Blizzard have sent a statement to Kotaku following up on yesterday's news that those buying the Diablo 3 digital edition find themselves limited to a starter edition of the game for up to 72 hours. The level cap is described as an "unintended consequence" of security measures added to tackle credit card fraud and "reduce gold spam and other harmful activities that can have a negative impact on the game experience."
An incoming patch is set to lift the levelling limits for new players, but it will leave all other starter edition restrictions in place. That means you won't be able to post in public chat, drop items for other players, visit the auction house or join public games (you can still jump into games with those on your friends list). The Blizzard statement notes that "these are temporary (often lifted within a day and at most 72 hours) associated with digital purchases for the protection of players."
This brings Diablo 3 closer to World of Warcraft's anti gold-spam measures. Blizzard indicate that the move is designed to "ensure the integrity of the game and auction house service." The auction house is an essential asset for players taking on high level challenges at the moment, but the global chat stream that Diablo 3 automatically logs into every time the game starts is entirely useless. So far, it's simply given spammers the opportunity to annoy complete strangers on a large scale.
Perhaps these digital edition restrictions can help clean up chat, but it's still hard to imagine Diablo 3's segmented, instanced sessions encouraging the bustling sense of a wider community that global chat features are designed to encourage. Diablo 3 seems determined to occupy a space somewhere between the private, small scale questing of Diablo 2 and the interconnected, community-driven atmosphere of an MMO. The features needed to generate that massively online vibe have clashed horribly with the expectations of players, but the most damaging aspects of Diablo 3's rocky launch have centred around the simple failure to deliver a game that paying customers can consistently play.
The connection problems at launch have since improved greatly, but Blizzard's troubles continue in Korea, where they've started offering refunds to customers after a spot of bother with the Korean authorities a few weeks ago.