Anybody purchasing the digital edition of Diablo 3 will instead receive the limited demo version of the game. After no longer than three days, says Blizzard, this demo version will auto-blossom into the full, unrestricted and beautiful version of the game you paid for. The limited Starter Edition of Diablo 3 prevents players from progressing past the Skeleton King boss (a mere handful of hours into the game at best), caps them at level 13 and - this is probably the crucial part - blocks access to the real money auction house. Clearly this is part of Blizzard's big play to combat fraud: turning the limited Starter Edition of the game into a sort of waiting room/suspect processing area for all new players.
An official note on the forum clarified Blizzard's position further, listing in full the limitations now imposed on new players who've bought digitally.
"As of patch 1.0.3, when purchasing a digital version of Diablo III through the online store or your Battle.net Account, players are restricted to the Starter Edition for the first 72 hours (sometimes less). Players on Starter Editions have the following restrictions:
- 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."
Confusion is rife on the Battle.net forums, compounded even further by a patch 1.0.3 glitch that caused players over level 13 to stop earning XP entirely. Seemingly related to this change, that problem was easily resolved with a password change. For everybody else though, the solution involves precisely the sort of patience lacked by people who download their games online.
"Digital purchases require a review period before they kick over from Starter to Full editions," explained a Blizzard support agent. "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."
Retail versions are fine, by the way. You meatspace guys check out.