The Rumor mill has been at full steam in the past few days with Diablo III release dates on Best Buy, Gamestop, Amazon, and whatnot. These are merely made up dates. Not sure why these make headlines so often considering how often these dates fail constantly.
Blizzplanet has been a registered fansite for nigh a decade. We have had our good share of accurate guesses, and big "oops!" moments. However, it doesn't take a decade of experience to learn the truth about this Diablo III release date rumor, or "leak".
I'll share with you the signs that Diablo III won't be shipping on the first week of February 2012. It's simple. Let's start with the most obvious one:
Blizzard Entertainment has not provided a release date
Blizzard won't release Diablo III without the announcement of an official release date. Blizzard Public Relations will post a press release when they are ready.
Here are several examples in the shape of blast-from-the-past or history records: Blizzard posted the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Global Launch Events -- such as this "Best Buy" rumored event -- two weeks in advance. If Blizzard was to launch Diablo III on February 1-3, there would be a similar press release by January 19-21.
Another sign with past history to back it up: Blizzard Entertainment announced the official release date of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm two months before the game shipped. Cataclysm shipped on December 6th, 2010. The press release announcing it was posted on October 4th, 2010. Blizzard announced the release date exactly 63 days in advance.
Trusting once more in history, Blizzard Entertainment announced the release date of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty on May 3, 2010. The release date was July 27, 2010. Blizzard announced the release date of StarCraft II exactly 85 days in advance. The StarCraft II Midnight Launch plans were announced on July 20th, 2010 -- exactly 7 days in advance.
Blizzard announced the release date of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King on September 15th, 2008. It shipped on November 13th, 2008. Exactly 59 days in advance. The midnight launch event was announced on October 28th -- 16 days in advance.
We haven't heard a Diablo III release date from Blizzard's press release page. This sign alone shatters the Diablo III release date rumors. History is your best friend. Blizzard.com is your main source to learn when Diablo III ships.
In contrast with other studios who ship an incomplete or bugged game in order to meet a date, Blizzard operates independently and they will only ship Diablo III when they feel the game is al dente, and ready for the masses.
Diablo III Beta End date has not been announced
Let's be honest on this one. They won't just unplug the beta servers overnight. They will likely announce a date and time when beta realms will be shutdown. Usually a few days prior to the release date.
Diablo III Beta Sweepstakes
Blizzard Entertainment is currently giving away 500 Diablo III beta keys every week since December 20, 2011 until January 23, 2012 @ 11:59 pm (PST).
Now ... will Blizzard go through all the trouble of manually flagging 500 accounts to give them access to Diablo III beta only to play for one week? Common sense ... nope.
No Server Maintenance Notices
When a video game is nearing a release date, players will notice long server maintenance notices, mysterious fluctuations in the forums, authentication or login issues. Since Diablo III is part of Battle.net 2.0, there should be significant activity with server maintenance and even patches for StarCraft II and World of Warcraft.
Currently, World of Warcraft patch 4.3.2 hit the Public Testing Servers (PTR) a couple of days ago. It introduced a 64-bit client, and a few other minor tweaks. Usually some websites would be alerting of new code strings for the Friend List and Real ID related to Diablo III. Since none of this is present in WoW patch 4.3.2, that means it will be added in a future WoW patch. PTR servers are usually up for about a month. Thus, there is no sign for Diablo III to ship early February.
I would guesstimate Diablo III release date might be between mid-March - July range. The release date of Diablo II could be a great candidate. However, if Blizzard feels the game is ready by March, there is nothing that will stop them from releasing it when the game is ready. However, they won't ship without announcing an official release date at least two months in advance as history records demonstrate with previous Blizzard games.
In conclusion, don't listen to false rumors. Let Blizzard Entertainment be your main source of news concerning video game release dates.
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Checking throughout the forums, twitter and facebook, Bashiok posted an update concerning the Diablo III release date rumors:
We probably won't end beta until shortly before release, and traditionally we've tried to announce release dates about two months before release. I couldn't speculate how invites might ramp up or down when the beta finally comes to a close, it definitely is not coming to a close yet though.
Q u o t e: Bashiok did say there was a strong possibility of a demo after release
We'll probably make a trial edition at some point. It's sort of a demo I suppose, but it's a bit better because it's essentially the full game just with locks put on certain areas. So you'd be able to jump into multiplayer games with your friends, but maybe you wouldn't be able to play beyond a certain place and wouldn't have access to all the game systems (certainly not auction houses) but if you choose to buy the game all that stuff just unlocks.
Additionally, Bashiok also states the game stores won't know when a video game will ship until a studios posts an official release date:
@koevii Retailers will not know a date until its officially announced through a press release. -- Bashiok's Twitter