The never-ending soap opera that is Diablo's online strategy continues. First there were connectivity issues, then claims of hacking, and, yesterday, new buyers began getting slapped with up-to-72-hour restrictions to Diablo III's Starter Edition - aka, its demo. Next up, we'll probably find out that Torchlight's been Diablo's son all along, but both of them got amnesia and the paternity test exploded. It turns out, however, that the credits haven't quite rolled on this week's episode. Apparently, new players actually aren't supposed to be thrown into demonic demo dungeons. They are, however, still subject to roughly a gazillion other baffling restrictions.
Blizzard clarified the situation to Kotaku, explaining that the Starter Edition downgrade is "an unintended consequence of these security measures" and specifically noting that the level cap of 13 and progression halt at Act I were never meant to plague new buyers in the first place. "We are working to correct this as soon as possible and will provide another update when we have more details to share," said the beleaguered behemoth in a statement.
However, Blizzard's suite of fraud-fighting security measures is still very much in place. So, for up to 72 hours, customers can look forward to not looking forward to the following:
- No public game access for unverified digital purchasers
- No auction house access (real-money or gold) for unverified digital purchasers
- Unverified digital purchasers cannot trade items or drop items for other players to receive
- Unverified digital purchasers are not able to chat in any public or game channels
- Unverified digital purchasers cannot attach a custom message to friend requests, but they can send/accept friend requests, and play with their friends
- Global Play is not available for unverified digital purchasers
So then, you're still being fairly massively (and paradoxically) inconvenienced by the "service" part of "games as a service," but at least you can cobble together a functional single-player experience out of all that. Well, you know, aside from connection issues, lag, and downtime, anyway.
It's honestly sort of incredible how out-of-hand this has gotten. There is, admittedly, a lot on the line between all the personal info and bank accounts that have been stirred into the mix, but when Blizzard announced all of this, it vehemently claimed the ups would outweigh the downs. Convenience, in other words, would make doubters eat their bile-coated words about lack of true single-player or mods. And yet, new barriers to entry keep popping up. I don't doubt that games can be services, but this is a pretty awful way to do it.
Fingers crossed that Blizzard's finally run out of whiplash-inducing plot twists, but I wouldn't be surprised to find us all tuning in for another episode of Diablos Of Our Lives in a week or two.