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Destiny hits $500M in sales, marking largest ever launch of a new game franchise

The video game made by the team behind Halo is off to a strong start -- but questions still remain.

Bungie's next big game, Destiny, is selling well so far. Bungie / Activision Blizzard

Destiny has passed its first hurdle: It's racking up strong initial sales.

The new video game asks players to take on the role of a character with other-worldly powers called a "guardian" to help protect humanity. The game was created by Bungie, the game development studio that also created Halo, one of the most successful video game franchises ever made.

There was a lot of hype around Destiny, and not just because it's the first video game to come from Bungie after Halo. The game also attempted to meld two popular genres: large Internet-connected game worlds in which players interact with one another and shooting games.

There were some initial signs of Bungie's success: Destiny is the most preordered new game in history. It has also topped weekly order tracking surveys by industry watcher VGChartz for an almost uninterrupted six months.

Now Activision, the game's publisher, says it's sold $500 million worth of the game to retailers, marking the biggest new game franchise launch in history.

"Since the beginning, we've been confident that our investment and belief in Destiny would pay off. But not many people believed we'd be able to say it did so on day one," said Eric Hirshberg, head of Activision's game publishing arm. "We have more confidence than ever that Destiny will become one of the iconic franchises of this generation, and Activision's next billion dollar brand."

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said the sales exceeded even his bullish expectations for first-day sales. Earlier, he had said he expected the game could sell as many as 10 million units this year if it got good reviews. Now, it appears Activision sold that many units in one day.

"Although it is possible that Activision stuffed the channel, we do not think that outcome is likely," he said in a note to investors, adding that the game will likely exceed his estimates over the next year as well. He now expects sales to reach as high as 18 million units, as opposed to the 15 million units estimated earlier.

"Destiny appears well-positioned to become Activision Publishing's third billion-dollar franchise," he said.