A few days ago we posted the news that Amazon.de was sending “Diablo 3 delayed into second quarter 2012” emails to everyone who had pre-ordered the title. The explanation from Amazon.de was that the publisher had informed them of the delay. This news caused much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, despite the fact that the past three years has brought a perpetual parade of wildly incorrect Diablo 3 release dates from nearly every online retailer you can name. Given that the first 500 release dates were much too early, wouldn’t it be nice if some now started missing in the other direction?
We don’t know if that’s how Amazon.de’s “June 30, 2012” prediction will fare, but MeddlinG emailed to say Bashiok has pointed out, once again, that Blizzard does not give inside info on their release dates to retailers.
Retailers will find out the release date the same time you do.
Note that Bashiok didn’t refute the Amazon.de release date, or offer any additional statement on a release date. Then again, would you have expected him to do so? Click through for some more “Inside Baseball” type analysis of how Blizzard info leaks occur, and how this rumor (if it is a rumor) might have started.
As I don’t think Amazon.de pulled this date and the explanation completely from thin air, here’s a possible explanation. “Blizzard” isn’t just one person, or one voice, or one company, or even one continent. It’s a massive conglomerate, with thousands of employees and PR people and marketing people, etc. While our main exposure is to the Blizzard Irvine nerve center, where Bashiok is located, there are other offices all over the world, and we’ve seen info leaks from many of them. Just to list a few: the future product schedule from China, the Monk debuted an hour early from Korea, and an anonymous source that let IncGamers (us!) know that D3 was being debuted a day before it was, back in June 2008.
So yes, leaks occur all the time, and from all over the world. And Blizzard employees all over the world talk to other media, retailers, marketing people, etc. And it’s quite possible that someone in the German office talked to someone at Amazon.de, or possibly to a bunch of retailers, and said something about Diablo III being delayed further. Whether that was accurate inside info or just speculation, we don’t know. (Though we’ll find out soon enough.)
This does reinforce the concept I brought up (to some misunderstanding; check the comments for details) in a post yesterday. Bashiok is an employee of Blizzard PR, and it’s often his job to give us the official company line. Consider two hypothetical possibilities: 1) He knows that D3 is going to be released in mid-February and that a big release date announcement is imminent. 2) He knows that D3 is going to be delayed (again) and the Amazon.de post is correct. In neither case would he even hint at that. He’d say what he did; that retailers don’t get advance inside info on release dates. (Which they very often do, just not from Blizzard. Or at least that’s their official story and they’re sticking to it.)
I suppose most of you guys already realize this, but the vast majority of the words from Blizzard’s CMs, especially regarding future plans/release dates/etc, can be reduced to, “I can neither confirm nor deny that.” How well they do at never actually using those words is a fair measure of their relative PR job skill.