Thanks to business magazine MCV we have an account of a few oddities that happened during the release of Diablo II:
"Havas is taking measures against violations of the Diablo 2 street date. [...] Even though Havas threatened to fine retailers with a fine of 50.000 DM (Deutsche Mark) on violation of the release date, some sold it to customers as early as June 27, instead of the official street date of June 29th". It further states that German retailers have started a price battle about Diablo 2, with some lowering the price so much that they almost had no profit margin left, much to the bafflement of Havas:
- 66 DM at some Media Markt and Saturn stores
- 74.99 DM at the Saturn in Solingen
- 69.99 DM at Media Markt in Ludwigshafen
- 69 DM at Media Markt in Karlsruhe
ProMarkt and MakroMarkt by the Wegert-Group didn't compete. They got official orders from the Berlin HQ to not go below the price of 89 DM.
Additionally, a noticeable amount of games had to be returned because game discs or other components were missing from the box.
Havas said they had clearly communicated the price of 89.95 DM to their retail partners.
Luckily, we have an original flyer from Groß Electronic, the exclusive distributor of Diablo II in Germany, that tells us that a single copy of the game costed retailers 69.90 DM (presumably less if they take many copies), which means that some stores were risking a deficit. Interestingly, the catalog of Dynatex (another distributor) listed Diablo II at 72.14 DM when they were still aiming for a 03.12.1999 shipping date.
Similarly, when Lord of Destruction was released, there were reports of stores selling the game before its official release date.