Halo 2 Variant Guide

Written by Dan Gomez

November 25, 2022



Halo 2 had one of the biggest launches in entertainment history, selling 2.4 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release. The game went on to sell over 6 million copies in the United States alone. Of those 6 million copies, we’ve been able to identify 9 major print runs.

Whenever there’s a change in printing in first party Microsoft games, there’s typically an amendment made to the date code. Halo 2 is a bizarre example where the date code never changed throughout all of the print runs despite their being packaging differences that show the game had been reprinted. This guide covers the packaging differences that define each of the variants.

Limited Collector’s Edition Steelbook

For only $5 more, gamers could take home the Collector’s Edition steelbook instead of the standard edition. Luckily this one is fairly straight forward, as there are no known sub-variants of the Collector’s Edition steelbook.

DNSB – X10 Xbox Live Trial Sticker

This is the standard edition of Halo 2 that released on launch day. It’s distinguishable by the the orange “Do Not Sell Before” sticker, and Xbox Live trial sticker. Also known as “Street date sticker” or “Release date security seal (RDSS),” these stickers were intended to prevent retailers from selling the game before its intended release date. These copies bare the earliest packaging features, and were produced and sold at the same time as the collector’s edition, therefore are also considered to be first print.

X10 Xbox Live Trial Sticker

These copies ceased to contain the DNSB stickers, which likely means they were produced and sold sometime after launch. The Xbox Live trial stickers were still applied to these copies. The “X10” refers to the Microsoft part code prefix. As we’ll see in the next printing, we can use these prefixes to gauge which component of a game may have come first. If we drill in a little further, we can see that the Xbox Live trial offer is valid from 8/01/04 to 03/31/05. Keep this in mind for the next print coming up!

X11 Xbox Live Trial Sticker

As I mentioned previously, Microsoft part code prefixes can help determine the print order of a specific component. The previous printing has an “X10” prefix while this printing has a prefix of “X11.” Let’s take a closer look at that offer expiration date. If you recall the offer on the X10 sticker ran from 8/04/04 to 3/31/05. The offer on this X11 sticker runs from 8/01/04 to 6/30/05, extending the offer an additional 3 months. I believe an additional run of Halo 2 were produced at the tail end of the X10 offer window, with the new extended offer window.

Original Xbox Case

By this time, the Xbox Live trial stickers were no longer being applied to the packaging. This tell us these copies were likely produced after the X11 offer expiration date of 6/30/05. We call this print “Original Xbox Case” because the focus now shifts to the types of cases used rather than stickers used. Original Xbox cases are dark green and are slightly transparent.

Platinum Case

The platinum Xbox case is seen as a precursor to the Platinum Hits series, certain games received small print runs with standard black label cover artwork, but instead of the typical dark green case, it would come packaged in a platinum case. We this is done for other games that would eventually receive true Platinum Hits releases.

Xbox 360 Case

These cases are easily distinguishable from original Xbox cases, especially in-hand. There are a couple of events we can use to try to determine when these were being produced and sold. Given this print run utilizes the 360 case, we can use the launch of the 360 as a base (Nov. 2005). We can also use the fact that the true Platinum Hits release hit store shelves in 2008. Meaning this print was produced sometime between Late 2005 and 2008, but likely closer to 2008 given this print comes after the “Platinum Hits Case.”

Platinum Hits – No Country, Made in Mexico, and Made in Puerto Rico

The “No Country” and “Made in Mexico” platinum hits releases remain somewhat unknown in terms of the order in which they were printed. The seventh and eight print designation is arbitrary at this time but I’m fairly certain the “Made in Puerto Rico” Platinum Hits release is dead last considering many late print Xbox 360 games were made in Puerto Rico. Note that these also come in green 360 case counterparts but are not recognized as major variants but rather variances in packaging that don’t relate to a timeline.

Microsoft Employee Copy

Microsoft Company Store copies of Halo 2 were sold exclusively to employees at the company store. These copies had the outer seal removed and were applied with a company store sticker directly to the case itself. This practice prevented employees from returning the product. While we do not consider these to be variants per se, we do believe these are special and are noted on our labels.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide and have learned something new. Now for the fun part, pop reports!

*Census date: 10/31/22