The Diablo Delay Debate

Posted by Daeity On Friday, December 30, 2011

If you're a regular reader, I apologize for the repetition in advance. Some of it you'll recognize, but there's a lot of new stuff.

The reason I'm doing this is because there's a lot of information scattered throughout the blog, and I wanted to make ONE POST that consolidated everything. So, I'm putting all of the pieces together here to create one comprehensive article of arguments that I can "sticky" to the front page.

The following is supporting evidence why I am fully convinced that the South Korean RMAH problems are the primary reason for the initial (and continued) delay of the Diablo 3 release.

Importance of Korean RMAH

On September 22, Blizzard management rushed to Korea to address sudden issues within the GRB approval process dealing with concerns over the RMAH and gambling.

Immediately the day after (September 23), Mike Morhaime published the “Soon” Was Too Soon -- Diablo III to Arrive in Early 2012 announcement.

This is key. Michael Morhaime, the Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard Entertainment made an unscheduled and rushed visit to Korea because of concerns regarding the RMAH & Gambling aspect of the game. He was also there with Robert Bridenbecker (VP of Online Technologies), Blizzard Korea Directors, and probably many other Senior Managers.

When the CEO of a major corporation gets involved in something, that's because it's extremely important and critical to the business (as well as the future of the business.)

Employees at the Blizzard US office very rarely even see Mike. He gets paid over $750k per year, and doesn't care about little things like rune decisions, polish, or minor bugs. His concerns consist of important and high level business decisions.

He didn't field questions by conference call, he didn't attend via video conference, he didn't get the Directors in Korea to handle it.. he jumped on a plane and traveled for over 15 hours.

So, the GRB delay was very very important to Blizzard. And when the CEO is involved, it's of the highest importance.

Immediately the day after, the release in all other countries was delayed. This was only made available in Korean newspapers, no one knew about this in NA/EU until I had made others aware of it. Unless Mike had jumped on a plane immediately after the press conference, there's a very strong chance that the Global Delay announcement was even made by Mike (remotely) while he was still physically located in South Korea. :)

So, yes. The decision to have the RMAH in the Korean game is EXTREMELY important to Blizzard and it did effect the launch in all other regions. Blogs & Articles

When that "Soon Was Too Soon" article was posted, did you know that this was the only time that Mike had ever published an article himself on the front page?

Most articles are prepared well in advance; several days to several weeks. Upcoming announcements, new features, new contests.. all of these are published by "Blizzard Entertainment" and prepared many days ahead of time. They typically wait until certain days, do some last minute checks, and then click "Publish".

This was a very last minute post, made by Mike the CEO himself. Not only was this totally out of character, but so was his posting time: 5:30AM.

Even the "Diableard Challenge" was cancelled, because everything by this point was completely up in the air and they had no idea what the new worldwide release date was going to be now.

We Have Been Given More Time

In this blue post, Blizzard confirms that because of the delay, they now have more time to add new features and services.

..the fact that some changes or features were added only after the announcement of the postponement of the game in 2012.

Having moved the release date, our development team has been available to the additional time they are using is to finish the game, but also to add items that were not able to be included with the old date of issue (or better with the old forecast).

Having more time means having more content.

Unfortunately, there comes a moment when we must draw a sharp line and decide that the game should be released and that some features or changes are not necessary.
Consider this very carefully and use all the powers of logic at your disposal.

The game was delayed. They now have time to add new features, new content, fix bugs, polish the game, adjust runes, balance characters.

Do you see the logic here? The runes, bug fixes or polish did not come BEFORE the delay, nor did they CAUSE the delay. There was "A DELAY", but now they have time to work on the runes, bugs, balancing, and polish. They also have more time to add NEW FEATURES and NEW CONTENT.

This means that it's NOT the runes, bugs, balancing, tweaking, or polish delaying the game. "Something else" delayed the game, but now they have time to work on all of those things.

