Blizzard announced today that all digital purchases of Diablo III will be restricted to Starter Editions for seventy-two hours.
Diablo III‘s Starter Edition is a demo-esque version of the game, where players cannot proceed past the Skeleton King encounter in Act I and are limited to a Level 13 cap. Other restrictions include no Auction House access, no Global Play, and matchmaking will only put players with Starter Edition copies together.
Blizzard states that restricting new customers with the Starter Edition gives the company time to confirm that the purchase is by a legitimate user who is not trying to use the service for fraudulent purposes.
A Blizzard employee assured players that this restriction was both necessary and reasonable.
Outside of the issue that we fixed, digital purchases do require a review period before they kick over from Starter to Full editions. We apologize for the inconvenience, but it is a necessary step to combat fraud and other malicious activities that can weaken everyone’s play experience.
The delay is no longer than three days, and is often much quicker than that. Hang tight.
Analysis: Blizzard is a huge company. How huge? In 2010 alone, the company recorded a net revenue of $4,447 million and an operating cash flow of $1.4 billion. In other words, they have an inordinate amount of money and then some. So it seems shocking that, despite the ridiculous amount of both financial and human capital available to Blizzard, the best system that they can come up with to combat fraud is simply locking every new customer’s account with a demo version of the game until someone can manually assess the purchasing account.
While I understand that Diablo III, which offers real-money auctions in-game is especially susceptible to gold spammers and other unsavory types, it seems very ridiculous to me that Blizzard can’t think of a better system to deal with this problem. This is especially so when you consider that only digital purchases are being affected by this new change.
What exactly is wrong with this system, though? I’ll let actual customers tell you that.
A user named Soupism says this:
If I have to wait 3 days, hell, longer than 5 minutes, I’d rather my money back and I’ll go to the store myself. I bought online simply for the instant gratification.
If I have to wait, I’d rather spend the minutes driving, owning physical property, and using a CD key to bypass any “trial review period”.
It’s unfair that this individual, who bought the game digitally for the ease of access it provided him, is restricted to a demo for three days without any prior warning that this was to occur.
Another user named Omertus was even angrier about this change.
I paid 59.99 so I can wait for 3 days killing the same bastard over and over again? If I recall my money was taken out about a minute after I purchased it. What is there to review? absolutely nothing. This is fraud, I paid for a service in full and only received half of what I paid for; not even 1/10th. When I called customer services for a refund when I found this out they denied me claiming that I have already downloaded the game and will not be issuing a refund. That folks is fraud. I should have just bought the hard copy.
While he makes a good point, it’s important to note that Omertus is legally incorrect about it being fraud since Blizzard’s TOS states that he had to accept in order to register, which indemnifies Blizzard from such grievances. In fact, much like other digital distribution services, Blizzard’s TOS contains the following statement:
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR ANY DISPUTE WITH BLIZZARD IS TO STOP USING THE SERVICE, AND TO CANCEL ALL ACCOUNTS REGISTERED TO YOU.
It’s easy to see where he’s coming from, though. Paying for a service and then not getting access to that service, even if it’s only for a temporary period, is always disorienting and frustrating for a customer.
The patch also seems to have launched with some issues, as RangerGeet asserts.
I just called Blizzard customer support, and they had even updated their automated response saying that they are aware of this issue and it can be fixed by changing the password, which as we all know does not work for what is occurring with us. And their call queue is full. This is patronizing, insulting, and downright infuriating that they will not respond to us. I’ve never had an issue with Blizz with all my years of WoW, but this is ridiculous. Here is my ticket if anyone is interested or cares:
Account REVERTED to guest status after patch
I upgraded my account yesterday from Guest Account and purchased the full game. I played past the starter content and everything was working as it should. I played passed the Skeleton King and gained XP, etc.
Today after the patch my character beyond the starter content stopped gaining XP at level 13, as though it was a guest account character (even though it is beyond the Skel King) and all my other characters cannot progress beyond the skeleton king. I receive the same message I did asking to upgrade. Yesterday, my characters did NOT receive this prompt.
Changing password does not fix this issue. It appears to be an issue of its own based on what is going on in the forums.
Blizzard has avoided making too many comments on the situation, but I’m curious to see if their position on this issue will evolve or not. As of right now, their new system of locking out new purchasers with a demo copy of the game until they can be manually verified as a legitimate user is a shoddy, amateurish business practice that I’d expect from a startup, not from a company that reports having an operating cash flow of $1.4 billion.