Just when we thought we’d covered enough Diablo 3 news today, from the first two players valiantly beating the game in hardcore mode on Inferno difficulty, to Blizzard offering refunds to Korean players, another issue has surfaced for the game that just keeps giving. And by giving, I mean giving money to Blizzard while giving problems to players.

Server issues, DRM and hacks aside, Blizzard’s decision to force players to be always connected to their servers means that during weekly server maintenance there is literally no possible way purchasers of Diablo 3 can play their game. This Tuesday, the game was down for a good 10 hours in order for the 1.0.3. patch to be implemented. But with it came another problem for new buyers of the digital version of the game.

The latest Diablo 3 patch (read the full 1.0.3. patch notes here) introduced a new restriction for anyone who purchases a digital copy of the game, where upon activation, they are stuck with the “Starter Edition” of the game for up to 72 hours. What this means that for up to three days after purchasing the game, players are restricted to playing what amounts to limited demo of Diablo 3. They cannot progress past level 13 and they can only play Act 1 up until the Skeleton King boss.

Seeing as how in one solid evening a player can get to level 13 and past Act 1, if you bought the game and played it up to that part, you cannot play further. You have to wait until Blizzard lets you play the game you purchased. Players in their first 72 hours also cannot play with friends who already have the game (they can only play with other Starter Edition players) and cannot access the auction house.

Why? Blizzard’s official response to angry forum commenters:

“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.”

Blizzard Response to Diablo 3 Starter Edition Restriction

This and the DRM are in place for only one reason: for Blizzard to protect their real-money auction house, a system which allows Blizzard to keep a percentage of every in-game transaction for themselves. The only reason somebody’s “malicious activities” would affect “everyone’s play experience” is because Blizzard forces us to be connected to everyone when we play by ourselves or just with friends.

Destructoid’s Jim Sterling said it best; this is but another example of a video game publisher pushing their security issues and problems onto the entire community and taking any control over the gaming experience away from gamers. It’s another anti-consumer act that only hurts one group of people: the players and fans who buy the game legitimately.

The worst part is, Diablo 3 as an experience continues to be harmed because of Blizzard, and it’s a game fans have been waiting on for such a long time, hence it becoming the fastest selling PC game of all-time. But because of that and Blizzard’s business decisions, it’s setting a bad precedent for the industry from a consumer standpoint.

What are your thoughts?

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Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Blizzard

tags: Blizzard, Diablo 3, Mac, PC