Diablo 3 Sales Predicted at 3.5 Million Units This Year

The industry analysts have been number crunching again and the latest predicted sales figures by analysts Sterne Agee have the game selling 3.5 million copies in 2012.

“We think Diablo III, which is releasing after a gap of 12 years since the launch of Diablo II, has the potential to sell more than 4 million units life-time,” said Bhatia. “We note that Diablo II had sold 4m units by August 2001 or 14 months following its initial release in June 2010.”

Considering they predict that the game will sell 3.5 million by the end of this year, surely it would sell a lot more that 4 million in its lifetime? With the WoW annual pass making up around 1 million plus of the 3.5 million sales and pre-orders at around the 800,000 mark in the US alone (source VGChartz), the game should easily shift more than 4 million in its lifetime due to the replay value of the game.

As a comparison to a recent big release, pre-orders for Mass Effect 3 reached 985,000 during the week before launch and hit 1.3 million sales in the first month of release.

Thanks IncGamers

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57 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Sales Predicted at 3.5 Million Units This Year

  1. Makes sense. Keep in mind that most of the overall purchases will be people who are interested in the game, and therefore very likely to buy it at launch or at least within the year. Those who decide to hold off for a sale, people who don’t like the genre (and later change their minds), and people who emerge from year-long hibernations are the minority.

  2. I always wonder how the cost of development stacks up against sales. If they sell four million units, that comes out to around 240 million dollars if you don’t include CE sales. For a game that’ been in development as long as this has I can’t help but wonder what the profit margin is. I’ve always been curious about how this kinda thing works out on the financial side of development as you rarely get many developers who talk about it.

    • Well, they have stated their Diablo 3 development team is quite small, around 40 people. Overestimate $10,000 monthly salary per developer, and total development time around 7 years. Gives $10,000 * 40 * 12 * 7 = $33,6 Million USD.

      They will easily make a profit from Diablo 3, however, it will be a drop in the water compared to their WoW profits. It’s also a reason why they are very careful with what other games they develop, and what features they will have.

      • 40 people working directly on the game, but look at the Credits for any Blizzard game and it’s 500+ people, all of which have some sort of involvement. Now obviously a lot of these people will do work on multiple games (eg cinematics team, QA and test, marketing etc) but they all contribute costs to the projects they work on. You also need to consider the overall overheads of the business itself: electricity, heating, building maintenance, insurance etc.

        I suspect that without the RMAH, the D3 business case isn’t stellar. 

      • Salaries aren’t all. There’s also stuff like paying rent for the building they are in, buying the computers they develop on, buying the servers & server bandwidth. Then there’s all sorts of misc stuff like buying toilet paper. And for more major costs there’s marketing/advertisement, e.g. that TV spot during Family Guy wasn’t free.

        • Agree about all additional costs. Which makes me wonder why they don’t put all their efforts on MMO versions of Diablo and StarCraft, with a monthly fee. Together with Blizzard quality, that’s where they can haul in the big money. Sure, not all people can or will play all 3 MMOs, but together I am sure the total number of subscriptions will be more than WoW alone today.

          I guess Project Titan will be an MMO, but it will be unrelated to their current franchises. And probably totally uninteresting to me. Ah, well. 

          • Are you serious? You want fed Vivendi even more? They not Blizzard earn billions with WoW for minimal effort.
            WoW is best example for gold business model, minimum effort, maximum profit.

    • I remember them saying Starcraft 2 ultimately cost 100 million dollars to make.

      • *Sigh*.

        For some reason this site blocks URLs, even for long-time registered members.

        The $100M figure was a screwup by Wall Street Journal, it is actually $100M for WoW. 

        • Your comment motivated me to go check and yours was indeed held for moderation. Only a small % of comments get that, but of the 11 that were sitting there from the past day or 2, 8 were spam with links to diet pills and such crap. Which is why the wordpress comments spam blocker plug ins tend to lock up comments with links.  I don’t think there’s any configuration on it that allows link-filled  comments from users based on when they registered or anything like that; just whatever algorithm or suspect sites  the spam blocker add flags with.

    • If they use Hollywood accounting practices, they’ll lose money. A lot. Yet, they’ll have record sales.

  3. And Mass Effect 3 was meh! Though it definitely had a more appealing (to a total stranger) marketing…

    • Really? Do you have links to a comparative study on the effects of Diablo 3’s marketing campaign versus that of Mass Effect 3 on total strangers? Since you’re someone who isn’t a stranger I’m sure you realize that you’re unqualified to make this judgement yourself and are instead referring to some objective data from an empirical study, right?

      • Me3 featured a trailer that was showing spaceships fighting what looked like alien spaceships, earth, and the rugged commander shepard, a human. Gunfights on earth between humans and aliens, typical hollywood stuff.

        D3 featured a trailer showing some sort of armor guy with fiery wings, a demon thing, a church getting hit by a meteor(?), a fat spider thing with a burning face, some teenage chick and this gross old dude. One is easily more accessible than the other, I would think. 

        • Were they showing ME3 advertisements on The Family Guy? They aired an ad on The Walking Dead, and while that’s a popular program, I didn’t think that their advertising efforts were anywhere near as mainstream as Blizzard’s.

