If there is one thing that video game fans are required to get used to, it’s playing the waiting game. Nowhere is this true than in the case of Diablo 3, which has been in production for the better part of a decade. While the developers at Blizzard have resisted pinning down a specific release date it seems at least one retailer has plans for a midnight launch on February 1, 2012.

The secretive team over at Blizzard has been keeping fans completely in the dark since confirming that Diablo 3 had been slightly pushed forward into a 2012 release, but the newest evidence is more than a little compelling. “Early 2012” certainly had optimists holding their breath, but a release just three weeks from today wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

The news comes via Joystiq, after catching a tweeted image of a Best Buy end-cap in Rochester, Minnesota. The display didn’t just invite customers to place a pre-order for Diablo 3 Collector’s Edition, but advertised a midnight release for February 1, along with an automated timer. The display is certainly the real deal (even if ‘February’ is misspelled), and when contacted a store employee confirmed that – at their location at least – the midnight launch was being planned.

Several retailers are now listing the same release date online, including Best Buy and GameStop’s Canadian branch, EB Games. Whether that’s more evidence of a tip or competitors wanting to keep up with one another is anyone’s guess, but it’s worth noting that Blizzard has still yet to confirm or deny the reports.

Diablo 3 Best Buy February Reveal

This will likely be more than good news to PC fans, since the mere appearance of the game’s opening cinematic at the VGAs was all the developers needed to drum up some new excitement for the impending launch. And while that means console fans will need to wait for their own release for who knows how long, we know it won’t be a simple port.

If the Best Buy advertisements are accurate, we’ve got to hand it to Blizzard. After getting anticipation up over the past year with new story trailers and complete secrecy, it’s hard to make a bigger splash than suddenly unveiling an imminent release. If nothing else, it kept skeptics out there from claiming that Diablo 3 would be overshadowed by the release of The Old Republic. While revealing Diablo will be on store shelves next month should do the trick in stealing the PC/RPG thunder, it will be interesting to see if that buzz is more beneficial than an extensive marketing campaign.

What do you make of the reports? Think that the game will really be here in less than a month, or is this just a big mix-up? Leave us your own thoughts in the comments.

Diablo 3 will be released for the PC – possibly – on February 1, 2012. We’ll keep you updated if Blizzard decides to comment.

[Update: Blizzard’s Community Manager has taken to Twitter to respond that the sign was not created by the company, and that “Retailers will not know a date until its officially announced through a press release.”]

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Joystiq

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