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Diablo 3 launch event celebrates game’s release

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Diablo 3 Launch Event

by Ashley Esqueda (Tecca)

From fan-made costumes to "Diableard" shaving, Blizzard Enertainment throws one heck of a launch party

Last night, hundreds of fans showed up for Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo III launch event in Irvine, California. The hotly anticipated title brought scores of eager gamers looking to pick up their copies at the GameStop in the Irvine Spectrum shopping center. Some cosplayed, wearing costumes depicting their favorite characters from the series. Some brought large groups of friends excited to play Diablo together again. And some simply brought endless enthusiasm and loyalty to a gaming franchise with a lot of history. A few die-hards lined up more than a day ahead of time, with the first person in line queueing up at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, some 40-plus hours before the game's official launch.

History-making gaming, both past and present
So why all the hubbub? If you're not familiar with the Diablo franchise, it had a huge hand in shaping internet gaming as we know it today. In fact, ever since the original Diablo in 1996, Blizzard Entertainment has been known for consistently innovating in the multiplayer online gaming space. All three of its current franchises (StarCraftDiablo, and Warcraft) produce massively successful titles, both critically and financially. The numbers for D3 don't lie, either; Amazon just named Diablo III the most preordered PC game of all time.

Diablo III not only brings forth familiar gameplay and epic quests similar to previous installments, it also changes the way players conduct commerce. In one week, the developers will be adding in a Real-Money Transaction Auction House. With this feature, players will be able to purchase in-game items with real money. This new system is designed to stave off black market sales, item duplication ("duping"), and fraudulent transactions by offering casual players the chance to pick up elite weapons and armor, while more dedicated players get a chance to make some extra cash on the side.

PHOTO GALLERY:  Diablo 3 midnight launch event in pictures

While the idea of this new auction house has sparked both criticism and acclaim, fan enthusiasm remains incredibly strong. Considering Diablo II was released over a decade ago, and fans weren't even sure there would be a third installment, it's clear why gamers were excited enough about it to absolutely overwhelm  a shopping mall when they could just buy and download the game from home.

Challenge of the Diableards
Some have gone the extra mile to prepare well in advance for extended periods of play. When asked about how seriously fans take Diablo, Blizzard's senior technical game designer for Diablo III, Wyatt Chang, had an anecdote about one particular superfan: "He knew he was going to be busy [playing the game], but he wanted to take care of himself, so he pre-cooked himself like 20 meals."

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Diablo 3 t-shirt Cannon

In one of the strangest shows of devotion, a few fans were on hand showing off their "Diableards" after being encouraged by Blizzard in August 2011 to grow their facial hair without shaving until Diablo III's official debut. Today, handfuls of fuzzy-faced fans will be freed of their facial hair bonds, no doubt relieved Diablo III wasn't delayed any further. (The original launch target was holiday 2011.) One Blizzard employee was overheard proclaiming to the crowd, "The second I get home tonight, this beard is coming off!"

Not only did Blizzard's own development team get into the Diableard movement, they were also on hand last night to sign copies of the game and discuss their own excitement about the game's launch. Diablo III Game Director Jay Wilson said of the event, "just walking around and having people tell you how excited they are about the game, that means a lot to us."

Diablo III is officially available for purchase for $60 from retail stores, online retailers, or as a digital download or $99 for the collector's edition. It requires an active internet subscription and can be played on both Mac and PC.

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