And if they have so much extra time available to add NEW FEATURES and NEW CONTENT, doesn't that just speak volumes that there was nothing actually holding back the game? This means that the game was practically done, because now they can add NEW stuff. Because things are so open ended with the release date, they have so much extra time available that they can just add new features, services, and content.

If the game was delayed because of game-play issues, they would have been given extra time to correct those issues specifically. That's when they enter "crunch time", and work hard to get rid of those last minor issues. They wouldn't be using that time to add brand new features and content that would add new bugs, new balancing issues, and other new problems. No, they said that because of "THE DELAY", that they now had time to add new stuff. And because they made the distinction, "THE DELAY" has nothing to do with the game or game-play elements itself. That just leaves an external factor (or factors), without actually stating specifically what it is.

This should all be common sense.

Sometimes They're Not Good Sources

The best time to get useful or honest quotes or information from Blizzard is when the source is not paying attention, when they're answering another question (to which you can glean other information from), when they're caught off guard, or when they let something slip accidentally.

This is why a lot of the best or unannounced information comes from live interviews, unedited videos, or posts from Blizzard employees who reside outside of the US. Employees who work at Blizzard HQ are more careful about what they say or release. Those in other countries; not as much. (Where did that gigantic Product Slate, Subscribers, and Financials leak come from? Oh right, China.)

When a source is discussing a particular subject, they're very careful about what they say. They'll review their post, word and re-word it, and be very careful to make sure it's as ambiguous as possible. And when Bashiok is involved, his answers are very specifically ambiguous and open to interpretation. When he types, there's no commitment and no clear confirmation or denial. Just like any good politician. :)

You've seen this sort of ambiguous Blizzard response in the past. For example, in regards to the "rumors" that "Mists of Pandaria" was going to be the name of the next WOW expansion pack, and that the Pandaren were going to be in the game, Tom Chilton (Game Director and Lead Game Designer for World of Warcraft) said that this belief was only speculation and "wildly overhyped." And that, "if you look at traditionally how we've handled that race it's been in those secondary products because we haven't realized it in the world. Most of the time when we do anything panda-related it's going to be a comic book or a figurine or something like that."

Many users and gaming sites took this as a DENIAL that MoP was the next expansion pack or could have possibly involved the Pandaren in any way. Smarter people knew, though, that he was neither confirming nor denying anything. You might as well have just ignored everything he said, because he wasn't telling you anything.

Here is Bashiok's primary RMAH Korea post that he and others frequently link back to:
Thank you for voicing your concerns, Starbird. I realize you and many other people are excited to play the game, and are probably feeling a bit let down that we haven’t yet announced a release date. While you bring up a number of points of speculation, I just want to cut right to it and state that the reason we don’t have a release date yet is because the game isn’t yet where we want it to be in terms of our quality standards. We aren’t holding it back on account of any one piece of the game, or for any other outside factors. While it is indeed playable from beginning to end, we’re still actively working on many individual game elements and the ways that they interact with one another, with a great deal of iterative tweaking, balancing, polishing, adjusting, redesigning, and retesting going on. We’re going to continue beta testing, and before too long that’s going to include a large influx of new invites.

Much of this iteration obviously takes place behind closed doors, so I can sympathize with the concerns about the lack of visible progress, and the sentiment that we should just go ahead and ship the game. Until we’re able to reveal more of the results, I can only assure you that we are indeed working on critical game systems that directly impact the core of the experience.

I also realize a lot of people were hoping for a release date announcement at the VGAs. We’re simply not going to be able to dispel or comment on release date rumors and speculation every time someone expects an announcement. We’ll be announcing a release date when we determine the game is ready, and not holding it back just to line it up with any particular game-industry event.

The bottom line is that development of our games and preparations for release are long and complicated. We’re just as excited to get the final version into your hands as you are to play it, but making sure it lives up to our quality standards will always be the most important factor in that process.
What does he really say here though?

