In what has amounted to a seemingly eternity-long development cycle for fans of the Diablo franchise, Blizzard announced this week that Diablo 3 finally has a hard release date: May 15, 2012.
While fans eagerly and perhaps impatiently wait as the days dwindle down to the launch, Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz is predicting Diablo 3 will sell extremely well, to the tune of 5 million copies in its first year alone.
"Our street-high FY12 EPS estimate of $1.05 assumes first year unit sell-through of 5MM for Diablo 3, and assumes that over 1MM of the units incorporate the World of Warcraft ‘annual pass’ deal which allows WoW players who commit to a one-year subscription to receive Diablo 3 for free."
Blizzard’s Diablo 3 Game Director Jay Wilson, before the launch date was released, announced that the game was in good shape, and that everything was moving along nicely for the launch. While there were some issues in the previous months, namely the re-working of systems and features like pets and reforging scrolls being removed from the game, Wilson acknowledge that the game was so popular with the staff that real work was taking a back seat to the employees playing the game.
The release date confirmation seemed to put a lot of fears to rest about the state of the game for anxious Diablo fans, and when experts predict a game will sell 5 million units in the first fiscal year alone, the general consensus is that Blizzard will once again release a rock-solid game that will stand the test of time. Considering the record revenues for Activision Blizzard last year, the prediction that Diablo 3 will sell five million units has to be music to the company's ears, especially since the game includes in an in-game auction house for which Blizzard will be taking a cut of all transactions made.
Creutz also offered a bonus to Blizzard fans in the rest of the statement, saying that both the Heart of the Swarm and Mists of Pandaria should launch in 2012.
"We expect three Blizzard titles to ship over the next twelve months (Diablo 3, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria); we expect the new Bungie title to ship in 2013; and we expect Blizzard’s new MMO to ship in 2014."
It was previously reported that yet another delay for Diablo 3 meant that either Heart of the Swarm or Mists of Pandaria would slip past 2012. Blizzard has apparently redoubled their efforts to get all three games in line for 2012 launch dates. That being said, this is still Blizzard, so until a launch date is confirmed, players should take this statement with a grain of salt.
Ranters, are you pre-ordering Diablo 3? What do you expect from the tent-pole franchise once it's released?
Diablo 3 launches May 15, 2012 for PC, Mac, and yet unconfirmed consoles.
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