Despite the recent beta opening up, no one should really be surprised when Blizzard delays a game.
As they have made abundantly clear in nearly every communication the company has made, Blizzard releases games on their schedule and no one else's. The PC juggernaut was already immune to publisher pressures to release on time because the company had yet to produce a sub-par game, but now that Blizzard is the publisher, there's no question that one of their games will come out "when it's ready" and not before. At least Blizzard has a sense of humor about it, as their press release announcing the delay begins with "Despite a sterling record of always hitting its release targets..." Yeah, not exactly.
"With every game we make, the temptation is always very strong to launch as soon as possible. However, we didn't put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready," said Mike Morhaime, head of Blizzard.
The beta for Diablo III just opened up beyond the "friends & family" phase on September 20, and Blizzard wants to extend the window of testing before going gold. "The beta test is going very well, and we look forward to making the most of the extra time we're taking to deliver an experience that lives up to our vision for the game and the expectations of our players," Morhaime said.
The extended test will give time to invite a larger number of players to the beta, so if you haven't opted in already, you might want to schlep over to your Battle.net account page to do so now.
With Diablo III entering the 2012 calendar year, the next phase of StarCraft II slated around July, and a possible WoW expansion dropping by the holidays, next year is going to be pretty huge for Blizzard. When was the last time they had three major releases in the same year?
"Next year is going to be an incredibly busy one for Blizzard, and we hope an incredibly fun one for Blizzard gamers," said Morhaime.