125 million in its first 24 hours on store shelves. Microsoft expects Halo 3's launch to shatter its predecessor's day-one entertainment sales record.
In what Microsoft has dubbed the "Unite to Fight" launch week, regional events will be held at retailers in locations including New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Miami, allowing gamers a chance to win merchandise and play the game with local celebrities.
In the US, Best Buy will be making Xbox LIVE Gold free for everyone during the first three days of Halo 3's availability. From September 25 through September 27, everyone with an Xbox 360 and a broadband connection can become an Xbox LIVE Gold member and experience Halo 3 online.
Microsoft will be giving away 8,000 points during this free Xbox LIVE period to 144 randomly-selected people. Those winners will also receive a chance to win one of two grand prizes, which include a Halo-themed Pontiac GXP Street Edition valued at USD 28,000 and a Samsung home theater entertainment system valued at USD 3,499.97.
Pontiac itself has teamed up with Microsoft to provide 1,000 lucky winners a copy of Halo 3 before it's available in stores with their "First to Own" promotion. Meanwhile, at the NASCAR Dover 400 on September 23rd, David Stremme will be driving the number 40 Target/Halo 3 inspired race car.
Microsoft has also announced Game with Fame sessions during the first week of Halo 3's launch, allowing gamers to play against their favorite actors, bands, and sports stars over Xbox LIVE. Bungie's Halo 3 development team will also be on Xbox LIVE during launch week, giving gamers a chance to play against the talent behind the game.
Finally, a new Xbox 360 Halo 3 theme and gamerpic will be available for Xbox LIVE Gold members only during launch week.