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‘Diablo 3’ finally gets a release date

Diablo 3
diablo3community.com

Blizzard's long awaited dungeon crawler, and one of the most eagerly awaited games of 2012 in general, finally has a release date. "Diablo 3" will arrive on both physical and digital store shelves on May 15.

Knowing that demand for the game spans across the globe, Blizzard Entertainment announced that retailers will have copies available in United States, Canada, Europe, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

If you live in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, or Brazil and think you've been left out in the cold, fear not. Everyone from those territories, along with all the countries previously listed, can purchase the game digitally via Blizzard's Battle.net. Those in Latin American and Russian territories will get the localized version by June 7.

But why wait to put your on the table or input credit cards two months from now? Digital pre-sales opens today.

"Diablo 3" is headed for both Windows and Mac and will come in two flavors. The standard edition is just the game for $60, but the truly hardcore can get the collector's edition for $100. In addition to the game, there are a behind the scenes Blu-ray/DVD set, the soundtrack, an art book, a fancy looking USB stick that includes "Diablo 2," a corresponding base, and exclusive in-game content for the new release.

Blizzard repeated another message: gamers can obtain "Diablo 3" for free if they sign up for a "World of Warcraft" annual pass. Given the dwindling interest in that latter MMO, some are calling such an act a shrewd and smart business move. Others have a slightly more negative and cynical point of view.

The original "Diablo" was released in 1996 and laid the foundation for the dungeon crawling genre. Demand for a follow-up has been especially high in recent years, with many citing it as the last major franchise that Blizzard had yet to update. The pending release of part 3 -- as well as the 15th year anniversary of the series -- was a major focal point at last year's BlizzCon, the yearly fan-fest for Blizzard devotees.

There has been a closed beta for "Diablo 3" since late last year, and demand for invites remain strong. Even with the final product on the horizon, there is little doubt that will continue until the very last second.

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Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of  Attract Mode , and co-hosts  The Fangamer Podcast . You can keep tabs on him via  Twitter , or his personal home-base,  FORT90.com .