Well we made it. The Saturday May 21st Doomsday didn’t happen but don’t worry, the pits of hell still may open up this year. Diablo 3’s [D3] beta will go live in Q3 and perhaps some Activision-Blizzard boardroom bullying will push the actual game out the door just in time for some holiday game bingeing.
With the D3 beta confirmed to be out as early as July will Activision-Blizzard make a push to release D3 before years end? Most who are familiar with Blizzard’s molasses like development would say no but there is more going on behind the scenes, and in the boardroom, then usual.
Blizzard reported a first for its other mega franchise (World of Warcraft [WOW]), a drop in its monthly player subscriptions of 5%. Around the release of this news Activision-Blizzard stock took a dip. If the subscription drop in WOW accounts becomes a trend expect the stock reaction to follow suit. The same week the news regarding WOW subscriptions went public so did the news about the D3 beta and Activision-Blizzard stocks made a rebound. This wasn’t mere coincidence. This was a cause and effect occurrence. Cause, drop in WOW subscriptions, drop in stock price – Effect, announcement of D3 beta, rise in stock price.
With a more competitive massive multiplayer online market [MMO], more free-to-play [F2P] options of high quality and MMOs with developing loyal fan basis (SEE EVE Online) will the drop in WOW subscriptions and stock prices continue? I can assure you that those individuals on the Activision-Blizzard board are asking themselves the same question. It is the answer to that question that may influence the final release date of D3. It may be one the first times were we see Blizzards total control of when their games are released be heavily influenced. Blizzards attention to detail and ability to polish their games before release will be challenged by this development but what better publisher to face that confrontation and succeed than Blizzard.
We might just see the master of all betas cycle into a much desired holiday release. Hells gates and Doomsday could be upon us this winter. Deckard Cain and the heroes of Sanctuary are required again!