Blizzard says the PvP Arena won't be included with Diablo 3 but will instead be added in a future patch.
We still don't know when Diablo 3 will arrive, but the word out of Blizzard is that whenever it does, player-versus-player action - the "PvP Arena" - won't be a part of the package. That's the bad news; the good news, which I mention because someone is bound to ask, is that the studio isn't looking to monetize PvP, the system just isn't ready yet.
"As we're counting down the days until we're ready to announce a release date for Diablo 3, we've come to realize that the PvP game and systems aren't yet living up to our standards," Blizzard's Jay Wilson wrote on Battle.net. "We wanted to let you know that we've made the difficult decision to hold back the PvP Arena system and release it in a patch following the game's launch. After a lot of consideration and discussion, we ultimately felt that delaying the whole game purely for PvP would just be punishing to everyone who's waiting to enjoy the campaign and core solo/co-op content, all of which is just about complete."
"When the PvP patch is ultimately ready, it will add multiple Arena maps with themed locations and layouts, PvP-centric achievements, and a matchmaking system that will help you and your team get into fairly matched games quickly and easily. We'll also be adding a personal progression system that will reward you for successfully bashing in the other team's skulls," he continued. "We know a lot of you are looking forward to PvP, and we'll be focusing our post-launch efforts on making sure the Arenas are as brutal, bloody, fast-paced, and awesome as we know they can be."
As a general videogame principle, I'd rather wait for something good than get something half-assed right now, so in that light this could be seen as a good thing. The obvious downside, particularly for PvP fans, is that given the way Blizzard works, it could be an unfortunately long wait for the promised update to arrive. Cutting content at this late date in an effort to get the game out the door also leaves me a little bit leery about the overall state of the game; what else could end up feeling rushed or incomplete?
Wilson promised that more information about Blizzard's plans for post-launch PvP in Diablo 3 will be released "in the future."