It’s official. During the Activision Blizzard Q1 2011 Financial Results conference call held today at 1:30pm PDT (4:30pm EST), Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime officially announced Diablo III beta testing will commence this upcoming Q3 2011. It was not specified if it’s a fiscal Q3, or otherwise. One could extrapolate Diablo III Beta might start in early July, after the Diablo II anniversary, which coincides with the Diablo III official announcement held in Paris at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. Here is the quote from Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime during today’s Activision Blizzard Q1 2011 Financial Results conference call:
Morhaime: “On the Diablo III front, I’m pleased to report that we began internal company live testing last week. The game is looking great, and we are currently targeting a Q3 Launch for external beta testing. The development team is working hard to try and launch Diablo III this year. But I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet. As always we won’t compromise the quality of the game in order to hit a window.”
Note: Check back later today and tomorrow for the full transcript and recording sample.
Morhaime: Blizzard Entertainment has come up with the most successful year ever in 2010 shipping two record-breaking games in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. As we drive deeper into 2011, we are looking to build off that momentum by providing even more epic experiences to our players; and we are also working hard on our exciting pipeline of new games.
On our financial side, we got $357 million dollars in revenue and $170 million dollars in operating income. We’re pleased with the growth in the Blizzard community over the past year, and expect to grow further with the upcoming launch of Diablo III.
Looking at the World of Warcraft side of business, we were pleased to see record sales on the Cataclysm launch in Unites States and Europe which helps drive global subscribership. During the first quarter of 2011, as players have eagerly consumed the new content, we have seen subscribership return to pre-launch levels in the last.
We finished the quarter with 11.4 million subscribers worldwide. Moving forward our objective is to continue delivering new content to players in all regions to further energize our community. Our partners at NetEase are continuing to drive toward launching World of Warcraft: cataclysm later this year, which should reinvigorate that community with some new exciting content.
For all our other regions, we recently launched the first content update for Cataclysm. This update includes new dungeons, special rewards for guilds, and a feature to help players find a guild to join. Player feedback has been positive and as a result we have seen an increase in player engagement and higher daily concurrency.
In addition, we have another major update already in testing that includes new raids and quests content, as well as an exciting new dungeon journal that will make raids and dungeons more approachable for all players.
I also have some news to share in regards to our [?] services. We recently launched several [?] for World of Warcraft players in China, allowing our chinese community access most of the services available to players in other regions.
We also launched a mobile guild chat system. This new feature allows subscribers of our Premium World of Warcraft Remote Service to chat with their guildmates through mobile devices.
Finally, we announced a new premium mount that will be offered in the Blizzard Store in a near future.
Moving on to StarCraft II, the first quarter was an eventful one for this franchise. In addition to releasing new ladder and costume map content for our players, we also launched the game in China. Already, the China region is one of our largest communities for StarCraft II in terms of concurrency, and [effort?] is up to a great start in the region.
We’ve signed with several partners to run StarCraft II Tournaments in China, as well as a Chinese broadcast partner to televise Korean GSL matches in Chinese. As we look to the future of StarCraft II, the development team is also hard at work on the first expansion: Heart of the Swarm. We’ll be showcasing that game to worldwide press later on this month.
On the Diablo III front, I’m pleased to report that we began internal company live testing last week. The game is looking great, and we are currently targeting a Q3 Launch for external beta testing. The development team is working hard to try and launch Diablo III this year. But I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet. As always we won’t compromise the quality of the game in order to hit a window.
Lastly, I want to talk a little bit about BlizzCon. Tickets will be going on sale later this month, and as in the past we expect it to sold out quickly. We also offer the show via internet stream and DirecTV Pay-Per-View to reach our players who can’t make it out to the show. Last year we had more than 95,000 paid viewers join us via DirecTV or the live internet stream.
As always, we look forward to sharing exciting news with our community at this year’s show.
Thrilled? Excited? So are we. Get your official Diablo III T-shirt to celebrate Diablo III Beta details finally coming your way.
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