“The game's done, just release it already! Gentlemen: prepare the Onager!” That's my impression of the angry mob outside Blizzard's studios, waiting for news of a Diablo 3 release. They want it, but like a monkey gripping a tree in a hurricane, Blizzard are holding tightly onto the beta. They still have a lot to change. A lot. According to game director Jay Wilson's 'System Changes' post on the Diablo 3 site: “We trust in our ability to put out a great game, but we're not quite there yet.”
So what's holding them back from greatness? “Crafting, items, core attributes, and inventory”. Blizzard are keen to streamline the game as much as they can, slicing out major elements with a whiff of redundancy. Take the tale of the now cut Mystic artisan: “As we look at the big picture, the Mystic simply wasn’t adding anything to our customization system. Enhancement was really just the socket and gem system with a different name, and it would prolong the release of the game even further to go back to the drawing board and differentiate it, so we’ll revisit the Mystic and enhancements at a later time. Removing her from the game took some time, but it’s nowhere near the efforts that would be required to flesh out a better customization system.”
Crikey! They're not playing around. Despite not taking much interest in Blizzard games, I do love that they take betas super-seriously. Their games have such a ridiculous level of polish because they're prepared to iterate over a long period of time, and take difficult decisions. It was rumoured that Diablo 3 was close to release, but with all the changes listed, all of which require more Blizzard's extensive testing, I can't see that happening.