Well, perhaps not “flying” but they are apparently being sent out, at least to some key media sources. The lead editor at CNET says he has one, at least.

    Diablo 3 beta invite just showed up. Any cardio routines out there that target your index finger? —richbcnet

    This tells us nothing about when the beta might start; it’s not unusual for invites to go out well in advance of a beta test going live, but it’s kind of surprising in this case as Blizzard generally keeps these things pretty close to the vest. Thanks to Valerius for the tip.

    In related news, Blizzard’s official Taiwanese D3 site posted the same “grow your Diablo beard” promotion that we posted about yesterday. The difference is that unlike the “do it for the fun of it” US site, they’re offering actual prizes; D3 beta slots!

    As several of our Asian readers noted, the deadline for contest entries is September 16th. That might be an indication that the beta will not start (at least for Taiwan) until after Sept 16th. Or it might mean nothing at all; as we know Blizzard beta invites are sent out in waves, and nothing in the contest rules says that the bearded winners will get into the beta on day one.

    So now what? I don’t know! Neither news item in this post really tells you anything definite about when the beta will or will not start. Sometimes it’s just like that; all we can do is pass along the news we find or that readers tip us off to; the ability to pull it together into a neat package isn’t always guaranteed.

    Update #1: The (alleged) text of the email various media peoples have received:

    Greetings from Blizzard Entertainment!

    We’re gearing up for the forthcoming launch of Diablo III and would like to extend you an invitation to participate in the beta test. If you are interested in participating, you need to have a Battle.net account, which you can create on our Battle.net website.

    Send us your Battle.net account login name and we will flag you for access to the Diablo III beta test when we begin admitting press. You do not need to go through the opt-in process. Please note that we do not currently have a date to announce for the start of the beta test.

    There will be no NDA associated with the beta test, so you’re free to write and take screen shots or video as you please.

    To secure your place among the first of Sanctuary’s heroes, we’ll need to have your Battle.net account login name by Tuesday, August 30.

    Thanks and see you all in the Burning Hells!

    Update #2: Bashiok has confirmed that these are legit.

    We have begun early media and fansite outreach in preparation for the upcoming Diablo III beta test. The email they are receiving clearly states that we do not have a date to announce for the start of the beta test.

    While we appreciate the interest in the beta test, we’d like to take this opportunity to caution everyone of potential phishing attempts or scams. Emails from Blizzard Entertainment will NEVER ask you for your password, and if you are selected for participation in the beta test, you won’t need to click any links in any corresponding email that you’d receive from us. When the time comes, players accepted into the beta test will be able to sign in to their account at www.Battle.net and see a Diablo III Beta license as one of their game licenses, as well as the ability to download the beta.

    In order to be eligible to participate in the Diablo III beta test, you should set up a Beta Profile on your Battle.net account, by following these instructions.

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