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Diablo 3 expected to sell 5 million copies within first year of release

Analyst firm Cowen & Company expects Diablo 3 to sell 5 million units within the first year on sale.

Coming fresh off Blizzard's announcement that Diablo 3 will launch on May 15th, Cowen analyst Doug Creutz suggests that of the estimated 5 million copies sold, 1 million will come from the World of Warcraft Annual Pass which gives a free copy of Diablo 3 to players who subscribe to WoW for a year.

Blizzard announced the release date of the game today as well as opening up presales via the official Diablo 3 website.  To date, the Diablo franchise, including expansion packs, has sold over 20 million units.  For the record, Diablo originally debuted in 1996.

In his latest report (via), Creutz explained that he continues to rate Activision Blizzard's shares as "Outperform" thanks to the company's strong upcoming line-up of games which includes: Diablo 3, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

After a rocky end of year for World of Warcraft, which saw a drop in subscribers, Creutz said that Western subscriptions for the MMO are "finally stabilizing".

Outside of Blizzard, Creutz also noted that the Call of Duty series will continue to dominate, as well as Activision's Skylanders franchise which is only expected to build on its initial success.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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