He says,
  • that they don't have a release date because it's not ready yet.
  • that they're not holding it back on account of only 1 piece of the game or 1 piece of some outside factor.
  • that they're actively working on tweaking, balancing, polishing, etc. (But, all of that stuff that have been given extra time to work on since "the delay".)
  • that he can only assure you that they're were working on game systems.
  • that they'll announce when they're ready.
  • and that development time of games is long and complicated.
He doesn't confirm or deny anything; he says nothing. This can't be used as a source of information for anything, other than that they're working on the game still.

He even used a thesaurus for describing "the great deal" of the so many things going on in the development process: "tweaking, balancing, polishing, adjusting, redesigning, and retesting". That's the same thing! Seriously.. look up a thesaurus.. other than "testing", everything he said was the same thing but described differently.

And then there's this post from Bashiok later:
"I don't know what translation you're reading but no where has it been stated the release of the game on a whole is delayed because of a GRB rating. Might it delay the game in Korea? I suppose no one knows, but we still have some time since the game is not finished. We're playing internal builds, the entire game, we'd know if it was. I'd know."
What interests me is that he deleted it shortly after posting it. Read it over.. what is so seriously wrong with the post that he had to delete? Is it abusive or rude? Nope. Is he trolling? Nope.

Perhaps the problem with his post is that it wasn't ambiguous enough. :)

He says,
  • Blizzard has not stated anywhere that the global release is delayed because of the GRB rating.
  • the global release of the game is NOT DELAYED "ON A WHOLE" because of Korea.
  • No one knows if the GRB rating in Korea will delay the game in Korea.
  • They still have some time since the game is not finished.
  • They're playing internal builds and the "entire game." (Hey, I thought it wasn't finished?)
It's perfectly honest and truthful to say that the SK Ratings issue is not the reason for the delay of the game AS A WHOLE. For example, the SK issues might be the leading reason, might have caused the delay, but it's not the reason for the current delay. Right now, it's 99% of the reason, and 1% of the reason is all of the new bugs and features that they have added since the delay. It's all about wording. There's nothing dishonest or incorrect about what Bashiok is saying at all.

In either scenario though, you can't take it as a confirmation or denial.. it's too ambiguous.


And what kind of actions have been taken? The Book of Cain was postponed, even though it was published, done, and ready to ship. Forum posts were deleted (it's the deleted posts that are the most important). New forum pages were created. CEO and managers took an emergency trip to Korea. Every announcement or delay comes right after updates from the GRB. Timing of the delay announcements, and everything else listed in this post.

The Plot Thickens

So, here's a direct link to the original Bashiok post (mentioned above) that was deleted. As you can see, #225 and #227 are there, but #226 is gone.

If you go to the Diablofans Blizztracker, the full original entry is archived there.

But look at D3SANC's entry for Bashiok's post. (Scroll to the very bottom.)

No, you're not losing your mind. Bashiok's post has been heavily edited, with a significant portion of the original post cut out.

The thing is.. this is a deleted post, it's doesn't exist. Why would D3SANC go back and edit it to remove that certain paragraph from the post. The whole thing was deleted, they should have just removed the entire entry so that they're properly mirroring the forums.

I'm not sure what's going on here, so I asked D3SANC for a clarification. Apparently, they answer their emails within a couple minutes or it might take a couple hours at the very most. It's been a couple days now, and still nothing.

It's not unusual for Blizzard to ask fan sites to remove information that they don't want users to know about. But at this point, I have no explanation for why the entry was edited or cut out.. so, I have my suspicions but that's all they are.

Blizzard Wants It To Be A Global Release

If you are committed to a global release, then it has to be released in all countries simultaneously correct? If one country is having problems, then it needs to be delayed for all other countries.

During their Q2 2011 Financial Results in August, Activision Blizzard described Diablo 3 as a "global release". This is wording that has never been used before to describe any of their past games. It was announced publicly and to their shareholders.

They even developed a global version of the game. Back in October 2011, Robert Bridenbecker (VP of Online Technologies) described the game as their first "region free" game. As Robert explained, "When you buy Diablo 3, you're buying Diablo 3." You can play it anywhere in the world, it's not region locked, and players can select any server they want, and any language they want.

