It may be one of the most anticipated games in recent PC history, but that doesn’t mean the developers of Diablo 3 are going to release it before it’s ready. In an earnings report, Blizzard made it clear that while development on the game is proceeding according to plan, they aren’t set to confirm that it will be released in the calendar year 2011. While that isn’t the most shocking news at this point, the company also explained that the Diablo 3 beta later this year will have a large impact on the game’s ultimate release date.

We’ve known for some time that Blizzard wasn’t sure if Diablo 3 would be coming in 2012, but they assured fans that if that turned out to be the case, then they would be releasing two games in 2012. Blizzard President Michael Morhaime previously announced an external beta would likely be coming this year, but at the time remained cagey about a firm release date in 2011.

While Blizzard is now making it seem more and more likely that Diablo 3 will see a 2012 release, it doesn’t appear to be linked to a lack of dedication or hard work. Morhaime explained:

“We are still working hard to ship the game before the end of the year; however, we’re not ready to commit to a release date at this time… Diablo 3 is still on track to go into external beta testing later this quarter… We are very much looking forward to getting the beta into the hands of our players and collecting their feedback for the final phase of development.”

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Blizzard would be risking an all-out rebellion if they went back on their promise of an external beta, so it’s good to hear that the plans haven’t changed. Diablo 3‘s beta is bound to be one of the most coveted experiences this year, regardless of what stage of development the game is in – apparently having been in the ‘home stretch’ since April.

And there is certainly no shortage of new mechanics to have tested prior to release. The new auction house has plenty of fans scratching their heads, even if the gameplay itself is the same old formula we know and love. Still, Morhaime is as optimistic as he can be, reassuring fans that their criticism is going to be key if the developer hopes to release the Diablo 3 we’ve been dreaming of:

“We talked about the new auction house technology which has not been fully tested. We’re not yet in beta and really it’s just going to come down to when the game is ready for prime-time.”

“We’ll know more when we hit beta and we’ll know more when we put some of these new systems into test. It’s a brand new infrastructure, with a lot of complex moving parts.”

Blizzard can really release Diablo 3 whenever they like, since making sure a game is highly refined before handing it over to the public has become a company trait (we’re still waiting on Heart of the Swarm). But at least for the moment, it seems that a beta is all fans can start to hope for this year.

With rumors of a Diablo 3 console release as well, we’d suggest that you Diablo fans just keep your eyes and ears plugged until spring. At least then you’ll spare yourself the agony of waiting.

Diablo 3 is slowly creeping towards a 2012 release, with a beta of some type still possibly for 2011.

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Source: Joystiq