A new news item on Inside Korea quotes Blizzard COO Paul Sams on various Blizzard matters, including esports, SC2 in Korea, and Diablo III’s progress. Here’s the part we’re interested in, and thanks to RisingRed for the tip.

    As the company marks its 20th anniversary this year, Sams said his management goal is to successfully launch Diablo 3 within the year. Diablo is an online role-playing game that has won wide popularity since it was first launched in 1996.

    ?With Diablo 3 targeted at being launched this year, we plan on testing the game in the third quarter,? Sams said.

    He added, however, that the release could be delayed if even the slightest problem is detected.

    Putting this together with the August 2nd B.net feature reveal, seems to put D3 on course for a beta test that starts in early-mid August (as the earliest). That would still give them most of August, plus all of Sept, Oct, and Nov for beta testing, with a rush to release in late December possible.

    That’s considerably accelerated from the “about six months” time frame we got previously from Jay Wilson, but he was clearly speaking in general terms, rather than giving some precise timetable. Obviously we’d all like to see Diablo III sooner than later, and it seems unlikely given their past history of delays for quality, but I hope Bliz isn’t getting hung up on December 2011 as some make or break date. Better a thorough beta test and a release in early-mid 2012 than a rush to Christmas.

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