This game can be bought in any country and you can play it in any other country you want. When (or if) the Digital Pre-Downloads go up, it's going to be a worldwide global launch whether Blizzard actually wants it to or not. But, of course, it makes perfect sense for Blizzard to launch globally since they're producing a region free game.

In their "Soon is Too Soon" news release, they made a global announcement ("As we're announcing globally today..") In this announcement, they state that they were originally targeting the game for end of 2011 (end of Nov release date). This wasn't a specific country or regional announcement like they've done for WOW, Starcraft, and all previous games, this was a GLOBAL announcement and a global change that all countries needed to be aware of.

In that same announcement, they also stated that "Blizzard will use the additional time to extend the Diablo III closed beta test." Additional time to add more new services and features.. and more stalling to keep players busy. (More on this later.)

Zhydaris of EU stated that they are intending on having a global release.

Blizzard Korea officially described Diablo 3 as a "Global Version" in their application for consideration.

Blizzard wants this game to be a global release. It's being developed as a global game, it's being sold as a global game, it's being described as a global game in official documentation, and Blizzard has described their intention to make it a global game. This piece alone, skipping all other supporting evidence, should be enough to show that Blizzard wants the game to launch simultaneously worldwide.

It could have still been launched globally this past November, if they had cut out the RMAH completely from the Korea launch knowing that there would have been issues with their new legislation. Instead, they delayed it, then they missed including RMAH related documentation in their approvals submissions, delayed again, then they offered to remove only the cash-out feature only, and it was delayed yet again. They really want a paid RMAH system within the Korean Diablo release.


On January 4, an official news source confirmed that Blizzard is committing to a global release (spokesperson from Blizzard was quoted.) They also confirmed that Blizzard is planning on a simultaneous global launch, that it will be a region-free game for the first time in it's history, and because of this the Korean GRB's decision is preventing the launch in other countries. This is from an official news source that is held to journalistic standards.. not an anonymous forum post, not a blog, not a fan/gaming site.

Runes, Bug Fixes and More Layers of Polish

These are apparently the biggest issues holding back the release and what many users are constantly reiterating.

The list seems a awfully light don't you think? THESE are the reasons for the delay? That's it? What doesn't make sense is that the beta was already polished, there were very few bugs (and minor ones at that), and the rune system was ready.

Starcraft 2, on the other hand, was delayed because WOTLK was taking up the majority of the development team's time, Blizzard didn't want it to conflict with the MF2 launch, there were still stability issues (plus bugs & polish just like D3), and because the service and the technology was not prepared. It was officially delayed because "essential" and "integral" parts of the game and were missing.

However, Diablo has been delayed for several months because they still need to fix their runes, bugs, and add more polish. That must be a LOT of work.. the entire development team must be working on it. Gosh golly.. you know, they might even need to bring in more workers from other departments to help out. And, of course, Blizzard would never launch a game that has bugs in it.. World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2 have never had ANY bugs since launch. Melting videos cards was a "feature."

If they've been polishing the game over the past 5 months, as Bashiok has stated, why is it taking so long.. and where exactly IS this polish? I had thought polish were last minute additions and graphical tweaks to clean everything up. But, they're adding new features and new content.

If this is true that they're applying more layers of polish, it means that retail will be far more polished than the beta. How much do you want to bet it will still look the same?

How about the bugs? When the beta first came out, users were very impressed on how well polished and bug free the game was. Bugs only started happening AFTER Blizzard started adding new features (like Simple ToolTips) which only came AFTER some unknown delay. They were given more time to add new content, new assets, and new features that were all supposed to be added post-retail. So, the bugs you're seeing now are the ones that were supposed to be there a few months after launch. Except, there probably would have been more emphasis on correcting them more quickly. As beta players are seeing, the minor bugs currently in the beta are being fixed very slowly or not being fixed at all. Are they game breaking bugs? Nope. Game frequently crashing? Nope. Minor bugs? Yup. I'm willing to bet too that many of the beta bugs will also be present in retail. The same thing happened with all of their other games.

