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Diablo III coming in May

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Diablo III (Blizzard)

After literally years of teasing fans with a release date, Diablo III is finally about to hit store shelves.

Blizzard Entertainment announced Thursday that the hotly anticipated hack-and-slash RPG will launch on May 15. Players who don't want to waste a second jumping back into Tristram can pre-order a digital copy of the game from now.

"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," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We look forward to putting the final polish on Diablo III over the next two months."

To say Diablo III has been a long time coming is like saying the Grand Canyon is a large hole. Development on the title technically started in 2001, but the company was never happy with its direction. The game went through three quiet revisions, but it wasn't until June of 2008 that Blizzard officially confirmed Diablo III was in development.

That was just the start, however. Players had to wait another three years before the public beta opened up. All the while, Blizzard and Activision have shied away from putting a firm release date on the game and kept pushing it back. Diablo III was expected to ship in the third quarter of last year, but then got pushed to the beginning of 2012, followed by a delay to mid-year.

While many gamers expected the delays were tied to a rumored console version of the game, Activision-Blizzard has yet to formally announce one.

And while fans are no doubt doing backflips and planning for mid-May sick days now, the version of Diablo III they get won't be quite as complete as some had originally hoped. Blizzard made the strategic decision earlier this month to not include the game's PvP Arena mode, since it wasn't meeting the company's high standards. That mode, instead, will be delivered via a patch at some uncertain point in the future.

"After a lot of consideration and discussion, we ultimately felt that delaying the whole game purely for PvP would just be punishing to everyone who's waiting to enjoy the campaign and core solo/co-op content, all of which is just about complete," said director Jay Wilson.

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