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Blizzard Entertainment has announced that Diablo III, the latest installment in their hugely-popular action RPG franchise, won’t hit shelves until 2012. “With every game we make, the temptation is always very strong to launch as soon as possible. However, we didn’t put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready,” said Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime.
“The beta test is going very well, and we look forward to making the most of the extra time we’re taking to deliver an experience that lives up to our vision for the game and the expectations of our players. Next year is going to be an incredibly busy one for Blizzard, and we hope an incredibly fun one for Blizzard gamers,” he continued.
The announcement was not entirely unexpected, as Blizzard is notorious for the slow pace of their development process. Although Diablo III was announced in June 2008, its designers have adamantly refused to tie themselves to a release date, telling impatient gamers that the game will be released “when it’s done.”
Previously, Blizzard had hinted that they were hoping to release the game by the end of 2011. However, many fans began to question whether they would meet that target when the closed beta test didn’t begin until September 20.
Furthermore, feedback received during the initial stages of the beta test have convinced Blizzard to make some significant changes to the game, including a major overhaul for the Demon Hunter, one of the game’s five playable character classes. During the course of its extended development cycle, Diablo III has weathered a number of controversies.
Shortly after its initial unveiling, a vocal group of fans protested against the new art direction. They claimed that it was too colorful and too reminiscent of Blizzard’s other hit franchise, World of Warcraft. Despite howls of outrage on fansite forums, Blizzard refused to change direction.
More recently, Blizzard has caught flak for requiring players to be connected to the internet at all times while playing Diablo III, even when playing the game’s single-player mode. Additionally, they announced that players will now be able to purchase (and sell) in-game items for cash via an auction house, giving rise to claims that players who are willing to spend top dollar for items will end up having an unfair advantage.
In spite of the controversy, Diablo III remains one of today’s most-anticipated games, and the response to the beta has been overwhelmingly positive.