A little update on the status of Diablo III; as expected, a quarter one release is not going to be happening. In fact, don’t expect any game releases from Blizzard in the first quarter of this year. The good news is that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick says the new year is looking to be a good one for the company, and for consumers as well.
“Our extraordinary employees around the world are focused on making 2012 another great year for our audience and stakeholders. Blizzard Entertainment plans to have multiple highly-anticipated titles to release, including Diablo III, and Activision Publishing expects to release a new Call of Duty game. In addition, Activision Publishing expects to continue to grow Call of Duty Elite and launch Skylanders Giants,” said Kotick in the company’s recent financial report.
Publishing chief Eric Hirshberg added that the company was “hard at work on Elite 2.0,” developing many new features that will coincide with the upcoming 2012 Call of Duty release. A Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Collection is slated for release in March.
The financial report also stated that the calendar year 2012 promises at least two releases from Blizzard, and Kotick promised that Diablo III would be one of those releases. While the company may not be able to make the “early 2012” promise, an Activision presentation slide shows that Diablo III is expected to be released in quarter two (sometime between April 1 and June 30).
Last month, we learned that the delay was tied up with a number of changes being made to the game—minor and major. In Blizzard’s defense, Diablo III game director Jay Wilson said, “no one will remember if the game is late, only if it’s great.” With anticipation building for the game, Diablo III community manager Bashiok recently answered a good number of questions on Twitter. Note worthy answers were the 4-player co-op limit, the early digital release and the confirmation that the beta graphics would be final. As far as in-game chat, Bashiok says the public chat channels will not be removed, and will actually be in the upcoming beta patch for gamers to try out
Diablo III‘s release will only bolster the company’s popularity. As pointed out in the financial report, the company ended up being #1 in the US for console and handheld publishers for the calendar year. Despite World of Warcraft’s fall in subscribers, and analysts’ fear of the competition from EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, WOW maintained its leading global position for subscription based MMORPGs. The LA Times points out that this is due to the company’s “aggressive marketing and discounting”’; though, the cost in retaining customers was a loss in revenue. However, Activision is bolstered by its Call of Duty franchise; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the #1 best-selling title for the calendar year. Add all that to Battle.net’s 50 million registered users, as Digital World Research’s P.J. McNealy says, and Activision has a “pretty nice competitive position.”