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Diablo is an fantasy action role-playing game developed and released by Blizzard Entertainment. Set in the fictional Kingdom of Khanduras, the player assumes the role of a lone warrior on a mission to battle and eliminate the reign of Diablo, the Lord of Terror.
The original title Diablo was designed by Blizzard Entertainment’s staff artists including Erich Schaefer, David Brevik, Max Schaefer, Eric Sexton and Ken Williams and the soundtrack was composed by Matt Uelmen. Upon its release on December 31st, 1996., the game received positive user ratings and critical acclaims from major review publications like GameSpot and Computer Games Magazine, most notably for its addictive point-and-click gameplay, a variety of usable weapon items and magic spells, as well as its online multiplayer support through Battle.net. Following its commercial success, Diablo has since spawned two expansion titles Diablo: Hellfire and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction as well as two sequels Diablo II in June 2000 and the third title Diablo III in May 2012.
The sequel title Diablo II was released on June 29th, 2000, which continued to build on the popular fantasy themes, point-and-click gameplay and online multiplay of the original title. The game introduced five new classes of characters (Amazon, Necromancer, Barbarian, Sorceress, and Paladin) and numerous magic spells optimized for online multiplay, such as war cries that multiplied in effectiveness when cast within a party of characters in open space.
The third installment Diablo III was first announced during Blizzard’s 2008 Worldwide Invitational event held in Paris, France. As with the previous titles, the game takes place in Sanctuary twenty years after surviving the onslaught brought by the armies of the Burning Hells. Prior to its release on May 15th, 2012, the game broke several pre-sale records and became the most pre-ordered PC game of all time on Amazon.
Most actions and commands that are essential to the gameplay can be executed by using the left and right mouse buttons. The player can control and command his/her protagonist character to a desired location or attack an enemy target with the left mouse button, while spells and special abilities can be dispensed with the right mouse button. It also enabled users to save their progress in the single-player mode at any time. Diablo has been credited with creating a sub-genre of point-and-click action RPGs. Since the release of the original title, many other role-playing games have adopted similar styles of gameplay and combat control.
The game was awarded the “1996 Game of the Year Award” by GameSpot and as of May 2012, it still stands at GameSpot’s #1 PC games of all time, with a score of 9.6 out of 10. Reflecting the legacy of the original title, the release of Diablo II also earned a Guinness World Record in 2000 for being the fastest selling computer game with more than 1 million units sold in the first two weeks of release. By August 2001, the sequel title had sold 4 million copies worldwide and received numerous awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences including the “2001 Game of the Year.”
Diablo III Release
Considering the legacies of Diablo on the genre of role-playing games and the gap between the sequels, the fans’ anticipation for the May 2012 release of Diablo III was unprecedented in scale; more than 2 million people pre-ordered the title and more than 8,000 midnight launch events were held in game retail stores across the world. The first known cinematic trailer for Diablo III was uploaded via YouTube on June 28th, 2008.
The online buzz surrounding Diablo III began months before the date of official release, fueled by an extensive and in-depth coverage in the gaming blogosphere as well as active discussions on gamer-friendly communities like 4chan’s /v/ (videogame) board and Reddit’s /r/diablo subreddit among others. Days before its release on May 9th, 2012, an Amazon.com spokesperson announced that Diablo III became the most pre-ordered PC game of all-time on the online shopping hub-site, exceeding the previous records set by Blizzard’s StarCraft II and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
Pre-Order Fiasco in Australia
On the day before the release, many Australian gamers who pre-ordered the title were suddenly left without their guaranteed copies when one of the country’s largest retail chains GAME filed bankruptcy. On the following day, Blizzard released an official statement to appease its Australian customers by offering them an alternative method of purchase.
“Due to the appointment of an administrator to our business this morning, it is with regret that I inform you all that our stores will not be receiving any stock of diablo 3. Because of this, we regrettably will be unable to fulfill any pre-orders. Also, we will be unable to refund any deposits paid towards a pre-order of diablo 3. If you need any more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org”
When Blizzard finally launched the Diablo III server at 12:01 a.m. (PDT) on May 15th, 2012, the long-awaited event was marred by various technical issues due to a sudden influx of traffic onto the Battle.net servers. One of the most commonly experienced issues was the massive login failure labeled “Error 37,” which practically locked the users out of the game including the single-player campaign.
Unable to access the servers, many fans naturally took their frustration to the Internet with a slew of image macros and forum posts regarding the technical difficulty.
Diablo III Secret Cow Level: WhimyShire
Shortly after its release, it was revealed that the game contains a secret level with nonsensical themes similar to the notorious Secret Cow Level featured in Diablo II. Titled “WhimyShire,” the bonus map featured a brightly-colored landscape with rainbows and smiling clouds, as well as the 1980s pop rock single “You’re The Best Around” by Joe Esposito. In this level, the player’s mission is to slay as many unicorns as possible.
Chinese Codename: Big Pineapple
Meanwhile in China, the release of Diablo III has was put on indefinite hold due to the domestic law that requires imported games to be approved for sale by the government’s Ministry of Culture. The review process, which could take several months as it did with the release of Starcraft II in 2010, led many internet users to seek digital copies of the Taiwanese version (shown below) through e-commerce sites like Taobao Marketplace for prices as high as $90 USD. By May 22nd, however, the shortcut purchase was effectively shut down after Taobao issued a bulletin notice about strengthening regulations for online gaming products yet to be approved by the Ministry of Culture, citing Blizzard’s latest release as an example.
In response to the ban on unlicensed copies, Chinese internet users began using the homonym “Big Pineapple” (大菠萝pronounced da boluo) as a codename to evade restrictions of sales, which has been carried out by word-filtering “Dark God of Destruction,” the direct translation in Chinese. Some online vendors reportedly went as far as to include pictures of the tropical fruit in the product pages.