Digital purchases of Diablo 3 through Battle.net or Blizzard's online store now restrict players to the game's limited Starter Edition for the first 72 hours after purchase, Blizzard announced today.
The new policy, implemented in the recently launched Patch 1.0.3, puts buyers of the game's standard edition on a three-day (or "sometimes less") waiting list. During that time, they can only play the free Starter Edition, which only includes the game's first act, implements a level 13 cap for characters and followers, only allows players to group with other Starter Edition players, and doesn't give access to the Auction House.
On the Battle.net forums, a Blizzard support agent explained, "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 agent added the delay is "often much quicker" than the 72-hour window.
We've reached out to Blizzard to find out if this new policy is related to a bug corrected earlier this week, which capped all players at level 13 regardless of which edition they were playing, and to learn more about the factors that drove Blizzard to this decision.
Update: A Blizzard representative responded with clarification and explanation of this new policy, which is enacted "to help ensure the integrity of the game and auction house service."
The delay is to ensure payment verification, a preventative measure that is also in place for World of Warcraft to prevent the easy creation of multiple accounts for hackers and gold spammers. "While most payments are approved and restrictions are lifted within a day, in some cases it can take up to 72 hours to complete this process," the representative added.
The features that are meant to be disabled for players waiting on verification are all social in nature — no public game access, auction house access, item trading or Global Play access. However, a continuing bug has enforced the level 13 cap and Act 1 roadblock of the Starter Edition — an unintended side-effect.
"We are working to correct this as soon as possible and will provide another update when we have more details to share," the representative added.