If you've been reading older comments, I've been anticipating another little "something something" this coming week (Mon Feb 20 - Fri Feb 24). I figure that if I commit to a prediction closer to the date in question, there's a less likely chance of plans being altered due to one particular individual who "runes" surprises. :)
As you've known for a while now, Bashiok and Zarhym announced an upcoming trip to Paris, to "trade strategies" with the EU CM team. They're in Paris right now, and traveled a couple days ago.
Exchanging strategies is something that could easily have been done over email or video conference, though, and considering how frugal Blizzard is with things like travel expenses, I think there's another reason they're in Paris other than "just to exchange ideas". It's more likely that they're in the EU with a specific purpose, and they're probably working with the teams to prepare them for something big.
Bashiok is denying, in regular Bashiok fashion, that they are not there for anything to do with beta testing in the EU.
I didn't think about that. People are going to think we came out to plug in EU beta servers. Funny.However, that just makes me even more suspicious and I think it's actually a cover for something else going on.
Seeing as how they traveled before the weekend, rather than at the start or middle of next week, there's a very high probability of an announcement early in the week (Monday most likely.) It won't be a release date announcement, mind you.. even though they have an internal release date scheduled, it's still too early to announce it so close to this past Shareholder's meeting.
Because they are visiting Paris, I suspect that it will be an EU specific announcement or something EU related happening. And because EU has been promised beta keys in the near future, this is probably the best time to do it with all of the other excitement taking place in NA.
Back on February 6, Nakatoir hinted that there will be "more information in the following weeks about the global giveaways as well as for regional betas for you." There's a very high probability that this will happen within the next few days, and ideally early in the week since Bashiok and Zarhym need to hop on another plane at the end of the week to travel again.
Don't expect beta keys to be immediately available though. It will probably be much like the US giveaway; there will be various contests, sweepstakes, instructions, region specific stuff, twitter stuff, a lot of rules (regional restrictions), and starting & ending dates.
(Just a note, they're not technically "physical beta keys" that are being given away. It will be just like the US contests where you submit your email address, the fansite forwards their account lists to Blizzard, and Blizzard upgrades your Battle.net Account with "the beta key.")
There are also hints in that same Nakatoir posting that NA was used primarily for heavy server performance testing, which tells me that they're not going to worry about the same so much in EU. Meaning, that you should not expect as many beta keys to be given away in the EU that were given away in NA. And, they will probably be divided up (Network Team's choice) into multiple regions for varied testing (and latency) metrics.
* UPDATE (02/20/12):
Confirmed! Diablo3x.com via their Facebook account, just confirmed that they received 150 beta keys from Blizzard France and that they will be providing an update soon.
And, svenskadiablo.se also confirmed that they have received 225 beta keys that they can give away on February 20 (today) and more on March 5.
Dear www.svenskadiablo.se,Something tells me that they weren't supposed to announce these until today though and it was supposed to be after Blizzard had already made their own official announcement (just like they did in the US.) Have any other EU fansites announced (leaked?) that they have received beta keys?
We're happy to tell you that from the 20th of February, we have 150 Diablo III beta slots for you to sacrifice to your community through contests and / or sweepstakes. Additionally, from the 5th of March, you can offer a second wave consisting of 75 slots.
Diablo3.gamona.de have just posted their official announcement, and rules for their contests. So, they're giving away their (150) beta keys now.
Now, it's just sitting tight for the Official EU Battle.net forum post. I think some of these giveaways were a little premature. :)
And.. diablo3.ingame.de just announced the start of their own contest (150 keys) too! (Thanks anonymous.)
Here's a list of their authorized/official fansites, so they should be receiving keys in various quantities. I'll update the list when (if) they make their announcements.
English / D3Expert.com: http://www.d3expert.com/
English / Diablo3X.com: http://diablo3x.com/ (150 keys)
English / Gosugamers: http://www.gosugamers.net/diablo
Danish / Diablo3x.dk: http://www.diablo3x.dk (TBA keys)
Finnish / Goblin Explosives Network: http://www.goblinexplosives.net
Hungarian / Diablo III Hungary: http://diablo3.hu
Serbian / Diablo.rs: http://www.diablo.rs/
Swedish / Svenskadiablo.se: http://www.svenskadiablo.se (225 keys)
Turkish / Blizzturk: http://blizzturk.com/diablo
German / Diablo-3.net: http://www.diablo-3.net
German / InDiablo.de: http://www.indiablo.de aka ingame.de (150 keys)
German / DIII.de: http://diablo3.gamona.de (150 keys)
German / Diablo 3 Source: http://diablo3.4fansites.de/
French / GamersOrigin: http://diablo3.gamersorigin.com/ (100 keys)
French / JeuxOnline: http://diablo3.jeuxonline.info/
French / Judgehype: http://diablo3.judgehype.com/ (225 keys)
French / Millenium: http://www.millenium.org/diablo-3/accueil/news/ (TBA keys)
French / Mondes persistants: http://diablo.mondespersistants.com/ (TBA keys)
Spanish / Diablo 3 ESP: http://www.diablo3-esp.com/ (150 keys)
Russian / BlizzGame.ru: http://diablo.blizzgame.ru/
Russian / Warcry.ru: http://www.warcry.ru
Italian / BattleCraft.it: http://www.battlecraft.it (100 keys)
Polish / Battlenet Network: http://diablo3.net.pl (150 keys incl. 25 reserved)
Polish / Diablo III Poland: http://diablo3.com.pl/ (150 keys)
Unofficial, but too big to ignore:
http://tweakers.net (400 keys)
http://mygaming.co.za (450 keys)
Also, most of the sites who have "150 keys" might actually have received 225 or more. These are just the ones they're giving away for the first wave, but there's still a second.. plus the ones they reserve for staff members and friends.
I'm surprised no one from Reddit has picked up on any of this yet.. it's been a few hours now. So, if you're look for some free karma, you may want to link to this useful information in /r/diablo.
Apparently, Bashiok updated his US post this morning (02/20/12 @ 8:38AM PST) with additional (non-NA) beta giveaways:
D3Downunder: http://d3downunder.com (100 keys)
AusGamers: http://ausgamers.com (125 keys)
* UPDATE (02/21/12):
And there it is.. official Blizzard announcement regarding the EU fansite beta giveaways. :)
You can continue using that link instead of the ones I created above now.
Funny how so many fansites launched the official Blizzard contest, before Blizzard even made the announcement. And, as you can see, they aren't giving away as many keys as they did in NA.
They're still updating, and trying to collect information from the various fansites. It's still going to take a lot of time, manpower, and organization to manage all of these contests and sweepstakes from so many fansites in the EU. This is the job of Community Managers. Still think it's a coincidence that 2 CMs from HQ experienced with these contests paid them a visit? :)
I don't think they have much time to exchange strategies and pal around during the craziness this week (plus, with all of the forum outrage over the lack of keys.) I think Bashiok and Zarhym are there to help out.