Digital Diablo III Purchases ‘Restricted’ For Up To 3 Days

By Adam Smith on June 21st, 2012 at 9:00 pm.

Waiting for Diablot

We’ve written and spoken about our concerns and frustrations regarding Diablo III’s relationship with the internet, but Kotaku notice that patch 1.0.3 introduces yet another baffling aspect to what I reckon is an increasingly indefensible strategy. People who purchase the game digitally are now being told that their copy of the game will actually be a starter edition for up to 72 hours. Why? A support agent says “…it is a necessary step to combat fraud and other malicious activities that can weaken everyone’s play experience.” What I’m gathering from all of this is that “everyone’s” play experience seems to be a lot more important than anyone’s play experience.

In case you’re not sure what the starter edition contains, here’s the details:

Act I up to the Skeleton King is available

Level 13 cap

Matchmaking available only with other Starter Edition players

No Auction House access (Real Money or Gold)

Global Play is not available. Players attempting to connect to Diablo III Starter Edition in a region other than their Battle.net Account’s home region will receive Error 12. See the Global Play support article for more information.

It’s the demo. Buying the game directly from Blizzard online gives access to the demo for up to three days before the game itself unlocks. Kotaku speculate that it’s an attempt to reduce server overload but maybe it’s more than that. Perhaps for those first 72 hours behaviour is monitored and vetted to see if any actions are taken that could undermine the integrity of the game or the exchange of money for data. It’s not just a queue but a queue with a security guard walking up and down, frisking the waiting masses.

Nothing would really surprise me. And, yes, it’s only 72 hours but that’s 72 hours more than is reasonable. It’s as if digital versions are now subject to the same delivery time as the good old British postal system.

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316 Comments »

  1. Reiga says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but WoW has been like this for years – if you upgrade from a trial through the Blizzard store, it can take up to 72 hours for the features to fully unlock (such as trading etc.) I still have the e-mails from them stating when the upgrade has been completed etc

  2. Lemming says:

    “What I’m gathering from all of this is that “everyone’s” play experience seems to be a lot more important than anyone’s play experience.”

    Truer words never spoken.

  3. Azradesh says:

    Sigh. It takes no *longer* then 3 days, and this is just to complete payment processing. This is nothing new. Get your facts straight.

    • Stackler says:

      I NEVER had a similar thing happen with ANY company. Blizz are the first to do it this way. Why should a buying customer wait because of other assholes that are scamming or gold selling?

      • piratmonkey says:

        Really? I have. Buying some “Lemon Demon” albums online took a day or so to get the email with links because they were really slow at processing the payment.
        Personal anecdote countered with my personal anecdote! STALEMATE.

    • RobF says:

      @Azradesh

      Phew, it’s a good thing no other company or store completes transactions within seconds of you clicking a button then, eh?

  4. Sian says:

    I got a trial code from a friend. I started playing before the latest patch and things went about as fine as I expected (meaning I noticed the lag and got disconnected twice – once by my IP, once by Blizzard). After the latest patch, health orbs that are supposed to help keep you alive suddenly show up for a few frames, then vanish. They’re still there, I can pick them up, but I can’t see them, which makes them tricky to get.

    Now, a browse through the forums suggests that this is fixed by changing your b-net password. If this doesn’t work, you’re probably on a trial account. Some people who have this problem and own the full game seemingly can’t gain XP anymore and their companions are stuck at level 13. Changing the password fixes everything for them.

    Now, my guess is that the 3-day trial period is what’s making this happen. People with full games that change their password probably prod the servers the right way to make them recognise that, yes, this account has had the game unlocked for more than three days*, thus fixing both bugs. Trial people are out of luck.

    There is no particular point to this post, but I do find this bug curious. Just thought I’d put it out there.

    *Edit: Okay, they prod the servers the right way to make them recognise that, yes, the payment of the game was cleared.

  5. Shooop says:

    I still have zero sympathy for anyone who bought this game. They knew the risks of the DRM unless they never used the internet for anything but their email. They got what they paid for but foolishly hoped wouldn’t be.

    • Torticoli says:

      We paid for always-on DRM and real-money AH, yes. We didn’t pay for demo versions of the game.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Well, pedantically, if you already bought it before this was announced, presumably you don’t get crippled in this way.

