Icy Blizzard Teaser Image Heats Up Diablo 3 Announcement Rumors (Updated)

BOOM widget 118210 Update: The Blizzard.com splash image has been changed, with few new developments. The number/letter theory has been ruled out, as the new puzzle piece is numbered 23, which does not correspond to a letter in the word "Diablo." I've uploaded my own stab at the up-to-date puzzle, which you can view on the left.

Original story: Anticipation for a big announcement this weekend at Blizzard's World Wide Invitational event has reached a fever pitch after the company posted a slowly-revealing teaser image on its website.

While the icy image at first seems to be an obvious match for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King--a game set on a frozen continent--several images hidden in the page's source code have been found by internet detectives. In the hopes that Blizzard is pulling a fast one, some Diablo devout have pieced together a theory that the hellish action-RPG series will in fact be the franchise to steal this weekend's show.

Pieces of an apparent six-piece puzzle, the purple-dominant pictures are being released one at a time with each change of the splash image. Here's where things get crazy.

The images released thus far--named tundra 04.jpg and cavern 15.jpg--seem to fit opposing corners of the puzzle. Using logic that could only be derived from years of following the Nancy Drew saga, the detectives have speculated that the numbers in the file names correspond to letters of the alphabet.

Since the tundra image is first at 4, and the cavern image is last at 15, the six-letter word would appear to be D _ _ _ _ O. It doesn't take a master jewel socketer to see where this is going.

Like dogs lapping at an empty plate, Blizzard fans hungry for another entry in the Diablo series have rushed to provide supporting evidence, from matching runic symbols to a long-time Blizzard artist's apparent fetish for purple walruses. Also added to the argument is the fact that Blizzard has never used a teaser reveal for a release date, supposedly ruling out a Lich King-related announcement. Much of the guess-work has been documented on fan site diabloii.net in an article titled "The DAWWInci Code."

While the theories seem far-fetched at best--especially considering the image's strong relation to Lich King's Jormungar beast--the number-letter hypothesis will certainly gain more credence if the third image, said to be released at midnight PST tonight, fits the mold.

Either way, leave it to gamers to find a game in a website splash image.