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.