And finally, how about the big one: runes.

Jay Wilson already said that the Rune system was good enough to ship as is. The team has been experimenting with different rune systems, and Jay said that they're trying about 2-3 different ideas. If they're ready and the dev team likes them, they'll see how the players like them. However, they're just ideas and they are not a deal breaker. Jay said;
"The system is already cool as it is, so if it does work (the new rune system), we'll just leave it as it is."
Jay made it clear that the rune system would not hold back the release. They just have many options available right now, but they like the old system. They would like to test out new things, but most of these changes will be done post-retail just like the WOW talent system. How many iterations and tweaks has the talent tree undergone since launch?

During an October 22 2011 interview with Jay Wilson and David Adams, Jay confirmed that the rune system WILL NOT hold back the game release and that the team working on the runes just has the luxury right now to play around with different versions. At the 6:10 mark, Jay says that runes is not a big thing and not the "final thing" that they're finishing up. What they are finishing up for the release, however, are "mostly the game wide polish, bug fixing, and some technology.. online technology.. things like that." You should watch this portion of the video and see his mannerisms while trying to explain what's holding back the game. :)

On November 29 (last month), even Bashiok wrote that they'll go back to the original "totally awesome" system if they don't like the testing results of their other ideas. (This echoed exactly what Jay Wilson had stated months earlier.)
"We actually have moved on from the previously discussed unattuned system. We've been trying many different ideas out, but we're not quite comfortable enough with any of them yet to invite you in and see what you think.

Let me also say that the old system wasn't broken, per-se, it just had a few issues we thought we could resolve. Runestones are a huge part of Diablo III, and we think it's worth trying out some alternatives and see if we can't improve it. But if all of our experiments fail we can easily go back to the original system, and it will still be totally awesome."
Basically, they scrapped the unattuned system, they're experimenting with other new systems, but the old system is great and it's their primary fallback. The old system is also "totally awesome". Runes are ready, they're not going to hold back the game.

So what's left? Runes are done. There's no more polish needed. Bugs are new, but there's little time spent on them and they're only here now because they were given more time due to some other external delay. If that's the case, then the delay couldn't possibly be related to the bugs, polish, or runes.

More Stalling

(Much of this you can find in earlier posts.)

* Diablo 3 was supposed to be released late November.

* During Blizzcon 2010, Jay Wilson originally expected that the D3 beta would run for "six months" before release but this wasn't the beta you have now. It was going to be at least the first 3 acts.

* During Blizzcon 2009, users were able to play through the full Act 1 and Act 2, Act 3 was revealed, Act 4 was kept as a surprise for release, and in 2010 they were able to play the PVP portion. Based on Blizzard comments at the time, players were expecting that the beta would be Act 1, Act 2 and possibly a portion of Act 3 (since Jay Wilson confirmed that Act 4 would be the smallest Act.) Even Bashiok said in April 2011 that the beta would consist of the first 3 acts: "You’ve actually seen some of the first three Acts already, and we probably won’t be revealing too much more than what we’ve already shown." The last act(s) and additional difficulty levels were going to be "a surprise" saved for the retail.

* In 2011, the beta was shortened to a 2-3 month testing period and just a fraction of Act 1 because they only needed to test servers, network, and the new auction house systems. The plan was to release it before Christmas.

* Now, shouldn't the small beta size also be a major clue as to how much progress was really made to the game? The game was done, it was ready, they didn't need the full game to be tested by users for feedback, and instead they just released a very small tech demo. That's just how complete the game really was.

* On September 22, Blizzard C-Levels rushed to Korea to deal with the fallout of the GRB approval process and their questioning about the gambling aspects of the RMAH.

* On September 23, Blizzard immediately published their "Soon Was Too Soon -- Diablo III to Arrive in Early 2012" announcement. Coincidence? :)

* Right after Blizzcon, even the Book of Cain was suddenly pushed back from it's November 15 release date to an undecided time. This happened even though the Book of Cain was done, published, stocked, and ready to ship. Several copies were also sent out months before release to reviewers. This left many people completely baffled as to why it was pushed back.

