While the release of Overwatch 2 has been a bit muddied thanks to the sequel-that’s-not-really a sequel rollout/F2P transition, there’s little doubt that Diablo 4, an actual sequel, is going to be an absolute monster for a beleaguered Blizzard.
Today, new reports are circulating that Diablo 4 is a lot closer than most anyone might have thought. Windows Central’s Jez Cordon and Xbox Era are both reporting that Diablo 4 is set to launch in April 2023, with preorders beginning in December. It seems likely that Diablo 4 will have a big presence at the December Game Awards, possibly when the exact date is set to be announced, and when preorders may go live.
It is genuinely a little hard to believe that Diablo 4 could be just six months away. We have seen very little footage from the game, relatively speaking, though we have gotten massive, extensive blog posts about its various systems, most recently some information about it being a live service, and how it was not at all going to be selling power like its demented sibling mobile game, Diablo Immortal.
It has been extremely easy to be skeptical of Blizzard, given the turmoil within that company which involved the abuse of workers and a ton of high profile departures, including the original director of Diablo 4 itself. And yet I cannot dispute that absolutely everything I have seen from and heard about Diablo 4 has looked fantastic, and exactly what I have been hoping to see from the game. We do not seem to be marching into something that is a clearly terrible idea like the Auction House, and barring any sort of Error 37 launch technical problems, I have trouble seeing how this is not going to be a massive smash hit at a time when Blizzard badly needs one.
I do have a little trouble believing an April 2023 date will stick. The is Triple A game production. You almost assume whatever the first announced date for a game, no matter how confident the developer seems in it, will almost certainly be delayed at least once. Let’s call this the “Starfield” rule. And in Diablo’s case, it has extra Blizzard drama attached, including the loss of its lead during the course of production. So no, I would not be shocked if Diablo 4 was pushed into summer, or I suppose a month from now when it’s officially announced, maybe these current April plans could even change.
Of course, all of this is taking place within the backdrop of Microsoft looking to acquire Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion. That deal is fighting for approval in a number of countries, and while Call of Duty is the main focus, the idea is that in theory, a Microsoft-owned Blizzard would be putting console and PC versions of Diablo 4 on Game Pass, the way they do with essentially everything they own. Unlike Call of Duty, where past Sony deals may restrict that from coming to Game Pass for a few years, it’s unlikely anything like that applies to Diablo, and that could be a pretty massive win for Microsoft. I am not entertaining the idea that Diablo 4 is going to be an Xbox exclusive, because A) Microsoft wants those alt-platform sales and B) I don’t think this acquisition deal is going to be closed the time this game comes out anyway. But never say never, I suppose.
More to come, though we may not hear anything official until December.