Microsoft is to replace the Halo 3 discs that were already scratched when users purchased them.

On its Xbox 360 website, Microsoft said an Xbox Disc Replacement Program will replace Halo 3 Limited Edition Game Discs and Essentials Discs at no charge through to 1 February, 2008, but only for Xbox 360 console owners in countries where Xbox is sold at authorised retail locations.

Microsoft released the highly anticipated Halo 3 Xbox 360 game on Tuesday at midnight, but some users found that their game discs were already scratched upon purchase.

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Some attributed the scratches to the company's packaging of the discs, which did not keep them in place. Users did not report any performance issues with the scratched discs.

To get a replacement disc, people who purchased Halo 3 and meet the programme requirements can fill out and print a programme form and send it to Microsoft. They should receive a replacement disc in about two weeks’ time, according to the website.

Halo 3 is the latest instalment in the critically praised and enormously popular first-person shooter series developed by Bungie Studios. Microsoft said it had more than 1 million preorders of Halo 3 before its release this week, and fans lined up Monday outside of a New York Best Buy retail outlet for the game's launch hours before the game went on sale. The company said last night that Halo 3 has broken the US sales record for a new video game by earning an estimated $170m in its first 24 hours on sale.