* The GRB's "final decision" was about 1 week away. On Nov 21, Rob Pardo tweeted "time to get serious and work hard on Diablo 3" possibly indicating that they were getting close to crunchtime.

* On November 30 (or possibly Nov 29), Blizzard received an update from the GRB that they were still in deliberations and a final decision would probably be made by January.

* Suddenly, there was a huge explosion of Diablo information.

* On November 30, Blizzard announced the official release date (Dec 13) for the Book of Cain following several date changes over the previous months.

* On December 1 (the day after), the Global RMAH testing was announced. Blizzard also started releasing information on items and Artisans and new pages were published. All within a very short period of time, almost as if they were just waiting for weeks for someone to finally click "Publish."

* The "Day In a Life" series was originally supposed to be 3 interviews. After this announcement, the page was redesigned, new content was uploaded, and it was expanded to 5 employee interviews instead of 3.

* On December 5, Blizzard Korea also made an official update on the Korean site about the delays of the game and the status updates on rating approvals. They stated that the Diablo 3 release was being held back because of issues with the GRB.

* On December 8, AUS Beta Key contest announced. Contest expires on Dec 31.

* On December 9, Blizzard finally revealed the long predicted " Balance" system and that it would be rolled out within a few weeks (ie, 2-3 weeks time).

* On Friday Dec 16, Blizzard received notification from the Korean GRB that more information was needed. The hearing was schedule for Dec 21 for their answer, however it was cancelled and postponed until Blizzard could provide proper data. (They were given 7 days to reply.)

* On Monday Dec 19, this news made front pages of Korean news sites.

* On this same day, a major wave of opt-in beta keys went out. The next day, Blizzard announced a new US-based beta giveaway which overlapped with the last week of Facebook giveaway. Also, the number of keys available didn't match per capita with the AU/NZ beta key contest. It expires Jan 23 2012. (More stalling.)

* On Dec 22, the SK GRB received Blizzard's resubmission for a rating, however they are excluding the "cashing-out" function of the Real Money Auction House this time around. Players will still be charged money, however, but the money will be stored as Bucks instead which can only be used for Blizzard goods and services.

* The GRB's next "final decision" is scheduled for Wednesday, January 4 2012.

* On January 4 2012, Jay Wilson tweeted "Asia is not holding us back. You'll know soon enough." The first time a senior manager commented on the SK Release Debate.

* Since polishing is obviously not the hold-up, the only other public item they have announced are runes. Runes should not cause any delays though. They have multiple iterations of the rune system, and I don't think it has anything to do with the how they designed them but rather how they will be used. Because runes are item drops, and their rarity can be controlled, I suspect that the Diablo team might be trying to monetize runes. If there are rare item drops, they can be sold on the RMAH. This makes runes very restricted for the development team and it does not leave them many options for innovation. Because of this problem, there's a very good chance that itemized runes will be removed (ie, they can no longer be sold on the RMAH), and simply changed to skill "level ups" like in World of Warcraft. By using this approach, they can spread out skill level ups from 1-60 but find another way to monetize "runes" such as +skill gear like in Diablo II. I will discuss this topic in another future post, because there are many problems having item-based skills.

* "Final decision" postponed again. They'll be meeting to "finalize" again on Friday, January 6 2012. (Which was postponed again too.)

* On January 5 2012, Bashiok stated that they are not in a polishing stage yet.
It's making sure everything is perfect. We're not really in a strictly polishing phase yet though, although certainly that's true for some areas of the game. Still, we're in the process of working on some rather large game system changes, some of which we'll be sharing shortly before or with the next beta patch.
For several months, Bashiok and other Blizzard employees have been stating that they have been polishing the game, which is the cause of the delay, and that they're in it's final stages. However, now Bashiok has re-clarified that they're in fact, NOT in the polishing stage and that they're adding large game system changes.