          It’s not purely a matter of accessibility – on that note I’d have to agree, if for no other reason than that the fast cuts of the D3 ads make it harder to figure out exactly what’s going on, compared to the longer live-action shots of ME3’s ads. “More appealing marketing”, however, seems like a broad category to me, as it would have to do not only with the content of the advertisements themselves, but also their usage and placement.

  4. To compare todays market sales to a 10 year old game seems confusing to me. Are they also telling us that the same amount of people play games today as 10 years ago? I understand that there is a lot more competition and diversity in gaming today than ever b4 however I just can’t see such an anticipated title as D3 underselling its predecessor period. And that’s not taking into account ease of access to games in the way of digital copy downloads these days. I don’t think these guys have a clue quite frankly, dubious at best. 😕

    • anticipated by who ?

      its been 12 years since D2

      people on this board know the Diablo series inside and out, but people on this board are not the average gamer

      we’re talking about a generation raised on consoles, Maple Story and WoW   

      • I still think a lot of people are going to buy it just to see if it lives up to the hype. Sequel’s to success’s always do well. If D3’s stinks then D4 will flop. But its running on the back of a cheetah, its going to sell.

  5. 4 million this year, 4 million more during the next 10 years. not including the consoles.

    cuz that’s just how they roll. 

  6. no way in hell is Diablo 3 going to sell only 4 mil lifetime.. since the diablo series sold in over 17 million copies lifetime… i would be surprised if they sold less then 5 mil by the end of the year

    • It doesn’t say “4 million total”, it says “at least 4 million”.

      From Elly’s commentary, it seems she mis-read it too. 

  7. so diablo 3, what i believe to be the most anticipated game ever(at least by me and at least a million other people) is supposed to sell 4 million copies this year?? i predict that for the first week… i feel sorry for the millions of gamers that wont get it

  8. considering basicly every friend that play games is getting D3 with many uping their machines to play it at max , i just dont belive the number could be this low ….  also it should have bigger sales then SC2 …

  9. These statement are completely useless without being able to see the study behind it.

    • Yep like all statements without being able to see the raw data it meaningless.
      In this case the only raw data that I know they used is the USA Pre-Order Chart, but that just 1 Country.

  10. SC2 sold almost 4 million in its first month. -_-”  There’s no way Diablo3 will sell less than that. D3 appeals to much broader audience than SC2.

  11. I love those ‘analyst’ people, spewing crap left and right and getting paid for it. Comparing D2 to D3 is completely insane, gaming market is gigantic now and a lot more people are playing. A lot of D2 players will play D3 but you also have to factor in completely new sales (they were 3-4yo kids back then but now they are raging teenagers with lust for blood). Top it off with overall increase in wealth all over the world and tons of new markets and you have a figure much much higher then what they predict. 

  12. These idiot analysts are always way off the mark and are a waste of page space.

  13. 1. These so called analists are a laugh really. Remember the supposed 4 m SW TOR sales and 2.5 m subscriptions after one year.

    Even a casual mmo player could see this catastrophe in predictions.

    2. The man simply looks at recently sale figures and compares them with pre orders. Which is wrong for a game like d3 because it is an on line game with a real currency on going economy. ME3 was not only cross platform, it has NO prolonged play. Also the pre orders are distorted because of the 1.3 million Wow players who already have their copies.

    3. Diablo3 will have a secondary market like WoW. Meaning … In its second year it will still boost sales due to the trading part: the word will spread and people will be intrested by this new real money selling features.

    4. The number of Blizzard and ex blizzard players should be around 25 million players by now. Of course not all will be interested and half of them live in China, but still that means the potential PC market for Diablo 3 is around 7 million players. My guess is that 6 to 7 million is feasable in its first year.

    A few million could be added next year when the game would be launched on consoles.


  14. these people are professional analysts, lets wait for the numbers until we call them a laugh. i do agree that the predictions seem low but im sure they have a lot of factors in the equation that we arent even aware of. for example, you register your d3 on battle.net and then you can download on any pc. i remember losing d2 cds maybe…5 times during the last 12 years- hell i cant even find them right now. my point is people bought d2 more than once. theres prob a lot of other factors

    • I dont think as many people lose stuff as much as you. I still have my original disks… and dont know anyone who buys a game more than once.

      • I bought lost planet 2 three times now. I have my fourth disc sitting on top of my xbox, unopened. I have yet to play it.

        I would not underestimate the weirdness of people. But since you have to activate it on bnet, you always have an available copy and don’t have to worry about losing cdkeys, so this is a null issue.

        • And I would not assume everyone has so much money to throw away. I still have my original discs of Diablo 2 bought on day one perfectly safe and working.

      • Every single one of my friends that played d2 has bought the game at least twice.  I just bought it for a third time so I could play a bit before d3 released. My CD key on my original game case rubbed off 7 years ago. It wasn’t until recently you could tie your games to an online account to re download over and over. 

  15. I can see them comparing it with similar games types.
    But again you run into problems with comparing it to these games, as one Diablo is the biggest name in hack & slash RPGs it like trying to make a prediction on a CoD game based on a small number FPS, just because they are FPS. As we all know the CoD sell numbers are huge compared to most other FPSers.