        So from this point on, if you buy it, you know what you’re getting yourself into etc. (Except that I doubt Blizzard are exactly making this the clearest, most advertised “feature”.)

  6. wuwul says:

    Obviously, it’s done to deter people from either buying the game with stolen credit cards or doing chargebacks soon after using their newly bought CD keys.

    This was probably done frequently to launder/resell gold/money got from other EULA-violating activities like hacking into accounts and stealing all the gold.

  7. mana says:

    When myself and my friends purchased WoW US accounts (currently overseas) they were “locked” for several days, which meant that we were paying a sub for a demo of a game, with a whole load of restrictions.

    We played D3 together, and had rolled barbs and monks. we slogged it out till act 2 inferno, but seriously, it’s like playing a $60 infinity blade with less variation. It’s so short, it just apes the previous diablo stories/acts, there’s so little content, melee classes are/were fooked, none of us got a single piece of interesting loot (I was wearing a whole load of lvl 30 gear even in inferno as it was better than what we’d found)

    We’ve had more fun playing minecraft’s hack/mine mod, and that was free

  8. pipman3000 says:

    I love seeing Blizzard take such extreme measures to deal with problems they created in the first place. It’s like watching someone tear apart their boat so they can use the pieces to plug up the hole they decided to drill in the bottom*.

    *: They did it to create a better sense of unity between the air breathing land-dweller community and the creatures of the sea**.

    **: And get rich selling virtual plankton to fish

  9. Kez says:

    Haven’t bought or played a Blactivision game since WoW pre-activision. Kotick can suuuuck it.

  10. Stromko says:

    I read every Diablo 3 article, and I think it’s time to admit that it’s pure schadenfreude. It’s gazing longingly at a horrible car wreck. I don’t think I need any analogies, you get the picture.

    Personally I played the beta long enough to reach the end with all the classes (took me maybe 6 hours), and I realized that while a lot of work from some very talented people went into Diablo 3, as a total package it was a disaster. The capricious lag was enough to convince me not to buy it, but now that D3 is out I learn every day how much worse it gets.

    • Wisq says:

      Or watching one of those “I’m a fancy executive with a fancy car and I will drive like a maniac” drivers get into a wreck. Feels like karma finally catching up with them.

      (The “fancy executive” being ActiBlizzard. Or maybe Kotick. But not the players. The players are like the occupants of the other car.)

      (And yes, I would pay good money to see Kotick involved in a horrible car wreck of his own creation, so long as other people weren’t harmed.)

  11. tlarn says:

    It’s funny how just about everything like this could’ve been avoided by making the Auctionhouse use in-game currency only and not include using real currency to purchase digital items and not allow you to profit from it.

    Activision-Blizzard (let’s be honest, it’s not the same Blizzard anymore) could’ve easily just gone with the classic “You can buy these sets of items that have an atomically minute or even nonexistant drop rate for X dollars/pounds/what-have-you” microtransaction model and still have the offline singleplayer, you just don’t get the ability to use the transaction model with offline characters. They could’ve had seasonal items in this classic model, and even promotional and cross-promotional items in this classic model. Hell, they could’ve even sweetened their BlizzCon lootbags with exclusive D3 items the same way there’s exclusive pets for World of Warcraft.

    This Real-Money Auctionhouse looked like a bad idea to begin with, and this decision just makes it so transparent that the focus of the game is the Real-Money Auctionhouse, as far as Activision-Blizzard is concerned.

  12. Wisq says:

    So um, why give people the demo version? Why not just give them the full version, minus RMAH?

    It’s not like you can’t take the whole account away any time you want. And if you only limited their RMAH access, you could do it for longer (e.g. a week) and be even more effective at stopping fraudsters.

  13. Longrat says:

    I want trjp to leave

    • Wisq says:

      I highly recommend using the block button. It’s great for stress reduction in the comments threads.

      It also provides you with little bits of joy every time you can’t remember why you blocked someone, unblock them to see their latest comment, then laugh and block them again and compliment your past self’s ability to judge character.