* On January 5 2012, Bashiok also confirmed that they're now planning for a release in First Quarter 2012. Previously, they planned on a release at "the end of 2011".

* On January 7 2012, I noticed an explosion of new information, and due to this, I suspected that something must have happened internally with the GRB or Blizzard revised their submission again to remove the RMAH entirely.

* On January 12 2012, that game was approved by the SK Game Ratings Board. It also came with the revelation that Blizzard had submitted a THIRD revision of the game that no one knew about. This third revision removed the RMAH entirely. (The first version had the full RMAH, second version had RMAH only for B.Net Credits, and the third version apparently only has the Gold Auction House.)

* Considering how extremely important the SK RMAH was, prompting visits from C-Level Executives and even revisions to the Ratings Submission, it is highly unusual that Blizzard now wants to remove the RMAH completely. If SK was not a concern and it did not impact other countries, they could have just launched the game in every other geography but without selling it in SK at all. But instead, they removed a critical piece and all signs point towards a global release.

* Also on January 12 2012, Zarhym stated that Jay Wilson will be posting a large status update on the state of the game and beta. It will be posted late in the week (meaning Friday, January 20th) followed by an update to the beta servers.

* On January 13 2012, Bashiok released information about the Korean server that contradicted information provided by The Korean Times and the GRB.
With an NA account you'll be able to play everywhere, but you'll only be able to use the currency-based auction house in NA.

Just for normal play, imagine it like Diablo II. On every region you have access it's a completely separate database, different gold auction house, and you have a different set of 10 characters available. Each region is a separate 'realm' of the game.

We'll have more information about the whole cross-regional play closer to launch.
Sorry, it's a bit confusing to explain even though it's extremely simple and obvious in practice.
Pretty solid, of course nothing is guaranteed.
Yes the whole point is you can change regions in-game.
You're welcome. :)
I'm unaware of all the regional breakdowns. I'd wait for the more info I referenced.
Hrm. Well Korea still has a currency-based auction house, there's just no current cash out functionality. They can buy and sell items and still build up their balance to buy Blizzard goods and services from the store.
Deleting my response until I can verify what actually occurred. Maybe I'm incorrect in my understanding of what was submitted for approval.
So, I was right, they have an auction house that uses balance, which is separate from the gold auction house. There are some details I'm still fuzzy on because the Korea balance works a bit differently from ours.

In any case, it won't be the currency-free option you're looking for.
This thread is broken, IMO. If you have a specific question or topic to discuss please create a new thread for that specific topic. Also! Stop getting so angry.
Thread was locked for several hours, but then the thread was suddenly deleted shortly after.

* On January 19, Jay Wilson's post finally went live to the anticipation of many. Users were led to believe that the post would detail a complete explanation of the major jobs that they have been working on since "The Delay" in September 2010. It was meant to justify why the SK issues had nothing to do with the delay. Instead, they were surprised when they were confronted with a simple bug patch list of minor tweaks that were already completed and ready for the next beta patch. What was supposed to be an explanation of the long delay was instead an update of the minor changes that they had been working on over a few weeks.

* It has been 7 weeks now, and the Balance feature has still not rolled out. It was supposed to be rolled out within 2-3 weeks of December 9, 2011. Considering JW's post and the lack of RMAH progress, this leads me to believe that the current delay is quite possibly related to the B.Net Balance / RMAH / PayPal integration. There may even be problems that PayPal is experiencing; for example, they would be the ones facing prosecution and taking the risks if the game is declared illegal gambling (the SK issues may have raised concerns.) This current delay might also have to do with a new D3 version being prepared for South Korea since Cash Trading is no longer permitted. (I have talked about this before, and what to expect if the game goes live but the RMAH is removed.) I'll know more once the game goes live though.

* On January 31, 2012 the new Terms of Use (which included the new Diablo 3 and RMAH updates) were finally published for NA & EU. However, the document shows a Last Revised date of December 10, 2011.

