Despite a dozen years since the last release in the series, Diablo III went ahead and blew records out of the water by selling 3.5 million copies on its first day and has reached 6.3 million in a week’s time. While this number doesn’t include the 1.2 million copies given to World of Warcraft (WoW) players who participated in a special promotion, the sales are still only about half of what console monstrosities like Modern Warfare 3 reached after one week.

Various issues plagued the game’s release (most notably servers being down and hacked accounts), and a wave of negative player feelings led to a public whipping of the game on Metacritic, but the game has since received positive reviews from critics- including our own Chris Gravelle, who reviewed the game here. (ed note – his review is pure brilliance and still has more to come C.G.)

The chance to get Diablo III for free by purchasing an annual pass to WoW is one among some of the latest moves by Blizzard to keep interest in the latter up – which includes last year’s transition into making the first 20 levels of the game free for players. While the MMO remains the only giant in that field with 10 million subscribers, estimated trends show that the 500,000 player boost provided by the last expansion- “Cataclysm“- has been lost along with another 1.5 million. While the Mists of Pandaria expansion will surely provide an increase in subscribers, it will be interesting to see if they will reach the 12 million they had during “Cataclysm’s” launch and how they will keep high player retention in a genre that is quickly turning to free-to-play as the next step in its evolution.

via [Businessweek, MMOData]