MANILA, Philippines — On Tuesday, millions around the world were finally able to get their hands dirty with Blizzard’s new PC gaming title, Diablo III, touted as one of the most hotly anticipated gaming titles in recent memory.
After 12 long years of waiting, eager gamers in the Philippines joined other gamers in the world as the clock struck twelve in the US (3pm in Manila) to take on demons and other monsters in Sanctuary, the gaming world Diablo III is set in.
The game continues the Diablo storyline which started in 1997, with players taking on the role of five heroic classes, most of which are new to the game franchise: the witch doctor, the wizard, the monk, the demon hunter, and the barbarian.
Pierre Albert San Diego, a long-time fan of the Diablo franchise, was one of those who eagerly awaited the opening of the game servers that would allow users to play the online-only game.
“I was thinking of scheduling a fight with my girlfriend this weekend so I can have the time to play Diablo 3,” San Diego jokingly quipped, joining the barrage of Internet jokes and memes about how men in their late teens and early twenties would be devoting all their time in the next several weeks just holing up in their rooms and enjoying the role-playing game.
Already, pre-orders and retail purchases for Diablo III are setting all-time records for Blizzard, with more than 2 million users pre-ordering the game even before its official release.
In the Philippines, Blizzard partner-distributor IP E-Game Ventures Inc. (E-Games) said they have received overwhelming demand from Filipino gamers for the new title.
“In terms of pre-orders, we have received about 5,000 orders already until up to two days ago,” E-Games executive said at the local launch of the game on Tuesday.
Last year, E-Games won the bid to distribute Blizzard titles — including World of Warcraft and the recently released Starcraft II — in the Philippines, after executives participated at the company’s annual Blizzcon in the US.
Fans remain loyal
Judging by the response to the game’s debut on Tuesday, it can be said that although Blizzard waited more than a decade for the next installment of the Diablo franchise, gaming fans remain interested and loyal to the game.
Early comments on Twitter indicated that game servers in some areas have been overwhelmed by the deluge of users logging in to the system, with some experiencing downtime for short periods of time.
The term “Diablo 3″ even became one of the top trending topics on the social networking sites in the Philippines as well as worldwide.
“I have been a fan since the first game way back in 1997,” recalled San Diego, whose uncle and youngest brothers are also rabid fans of the game franchise. ” I remember playing it on my Pentium 166.”
For the most part, the game’s relatively low system requirements has become a major driving force in enticing gamers — old and new alike — to play the game. According to Blizzard, the minimum requirements are: Windows XP/Vista/7, Intel Pentium D 2.8 GHz, 1GB RAM (XP) or 1.5GB (Vista/7) and a broadband Internet connection.
Issues of latency and lag times, assured E-Games executives, wouldn’t be much of a problem with the Asian server of the game.
“In terms of latency, the Asian server is no different from playing with Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), so it’s going to be seamless,” said Allen Amparo, product manager for Blizzard titles at E-Games.
E-Games, however, said prepaid options for buying in-game items and playing time are still being worked out with Blizzard.
The company said Blizzard will play a “substantial” role in the firm’s profitability moving forward, especially as new titles from Blizzard becomes available.