Blizzard announced the end time yesterday, and 3am PDT has come and gone, and with it the Diablo III Beta. I saw a lot of comments from players who said they’d uninstalled it days ago, to give them a longer break between Beta and Final, but that wasn’t my path. For me, knowing that the beta was about to end motivated me to get in my last licks, and I actually played more the past couple of days than I had in the previous month. Elly and me even recorded two full two-player clears that we’re calling “playcasts” as they were half play through, half podcast. Look for one or both of those in the days to come, just when you start to itch from withdrawal.
Whatever complaints you might have had about it, we can all agree that the Diablo III beta was full of surprises. It certainly wasn’t the beta many of us expected, and probably wasn’t what Blizzard expected either. When it began last September, the official plan was still to push for a December 2011 release, and Blizzard had repeatedly told us they wanted a quick beta with limited content that would function chiefly as a Battle.net stress test.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. Twice during the beta, Blizzard announced that Diablo III had missed a release window, but at least we could see what they were working on, as the beta underwent massive content changes over the months. These included the introduction of the entirely new skill and rune system, numerous changes to crafting and Artisans, a full makeover of the character interface and attribute system, several complete rebalances of the game difficulty, and much more. (Remember gold pets? The Cauldron of Jordan? The Nephalem Cube?)
The amount of testers was a surprise as well. Far from being a quick short test with a rapidly-increasing number of players, the Diablo 3 Beta started small and stayed that way for months. It began as a friends and family test back in August, and scaled up very slowly, remaining basically a glorified F&F all through 2011. More invites finally started to trickle out in early 2012, but even then it was just a few hundred here and there, mostly via contests. Not until the second week of April did we the number of testers finally begin to scale up dramatically, with 275,000 added from Battle.net account opt-ins, a glorious event occurred more than seven months into the beta test.
The biggest event came a week and a half ago, when the open beta weekend let everyone who hadn’t played yet (and who could slay the tech dragon that is the new Blizzard B.net launcher) got their chance on the realms. Well over 200,000 games and 500,000 players were online simultaneously during that event, and Blizzard seemed pleased with it from a tech fix aspect, as they crammed as many players as possible onto just one North American server. The full worldwide launch will feature additional server capacity in the US, as well as multiple servers in Europe and Asia, and after the last day and a half of the open beta weekend ran smoothly, many players feel fairly confident that launch day won’t be an unplayable traffic jam.
If you haven’t done so already, you should uninstall the Diablo III Beta from your computer before you start installing the full game. The Beta client can not be upgraded to the full game, and you do not want to give the Blizzard Launcher any confusion or potential interference from old game or Battle.net files.
Diablo 3 was Blizzard’s longest-awaited and longest-running beta ever, and Diablo III is the Blizzard title that’s had the longest time between announcement and launch — June 2008 – May 2012.
The Beta is dead. Long live the beta.! Farewell to the Beta, and now that you’re gone…. I miss you already.