Irvine-based game developer Blizzard Entertainment released Diablo III today, marking the third chapter in the Diablo series. More than 2 million copies of the game have already been sold through digital and retail pre-orders since the company announced the game’s release date two months ago.
Blizzard celebrated the game’s release by coordinating launch events at more than 8,000 retail locations, which began selling the box set games at 12 a.m. this morning. One such event drew thousands of fans to the Irvine Spectrum yesterday for the midnight launch.
“This launch is a culmination of many years of hard work by our development team, and many years of passionate, dedicated support from gamers around the world,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re grateful for the enthusiasm of our players, and for the help of our beta testers in getting the game ready for release. “
The action role-playing game is set in the mythical world of Sanctuary, which has been overrun by demons 20 years after the conclusion of Diablo II. Players take on the role of one of five character classes to combat the evil forces from corrupting the land. Diablo III is rated M for mature audiences.
“Now that Diablo III is live, we hope everyone’s ready to have a hellishly good time slaying demons and collecting loot in Sanctuary,” Morhaime said.
The first installment of the series, Diablo, was released in 1996, and was developed by Blizzard North, the company’s Bay Area game development division (the branch closed in 2005). Diablo II was released in 2000, followed by the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion a year later. Development of the latest game was first announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris in 2008, introducing the first two playable character classes.
The game is now available for Windows and Mac and can be purchased for $59.99 via digital download or through retailers as a DVD-ROM box set. A Collector’s Edition also includes a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD behind-the-scenes feature on the making of Diablo III, a soundtrack CD that includes 24 pieces of original music from the game, a book on the art of Diablo III, a 4-gigabyte USB “soulstone” that includes the full Diabo II game and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion, and exclusive in-game features for World of Warcraft, Starcraft: Wings of Liberty, and Diablo III. The Collector’s Edition is available exclusively in stores and retails for $99.99.
Blizzard has a history of setting game sales records with its new releases. In 2010, the company sold more than 1.5 million copies of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty within the first 48 hours of the game’s launch. Later that year, sales of Cataclysm, the fourth game expansion in the World of Warcraft online role-playing game franchise, hit the 3.3 million mark in the first 24 hours of sales.
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