With all these screenshots leaking from early Beta testers, there is understandable confusion and excitement. To paraphrase our forums and comments: “Where are the leaks coming from? Who is playing now? And why the hell ain’t it me?”

    I can’t answer the last one, but the first two are known. Well, kinda. It’s funny, but we don’t know if this stuff is actually “leaking.” We know there will not be an NDA on the public beta test, but there might be one on just the F&F Beta, in which case the screens and stuff were leaked. Not that it really matters.

    Here’s the important thing. Earlier tonight I heard from a guy who is (allegedly) in a top WoW guild, who knows some Blizzard employees through it. The word from them is that the Friends and Family Beta test has just begun. It’s fairly limited in number, no more than 5 invites per Blizzard employee, and it’s meant to break in the B.net servers in preparation for the full beta test, when vastly more testers will be invited in. (I don’t have any numbers on the F&F Beta, but since there are thousands of Blizzard employees, 5 invites each could be quite a few people.)

    That rumor got some backup just this morning, thanks to some posts on the Russian language B.net forum. (In Soviet Russia, Blizzard CMs actually answer questions?) Big thanks to the site reader who wished to remain anonymous, but who sent in links and translations of the news. Also to Ivan in comments for a better translation of the following:

    Question #1:

    Question: I would like to learn if this one with beta key is from media,press, friends and family or invites already started for all “normal” users.
    Blizzard’s Answer: There is information. We are preparing, like always at the release of our games, for an epic adventure! I am personally planning on taking vacation for a couple of weeks (if I manage to do so, provided the other CMs [presumably?] don’t beat me to it)
    Beta-testing will start soon. We will disclose the exact date when we are sure ourselves, because there is no end to the thoroughness, and the QA guys [programmers, etc.] are constantly fixing, attaching, or lacquering something. I can say one thing – the light at the end of the tunnel is already visible. And it’s growing brighter…

    Announcements on the site occur as new information becomes available. Essentially everyday (but generally not just once a day). If you only knew, there’s a frightening chaos here, and kilometers of text recently. This means that soon these kilometers of text will appear on the site. Invitations for [beta] testing are sent, as a rule, depending on the need of the current stage [of testing]. Because of that, an exact number [of invitations] will not be identified ahead of time.
    I myself tried that build that we showed at Gamescom last year, and the following one after that [note that this is unclear between game build or build shown at Gamescom year]. These were relatively early versions, but they were already highly impressive/noteworthy/othersynonym [literally, made an impression]. Now me and the other CM [presumably] refresh the page every two minutes in the hopes of beta – no patience!

    Where did the Beta downloader screenshot come from?

    Question: Where that guy got that screenshots/client downloader?
    Blizzard’s Answer: He could get it from anywhere. For years now we are showing out different builds on multiple gaming events, where anyone can try the game out.

    What’s happening next?

    Official reply states that they had 2 internal testing periods until now and currently refreshing their mailboxes every few minutes in anticipation of new info.

    From this info it seems unlikely that we’ll get the full Beta rolling this week. It’s just for Blizzard peeps and friends for now, and they get the holiday weekend to enjoy, while the rest of us can only look on in envy. Hopefully next week, after Bliz gets some rest and relaxation, they’ll be ready to scale up to the full test? It should be soon™, at any rate. (The full thing should get rolling around early/mid-Sept, we’ve heard from some little mice.)

    Update: Korean CM confirms that it’s the North American Friends and Family beta going on now, thanks to a tip from a reader and the dubious charms of Google translator:

    Evan — Community Manager
    Diablo III as the first step in the preparation of a beta test in North America employees’ friends and family (F&F) to target a limited internal testing has just begun.

    Yet just a regular player in North America did not start for the betas, Korea, including other regions for the beta test have not decided anything yet, just want you to know that.

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