Activision Blizzard Inc. just announced a May 15 release date for its highly anticipated Diablo 3, which is available for pre-sale Thursday. The third installment of the action adventure role playing game, traditionally restricted to PC gamers, is the first of the series to make its way to consoles.

Fans will be able to play online as soon as servers go live if they pre-purchase the game on its online gaming service, Jay Wilson, lead developer of Diablo III, has been teasing fans about details concerning the launch for quite some time now.

Playing the game is an essential part of making it. Great games are played as much as they are made. :) he posted on Twitter Wednesday.

The third chapter in the franchise was initially announced four years ago, leaving fans dangling for details about a release date.

After many years of hard work by our development team and months of beta testing by hundreds of thousands of dedicated players around the world, we're now in the homestretch, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said in the press release.

Activision Blizzard said in their fourth quarter earnings call that it was targeting a second quarter 2012 release. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick confirmed to the Guardian that the game would ship between March and June. And now, exactly two months before the pre-sale date, fans are beginning to gear up for their epic quests.

I don't even have a computer that can play Diablo 3 but.......OMG I'M SO EXCITED FOR IT I COULD DIE! an enthusiastic fan posted on Twitter.

I'm seriously excited for Diablo 3. The only game I'm waiting for. Diablo 2 was hands down a masterpiece, wrote another.

Activision Blizzard's other major fantasy franchise, World of Warcraft, has been shedding subscribers, losing 100,000 players in the fourth quarter. The decline amounted to less than a 700,000 loss in the third quarter of 2011.

But the video game giant remains a profit engine, reporting fourth quarter net income of $99 million, up from $233 million in the previous year. Earnings per share rose to 62 cents, up from 53 cents, above a Bloomberg consensus.

Blizzard is also offering a deal for players, in an attempt to reignite World of Warcraft excitement among RPG fans. Until 12:01 on May 1st, the company is giving away Diablo 3 for free if gamers sign up for a World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

Shares of Activision Blizzard increased by one cent to $12.34 in Thursday morning trading.