Three major - and official - Chinese StarCraft fansites have announced that Blizzard will be providing them with StarCraft II beta keys, and that the long-awaited beta could start "before May."
Yesterday, StarCraft fansite StarCraftWire.net posted that the three largest officially endorsed Chinese StarCraft fansites were all making preparations for a SC2 beta key giveaway. National Geographic of Azeroth (a major WoW fansite as well) announced that - roughly translated:
"...SC2 beta test will start soon. When that happens, NGA will get a bunch of beta keys at the first hand. We want to hand those keys to you guys as soon as possible, so we are going to start the activity ahead of schedule. The activity (challenge) will start this week."
Two more fansites - Xingji2cn (Xing Ji being Mandarin for StarCraft) and sc2p - followed suit, announcing their own beta key giveaway plans as well. StarCraftWire was able to track down the sc2p editor who posted about the giveaway - who goes by "CoNia" - and grilled him for some answers.
According to CoNia, the information that the SC2 beta was imminent was given to sc2p by a "Blizzard Community manager in China," and that they will be given the beta keys as soon as Blizzard approves their contest plans. Here's the real kicker, though - when SCWire asked whether or not they'd been given a date for when the beta would start, CoNia responded:
If I say there is no hint at all it wouldn't be true, but I can't give you more details. I can give you a rough time. Before May, but I can't be sure.
When SCWire's kuangtu remarked that, given that there are only 10 days left in April, this would be very short notice, CoNia agreed: "Yes, that's why the activity is in hurry. We didn't get any notification before. We started to plan the activity right after they gave the 'go.'"
Now, we have to stress a few things: For one, absolutely nothing is confirmed thus far. Given that the three sites in question are all recognized and approved by Blizzard as official Chinese StarCraft fansites - and they all announced plans virtually simultaneously - it might be unlikely that this is a hoax, but that doesn't mean it would be impossible. Furthermore, CoNia's "before May" timetable does seem to only be a rough estimate, or guesswork. So I wouldn't start marking off your calendar just yet - plus, for all we know, this timetable might only apply to the Chinese beta (a rather unlikely scenario, especially given the game's popularity in neighboring Korea, but not completely out of the question).
Considering that we were told that we were "in the final stretch" back in February, it doesn't seem to be too far-fetched, but let's not break out the bubbly too soon. Still, this might just mean that the long road to the long-awaited StarCraft II beta is nearing its end.
In the meantime, why not tide yourself over with the Battle Report 2?