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Is Blizzard Launching a Starter Edition of Diablo 3?

By - Source: Ars Technica | B 22 comments

A Starter Edition of Diablo 3 was accidentally unleashed Wednesday morning, signaling the release of an "unlimited demo" in the near future.

Early Wednesday morning, the closed beta of Diablo 3 -- which finally comes to a halt on May 1 -- suddenly opened its doors to anyone with a Battle.net account. Gamers were actually able to download the client and play until Blizzard caught on to the glitch and shut everything down, including access to the closed beta. As of this writing, the beta is still unavailable until further notice.

Additional reports on Wednesday claimed that around 6am EDT, gamers gained access to what they called a "Starter Edition" which included all the features of the closed beta, but didn't require a beta key. Currently beta testers have access to all five characters and the first Act which concludes by defeating the Skeleton King. The ending is epic in relation to the short journey, but there's talk that Act I doesn't actually conclude at that point.

That said, closed beta testers have likely been playing a Starter Edition -- or rather a really meaty demo -- all along. Gamers who gained access Wednesday morning said that they were given an option to buy the complete game, mimicking the Starter Edition Blizzard provides for World of Warcraft. The MMORPG's "unlimited demo" allows gamers to level up a character to 20 while also allowing them to play in a limited area indefinitely. Eventually they'll grow tired of the same thing every day and subscribe to the game, or go find another free-to-play MMORPG for their leeching pleasure (guilty).

Blizzard also currently offers a Starter Edition of StarCraft 2. Replacing the previously released demo, it provides the first four missions, the first two challenges, and four multiplayer maps that are playable with owners of the full version. Like the Starter Edition of WoW, it's completely free to play for as long as the gamer wants.

That in mind, it's presumed that the Diablo 3 Starter Edition will allow gamers to play through the campaign with all five characters up until the encounter with the Skeleton King, and then nag them to purchase the full game. Even more, the Starter Edition will probably only allow characters to reach a certain level, and block some of the social features the full game will provide.

"The Diablo 3 beta is currently unavailable until further notice while we continue to work to resolve an issue affecting the beta accessibility," Blizzard said Wednesday afternoon. "We will provide an update at approximately 3pm PDT (6pm EDT). Thank you for your patience."

We covered the closed beta back in October when it was just hatched -- long before the Diablo 3 team made changes to the core systems -- reporting our experience playing each of the five classes, and hacking through the first Act in both single-player and multiplayer scenarios. Looking back, the beta felt like a demo, offering a beginning and an ending without any sort of cliffhanger. If the beta is in fact a Starter Edition, then gamers will have a serious gem on their hands... and for free.

For more hands-on information, here's all five parts of our beta coverage:

Diablo 3 Closed Beta Part 1
Diablo 3 Closed Beta Part 2
Diablo 3 Closed Beta Part 3
Diablo 3 Closed Beta Part 4
Diablo 3 Closed Beta Part 5

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  • 11 Hide
    arlandi , April 19, 2012 7:52 AM
    why not? this try before you buy method is nice. i played the WoW Starter Edition, and found out that it's not for me, and then not purchasing it. this way, i can try el-Diablo 3 and if i don't like it, i just uninstall it.
    this is just another evolution of Shareware from the last century.
    i don't think this will be available through Steam, right?
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    christarp , April 19, 2012 7:40 AM
    I thought this was obvious to anyone following d3 in the slightest.
  • 11 Hide
    arlandi , April 19, 2012 7:52 AM
    why not? this try before you buy method is nice. i played the WoW Starter Edition, and found out that it's not for me, and then not purchasing it. this way, i can try el-Diablo 3 and if i don't like it, i just uninstall it.
    this is just another evolution of Shareware from the last century.
    i don't think this will be available through Steam, right?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 9:36 AM
    Anyone else feel like this article jumped back and forth between two pieces of news? also why couldn't toms tell us this earlier!. oh well they probably disabled it before it would of finished downloading anyway
    :( 
  • 0 Hide
    papaspud , April 19, 2012 10:52 AM
    @ arlandi

    I'm sure this is only through blizzard and battlenet. That is the way it worked for the beta.
  • 1 Hide
    andover , April 19, 2012 11:23 AM
    papaspud@ arlandi I'm sure this is only through blizzard and battlenet. That is the way it worked for the beta.


    and all their other games
  • 0 Hide
    Kreth , April 19, 2012 11:45 AM
    im guessing soon there will be a battle.net platform, where you can access all of blizzard games from
  • 2 Hide
    blizow , April 19, 2012 12:30 PM
    Krethim guessing soon there will be a battle.net platform, where you can access all of blizzard games from