* On Monday, Feb 6 it was predicted that there would be a big announcement released, the Balance finally launched, PayPal finally integrated allowing purchases and payments, and all of this would logically be accompanied by a Release Date announcement (since Monday, before the Shareholders Meeting was the most logical.) A Release Date announcement was made, just not the kind that everyone was hoping for. Previously, I had stated that if a release date announcement was not made by the Monday, then the chances of a Q1 release quickly diminishes, meaning a Q2 release.

* On Feb 9, Bashiok confirmed that they decided that week to delay to Q2 instead, meaning that a Monday announcement was highly likely. On Feb 18, the week following the Shareholders Meeting, a Blizzard leak confirmed that they already had a Release Date set, meaning that they could have announced it right before the investor's call.

* On Feb 17, it was revealed that the entire game was overhauled because Listing Fees had to be removed from the RMAH. This was a huge financial loss for Blizzard, and the only reason for making this change was because of Illegal Online Gambling concerns. By removing Listing Fees, they removed the player's monetary risk and avoided future legal complications.

* On Feb 18, Blizzard also revealed a major overhaul to the Rune System (which was blamed for the past several months of delays), which was changed due to the major overhaul of the RMAH and complications trying to monetize the items. They are no longer monetizing Runes, and a trend is emerging showing that all of these delays simply relate back to the RMAH and gambling.

* On March 15, Blizzard has finally announced the official Release Date (May 15, 2012). They have also confirmed that the game is indeed a global release (all countries will be able to play it on the same day) and it is a region free game.

Frequently Asked Questions

I'll leave this space open for FAQs. As the game and announcements progress, or if I realize that I missed anything in the post above, I'll update this document.

Q: Even Blizzard's new submission has the RMAH. Why can't they just leave the RMAH completely out of Korea so that it can finally launch?

A: Even though Korea represents a major portion of their sales and RMAH usage (they're in the top 10), it's not just about the money. If Korea does not have the RMAH implemented, it's going to be a logistical and account management nightmare for Blizzard. The game is region free, and Korean players could use the RMAH in other countries. Blizzard would then be supporting illegal gambling (and for minors.) It would be very bad for the company. It's much easier for them, and more lucrative, to wait. Their last resort is not to release D3 in Korea, and therefore make it illegal for users to play the game. That way, Blizzard is not held liable for user's actions, and the government must regulate it's use on their own.

Q: Why doesn't Blizzard just tell everyone what's going on?

A: Are you kidding me? "Hey, this game is being delayed because of one country. We really want the game there, because we make more money and it's easier for us so that we don't need to create a lot of new security systems. You could have been playing this game in November 2011, but this is all about us, not our players." Yeah, that will go over really well.

Q: Will I be a total douchebag if I don't read anything you've written, but then attempt to refute one of your claims and use that as proof that everything here is incorrect?

A: Yes. Only weak and unintelligent individuals will try to take one small part of a massive list of arguments, try to disprove it, and then use that single reference as "proof" that everything else is null and void.
"You misspelled 'their'. How can I take any of this seriously? Since the spelling is wrong, the argument is wrong, and therefore EVERYTHING written is wrong. QED."
Q: Wow, you collected a lot of stuff. It looks like Blizzard employees release a great deal of information about their games and inner-workings that no one knows about in the US. Where can I find this stuff myself?

A: First, go to "". Here are some sites to get you started:

Q: Hey, you missed that really important post where you or someone else discussed X and how it impacted Y. Can you please add it to the list?

A: Sure, just leave a comment with links, sources, proof, etc. If I missed anything, I'll add it to the list.

Q: There are some posts on the EU forums from blue that mention a "global launch." What's all that about?

A: No one is supposed to know about that, and blue isn't supposed to be talking about it or mentioning it. A "global launch" for Diablo 3 hasn't been officially announced yet and Blizzard won't be announcing it until they get full approval from Korea. Blue forum posters shouldn't be assuming it will be a global launch, after all. That's the plan, but if it gets rejected, it won't be a simultaneous worldwide launch.