The video-game industry can exhale. For now.

Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Halo: Reach raked in worldwide sales of $200 million during its Tuesday debut. This will be the last game in the series from developer Bungie, which moves on to develop a new franchise that it will distribute through Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) across several different platforms. Microsoft, meanwhile, retains the rights to Halo.

Video-game companies have been in a funk since early last year, and this release could be coming at a time of revival for the industry. Gaming retailer GameStop (NYSE: GME) announced a $300 million share-buyback program on Wednesday and will spend $200 million to pay down its debt.

But even though there's a lot of buzz over upcoming motion-based controllers and 3-D games, I'm not sold. This space gets awfully quiet these days between major releases. There are just too many competing diversions for our very limited leisure time.

Briefly in the news
Let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) is putting "tall" brews -- the cheapest of its three standard coffee sizes -- back on the drive-through menu. The java giant got scalded for the practice that was essentially trying to upsell hurried patrons at the locations that offer drive-through windows.
  • Stories began to circulate claiming that Yahoo! could generate as much as $11 billion by selling its 39% stake in Yahoo!'s Alibaba Group. CEO Carol Bartz shot down the notion.
  • Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) reiterated its 2010 guidance, calling for revenue of $2.8 billion and adjusted EBITDA of $575 million. It may as well play Aretha Franklin's "Respect" nonstop on one of its channels, since that's just what the satellite-radio operator has earned.
  • Silicon Valley's Mercury News reports that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is about to give distressed print publishers a lifeline, by offering a platform for digital subscriptions through the iPad. Apple is selling roughly a million iPads a month, so watch this space.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple, Activision Blizzard, and Starbucks are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard, a diagonal call position on Microsoft, and writing covered calls on GameStop. The Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield-wiper fluid when trying to look back. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.