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Diablo fans around the world can finally rejoice! Blizzard Entertainment announced on March 15 that Diablo III will hit stores exactly two months later on May 15.
“After many years of hard work by our development team and months of beta testing by hundreds of thousands of dedicated players around the world, we’re now in the homestretch,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, in a statement uploaded to the company’s website. “We look forward to putting the final polish on Diablo III over the next two months and delivering the ultimate action-RPG experience to gamers worldwide starting on May 15.”
Diablo III will be released for both Windows PCs and Macs. The standard edition will cost $59.99, while the collector’s edition will be $99.99. The collector’s edition includes a range of goodies, including the game’s soundtrack, an art book, a behind-the-scenes DVD/Blu-Ray two-disk set, and 4 GB flashdrive in the form of an in-game artifact called a soulstone. It will also feature bonus content for other Blizzard games, such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft II.
Diablo III’s development cycle has been unusually protracted, even by Blizzard’s notoriously slow standards. Although it was first revealed to the public at the Blizzard World Wide Invitational in Paris on June 28, 2008, most observers believe that the game had already been in development for eight years by that point.
Blizzard North, the division that produced the first two Diablo games, is said to have started on Diablo III shortly after the completion of Diablo II in 2000. But in May 2003, Blizzard North was rocked by the departure of four of its top executives, which set in train a chain of events that ultimately led to the division’s closure in 2005. Blizzard Irvine ultimately decided to scrap all of the previous work on Diablo III and start from scratch. For the next few years, there were occasional rumors about the game’s development. While Blizzard maintained that the Diablo franchise was not dead, it was not until 2008 that the game’s existence was publicly confirmed.
Back when the game was announced, few people expected that it would take four more years before it would hit store shelves. Almost from the get-go, the game was controversial. Everything from the art style to the in-game chat functions have been criticized by fans. Of course the seemingly glacial pace of the development process did not do much to calm fan anger, either. Through it all, Blizzard clung tenaciously to their vision for the game, promising fans that the finished product would be phenomenal. In two months, we shall see whether they are right.
Image Courtesy of Blizzard