    Not sure what exactly you mean, but a battle.net account has all Blizzard purchased games linked to it so you can download any of them without the need for any discs. I'm pretty sure when you register a game to your battle.net account it will also store the cd-key as well, but it's been awhile so I'm not exactly sure on that one.
  • 0 Hide
    nbelote , April 19, 2012 12:47 PM
    Yeah, you can only get Blizzard games through Blizzard or off of a retail store shelf. Since they handle all of their games, including WoW, through Battle.net servers they just figured it made sense to manage ownership of their games through the same service. I mean, since your key's registered on that server with that account anyway, shouldn't you just download it there too?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 12:49 PM
    This seems like a pointless article to me, whether you label it beta or demo its essentially the same thing i.e. a restricted portion of the game, in most cases the opening of the game.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 12:55 PM
    I'm only following D3 in the slightest and didn't know this, since I don't really have high expectations for the game. I'm glad they seem to be planning something like this and it may convince me to buy in the near future if it can hold my attention. I was a D2 nut, and played Wow for several years and was in beta, but Bliz has been getting worse over the years and I lost faith in them a couple years back. Hopefully D3 can bring back some of that. SC2 was overhyped IMHO. A good game, but not worth the fanatical attention it has received.
  • 0 Hide
    elbert , April 19, 2012 1:59 PM
    Quote:
    Eventually they'll grow tired of the same thing every day and subscribe to the game, or go find another free-to-play MMORPG for their leeching pleasure (guilty).

    Everything I have read says no subscription. Did you mean pay for the retail game? From what I hear only the auction house will be an source of money other than the retail sales for blizzard.
  • 0 Hide
    anamech , April 19, 2012 2:34 PM
    I am not sure why everyone is so against the "No LAN support" thing!!!! Whenever we do a LAN, WE make sure that we have internet!!! Thats how I think it's supposed to be!

    Now...I am not to keen on the online single player thing, but serioulsy if you cannot find a way to get connected then you are not supposed to play D3!!!

    Ranting done!!
    :) 
  • 3 Hide
    trapper , April 19, 2012 2:50 PM
    anamechI am not sure why everyone is so against the "No LAN support" thing!!!! Whenever we do a LAN, WE make sure that we have internet!!! Thats how I think it's supposed to be! Now...I am not to keen on the online single player thing, but serioulsy if you cannot find a way to get connected then you are not supposed to play D3!!!Ranting done!!


    While I agree to an extent, I can't agree completely, but I understand and agree with why blizzard is doing it this way. But for those times when your ISP drops (mine did for a weekend a month back), or if you're traveling with a laptop: stuck on a train or plane, you won't be able to play.

    The big thing is that while Blizzard does it people are upset. But when EA does something similar people get into an uproar and start rants about the evil EA (which I'm not arguing).
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 2:58 PM
    I am so glad I was able to finally get a Diablo 3 beta key! I wish I could play it longer though as May 1st is approaching quickly. But if anyone else is still in the hunt for a beta key you can try this website (this is where I got my key) http://www.deviousdog.com/diablo3betakeygiveaway/
  • 2 Hide
    netwired , April 19, 2012 3:30 PM
    @anamech - If you think that LAN parties is "suppose" to have internet you are mistaken. The whole reason for lan parties is to link up on a closed network to reduce network traffic and lag.

  • 0 Hide
    hythos , April 19, 2012 3:45 PM
    Krethim guessing soon there will be a battle.net platform, where you can access all of blizzard games from

    You're guess, is actually called Titan.
  • 0 Hide
    hythos , April 19, 2012 3:51 PM
    hythosYOUR guess, is actually called Titan.

    ROFL Damn iPhone auto-correct!
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , April 19, 2012 4:01 PM
    This would be smart of them. Restrict it like the current beta, which is just the first half or third of the first level. It lets people know how good it is, and lets them determine if they like it enough to pay for it.

    I absolutely love it. Plus, I've played it with three different characters, on two different machines, with absolutely no problems. This game is about as bug free as I've ever seen. The graphics are great, too, IMHO. It keeps with the old Diablo play style, improves on certain aspects of the game, expands the content and lore, and improves the graphics. They really did an excellent job on it.
  • 0 Hide
    djscribbles , April 19, 2012 4:02 PM
    anamechI am not sure why everyone is so against the "No LAN support" thing!!!! Whenever we do a LAN, WE make sure that we have internet!!! Thats how I think it's supposed to be! Now...I am not to keen on the online single player thing, but serioulsy if you cannot find a way to get connected then you are not supposed to play D3!!!Ranting done!!


    I used to LAN very regularly with friends in my hometown (till we all graduated college and moved away). We didn't have internet access beyond a 15k modem connection (due to living in a rural area). Five years ago, I would have boycotted this game for this reason. I completely understand why people are upset, while it doesn't impact me, or how I play the game; some people may play games on the road, in a hotel with crappy wifi, in the middle of nowhere, or in some 3rd world country; people who are fans of the series, but can't play because they don't have reliable internet with which to do so.

    It's easy to make arguments in either direction. Keeping server code private is definately a good idea if you want to prevent hacking and exploitation, and it encourages people to open up to multiplayer (who may have finished the SP game, only to find out multiplayer is a seperate system and they have to start over).

    In the end it's their decision, there are tradeoffs in either direction, and you can't have the cake and eat it too.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 5:36 PM
    Seems like a good idea. My first experience with Diablo 1 was through a shareware version, I just wish they would have warned me about the butcher!
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