Is Blizzard Launching a Starter Edition of Diablo 3?

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

  • christarp
    I thought this was obvious to anyone following d3 in the slightest.
  • arlandi
    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?
  • 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
  • papaspud
    @ arlandi

    I'm sure this is only through blizzard and battlenet. That is the way it worked for the beta.
  • andover
    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
  • Kreth
    im guessing soon there will be a platform, where you can access all of blizzard games from
  • blizow
    Krethim guessing soon there will be a platform, where you can access all of blizzard games from
    Not sure what exactly you mean, but a 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 account it will also store the cd-key as well, but it's been awhile so I'm not exactly sure on that one.
  • nbelote
    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 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.