  16. BS
    SC2 sold 3 million copies in the first month.
    a strategy game
    i predict 5 million

    US preorder numbers

    X2.5-3(EU, Asia, SA etc) + 1-1.5 million from annual pass

    3 million just from preoreders and the WoW pass

    now add battle.net pre purchase and people who don’t preorder just buy the game when it’s comes out

  17. plus 200.000 digital copies to the hardcore fans that need to play at midnight while waiting for their CE

    • HiHi,

      Apparently I am not the only one taking the on line version to play at midnight and ordered an Amazon CE edition to have a WOW sub for 4 extra months free.

      🙂 My son will stand in line at the shop just to experience the meeting with his friends , while he too had an extra copy with the yearly WOW subs.

      Let me count that’s 4 copies for 2 persons…

      We’ll have our money back in no time by selling crafting mats and gold in a few weeks time anyway … 🙂       


  18. replay value? which replay value? isn’t this exactly the biggest concern, that there won’t be much replay value because of the new skill system. why should i replay it with the same class, when there’s nothing new to see? after you are done with all  classes, d3 is actually over, sadly.

    • I’ll quote Rob Pardo …

      People will be playing the game LONG time after they are level capped and even gear capped … because of the challenge Inferno modes and … the real money auction house.

      If you don’t agree: discuss it with him, but I believe the man…    

    • Forcing a playthrough for every “respec” is a fake, forced way to extend replay value. They could have done that easy as a heartbeat in D3, but chose not to because they’ve understood correctly that replayability should come from challenge (inferno) not mindless grind due to some arbitrary rule.  

      Once you’ve reached lvl 60 with all classes (around 200 hours of entertainment?) you still have the nigh-impossible inferno to farm. If you’ve completely farmed inferno with all classes before the next expansion come out, you need to get a job.

      • You are assuming that they developed the skill system in D2 for replay value, which is a statement I would disagree with.

  19. What a joke. Starcraft 2 sold about 1,5 mil copies in first 48 hours of its sale. And I think D3 is way more hyped than SC2, because let’s face it, Diablo 3 is aimed at much broader audience than SC2. It is not like anyone can hop into SC2 multiplayer band-wagon. In D3, almost anyone can play it.

  20. It will sell huge ! For example I would buy one and 3 of my co-workers will buy, then another  friend of mine will buy in the first day only ! So I guess it will sell about 3+ million copies in one day !

  21. I’d be surprised if they only sell 3.5 million the first year (including the Annual Passes).
    Think that would be considered quite the failure for Blizzard.

    The Diablo type game is much more approachable than Starcrafts RPG-type.

    Will be interesting to see how the inevitable console-version performs as well.

  22. The problem is… Are these predictions with or without digital sales?  Because I think 4 million not including digital sales is probably a high estimate, and 4 million including them is criminally low.  This is the main reason people look at sales charts and go.. “omg pc gaming is dead”  When the bottom line is that almost every pc game sells more digital copies than retail at this point.  Companies rarely give up their steam sales numbers and blizzard barely ever mentions anything except when they hit a milestone.  If blizzard said they sold 40 million copies of WoW(and 100 mill+ counting all expansions) I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised… And that would actually make it the highest selling non-bundled game of all time..  When you are at 10 million 7.5 years later you have to assume atleast 75% turn over.  They will never post these numbers however because it only points out how many people have quit.

  23. 2,082,753 people like Diablo.
    Ca 1.5 billion ppl have access to the internet. (it was 1.23bil in 2008)
    Earlyier this year there were 1Billion ppl online in Facebook simultaniously.
    So lets say there are 500Mil ppl that have internet and dont have Facebook.
    Of all ppl on facebook every 500th likes Diablo.
    Lets say this is true for every non facebook user this will add another Million Ppl that like Diablo.

    Lets assume everybody that “likes” diablo also buys it.
    + 1.000.000
    Thats instanly 3 Million ppl.
    Not taking not-“like”-ers and dubblebuys into account. And socail advertising like: “Dude! You gotta Play this s**t.”
    So yeah 4 Million sales is a no-brainer

  24. That’s a different analysist? You know all analysist do not share the same hive mind 😛

  25. Quite honestly, the 4 million expected buyrate is a little low for me. I mean, with the Annual Pass buyers, they might have already sold what, 800k units?

    This is the most anticipated game of all time. What with that, and considering that it is free to play, I predict that it will easily top 5 million this year.

    Then again, since it is Rated M, the sales will be limited only to adults, unlike WoW wherein teens and sometimes even kids can buy and play.

  26. Perhaps 3.5 by years end minus annual pass is 2.5. I say that is pretty weak considering the amount of hype some people give it. 

    • Well. It’s easy to call numbers “pretty weak” when you make them up on the spot.

  27. I just dont get what is buzz around this game, it is hacked and uploaded to internet already many times, you can play nearly full beta on hellgateserver.com , on 15 we will have they way to play full beta, only problem is marketplace. with hellgateserver you can not connect to global trade market

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