      • Milky1985 says:

        How do you unblock people :P

        For that matter how the hell do you change your avater, i found the admin site so i coudl changeit once by accident and havn’t found it again since :P

  14. Torticoli says:

    Ok, that’s… possibly the worst thing Blizzard has ever done. And anyone who has played World of Warcraft for the last 3 years or so, knows that they’ve done a lot of stupid/terrible things.

    I don’t even… waw. I don’t even have the words. I regret purchasing this game. I’d almost feel ashamed for giving them my money.

  15. Duskstalker says:

    “However, as an unintended consequence of these security measures, players who purchase the game digitally after patch 1.0.3 are temporarily being capped at level 13 and not able to proceed beyond Act I. We are working to correct this as soon as possible and will provide another update when we have more details to share.” – Kotaku

    That is clearly part of the Kotaku story, that you have apparently gotten this information from and yet missed a rather important point, the limit to leveling is an accident that will be sorted.

    I know everyone here seems to hate blizzard with a vengeance but in this particular case it isn’t as bad as it seems.

    • Flamekin42 says:

      If not realizing that limiting people to starter edition will leave them capped at lvl13, I do have to wonder what kind of security against fraud did these “professioanals” have in the first place.

      Don’t be that naive though, such actions look like panicky attempts to stop (probably) massive number of online frauds at all costs, and much less of an innocent oopsie.

  16. Ralphomon says:

    I’m kinda wishing I never bought this now – I very rarely play it, and I wish I hadn’t given money to Blizzard: it seems I’m enabling this kind of behaviour.

    Although this is probably hypocritical of my, because I’m most probably going to buy Heart of the Swarm when it comes out.

  17. nanowired says:

    Let this be a lesson to you:
    Pay attention to the men and women who bring us great games, not the name of the publisher.
    The people who made Blizzard great left Long ago, after the release of World of Warcraft.

    If you pay brand names more admiration than the craftsmen themselves, than you end up with giants like EA and Acti-blizzard, who run on nothing but “Wow! Another bioware/blizzard game! I just HAVE to buy it!”

    Yes, Bioware probably has some of their original people, but being part of the machine means they don’t work on what they want to.

  18. Frye2k11 says:

    NANANANANANAAAA! suckers.

    Really! You screwed yourself more than you screwed the gaming community, but still, what were you thinking when buying this game? Hoping for the best? You could see problems like these coming for a mile. Well, some of us could.

    I wish I could say I enjoy this fiasco but you have been paying good money to those crooks. They will never learn unless you show some balls and REFUSE TO GET SCREWED!

    Yes you can! I did. And all I had to do is not buy any Ubi product since Vegas 2, and any Blizzard product since wow. Tbh, I only miss never playing SC2, well I have some intergrity instead. Less fun, but it really pays out on days like these…

    /climbs back down

  19. Milky1985 says:

    RPS Hive Mind, Adam , John etc

    Can you get your lawyers/a lawyer to look at the legal issues reguarding this decision with reguards to trading standards and the distance selling act.

    Will be interesting to have an article on this to see the legality of it, so if it is legal, why us consumers need to stand up a bit to companies, and if its not legal, how much trouble they are in.

    But seriously why does it “suddenly” take 3 days to do this, utter utter rubbish.I’ve gotten into starcraft 2 in a big way over the past 6 months but am getting incresingly tempted to ignore heart of the swarm when it comes out :(

  20. Iskariot says:

    I am so glad I decided from the start not to get into this game.
    It was with pain in my heart, because I am a big Diablo fan, but everything I hear confirms again and again that it was the best decision I could make.

  21. oldsam says:

    So not only do you have to pay more for a digital download than a real copy (as far as I’ve seen the prices of real copies anyway), but the digital download doesn’t even let you enjoy the game to its full extent.

    I bought my copy new from Blizzard on launch. Initially I was beset by the common connection errors which I could kind of cope with in a this-is-unacceptable, internet forum rage kind of way.

    With subsequent patches the game has variously corrupted its own data and completely locked me out on occasion, seemingly on a whim. This was also annoying.

    Now they’re also ruining the game further in the early sections, for new players.

    I really like the game but almost, almost not that much.

  22. Legionary says:

    What I’m gathering from all of this is that “everyone’s” play experience seems to be a lot more important than anyone’s play experience.

    This is a very pithy explanation of every problem caused by Blizzard’s strategy with Diablo III.