Diablo 3 Release Date — Everything We Know
March 9, 2012: Jay Wilson states that Diablo 3 will launch without PvP, and that Blizzard is “counting down the days until [they're] ready to announce a release date.”
Analysis: While this doesn’t mean an announcement is only a few days away, it does suggest we’re less than a month away from the big reveal. Blizzard is still on track for a Q2 release.
March 2, 2012: Jay Wilson states that, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not even close” and 10 being “imminent,” Diablo 3′s release date announcement is a 9.
Rumors suggest Blizzard will announce the release date at CeBIT 2012, which runs from March 6 to 10.
An Italian website states that it received information that Diablo 3′s release date would be April 17. Jay Wilson states that he “cannot debunk or confirm” the rumor.
Analysis: CeBIT 2012 has come and gone, without a release date announcement. The April 17th date is unlikely, given Blizzard has stated retailers will only learn the date once everyone else does. However, we are only weeks away from the official announcement. Blizzard is still on track for a Q2 release.
February 29, 2012: After Blizzard lays off 600 employees, CEO Mike Morhaime states that Diablo 3′s release will remain largely unaffected and that “exciting news” regarding the game’s release date will be shared in the coming weeks.
Analysis: “The coming weeks” would be interpreted by most to mean within the next two months. We are still on track for a Q2 release.
February 9, 2011: Activision Blizzard Fourth Quarter Calendar 2011 Conference Call reveals Diablo 3′s release date is targeted for Q2 2012.
Analysis: This arguably still fits “early 2012,” if you’re willing to stretch the definition. Blizzard has always been truthful to its shareholders in these conference calls, therefore it is same to assume that Diablo 3 will release no later than June 30.
January 9, 2011: A banner appears in a Best Buy with a digital display counting down to a February 1 release date for Diablo 3. The store manager admits to not knowing the true release date and takes down the banner.
Diablo 3 community manager Bashiok affirms that Diablo 3 does not have a release date, and that any store or person claiming otherwise is guessing. He stipulates Blizzard probably won’t end beta until shortly before release, and that the company has traditionally tried to announce release dates about two months before release. He reiterates that Blizzard’s official target is still “early 2012.”
Analysis: Bashiok has provided us with two key pieces of information: that the end of beta will signal an imminent release, and that we can expect a two month buffer between a release date announcement and the actual release date.
December 1, 2011: Diablo 3 Community Manager Bashiok states that retailers will find out the release date at the same time the rest of us do.
Analysis: We have definite confirmation that retailer releases dates are never to be trusted.
October 25, 2011: A credible source leaks information from August 17 stating Blizzard was targeting a January 17 release date.
Analysis: This leak is not necessarily debunked. Blizzard has undoubtedly had certain release dates in mind throughout the game’s development, and has clearly had to push those back. The leaked information, if correct, was outdated.
September 23, 2011: Blizzard reveals via press release an “early 2012″ release date.
Analysis: “Early 2012″ is vague enough to mean within the first month, first quarter, or even first half of 2012. Blizzard was deliberate in its choice of a vague window.
September 20, 2011: The Diablo 3 closed beta goes live.
Analysis: Blizzard betas typically last 4-6 months, which means the D3 beta would normally end between January 20 and March 20. It is still possible for the beta to end by March 20. Jay Wilson allegedly said via Twitter that the beta would begin “about six months” prior to the game’s release. It is highly unlikely that Diablo 3 will be released by March 20. The original tweet cannot be found.
September 7, 2011: The Friends & Family beta begins; Diablo 3 Community Manager Bashiok states closed beta is “very close.”
Analysis: The closed beta went live 13 days later; Bashiok’s information is proven correct.
August 19, 2011: Blizzard game director Jay Wilson states the beta likely won’t go live in August, but it shouldn’t be too long after.
Analysis: The beta didn’t go live in August, but rather in late September. By some definition of “too long after,” Wilson was truthful.
August 3, 2011: Activision Blizzard Second Quarter Calendar 2011 Results Conference Call reveals that Blizzard cannot commit to a 2011 release date.
Analysis: Blizzard was truthful to its shareholders and did not release Diablo 3 in 2011.
August 1, 2011: Battle.net forums MVP and DiabloFans.com administrator claims the external beta will go live by September 30, and that if all goes well with the beta, a 2011 release for the game is a real possibility.
Analysis: While the source was reputable, we already knew that Blizzard was targeting a Q3 launch for the D3 beta. If we are to believe his second claim, then all did not go well with the beta — which may be evidenced by the massive changes to core game systems Blizzard has been making up and until weeks ago.
June 30, 2011: Alleged Diablo 3 beta tester leaks info. Claims Blizzard is targeting August for external beta testing.
Analysis: While this leak proved more trustworthy than the April 14 leak, the Diablo 3 beta did not launch in August. Either Blizzard pushes back the beta release, or this leak was simply meticulous about doing his homework.
May 9, 2011: Activision Blizzard First Quarter Calendar 2011 Results Conference Call reveals that Blizzard is targeting a Q3 2011 launch for Diablo 3 external beta testing.
Analysis: Blizzard was truthful to its shareholders and met the target window.
April 14, 2011: Alleged ex-Blizzard employee tells all about Diablo 3. Claims that we can expect a beta announcement at BlizzCon 2011.
Analysis: While the entirety of the supposed ex-employee’s allegations were highly suspect, the final nail in the coffin for this rumor came when the Diablo 3 beta launched prior to BlizzCon 2011. His info mostly consisted of regurgitated facts we already knew combined with guesswork and popular theories.
April 5, 2011: Alleged Diablo 3 box art is leaked by Polish retailer; Game Front proves that it is a fake.
Analysis: Retailers will use duplicitous methods to generate hype and acquire pre-orders, including listing false release dates and creating fake cover art.
When do you think Diablo 3 will be released? If I had to bet on a date, my guess would be June 26, 2012.