We posted news a few days ago about new buyers of the digital version of Diablo III being assigned to the trial version and stuck at level 13 for up to three days, while Blizzard verified that their payment was legit. Reader comments on that post were fairly scathing, as Blizzard didn’t make any effort to explain the financial or technical reasons behind their decision.
They did release a longer statement that does make some effort at that, via kotaku just to clarify the issue.
Similar to World of Warcraft, these restrictions were put in place to deter credit card fraud, which in turn helps reduce gold spam and other harmful activities that can have a negative impact on the game experience for everyone.
However, as an unintended consequence of these security measures, players who purchase the game digitally after patch 1.0.3 are temporarily being capped at level 13 and not able to proceed beyond Act I. We are working to correct this as soon as possible and will provide another update when we have more details to share.
Aside from the two unintended restrictions noted above, below are the standard security-related restrictions that will be in place for digital purchases until payment verification is complete:
Again, we want to be perfectly clear that these are temporary restrictions (often lifted within a day and at most 72 hours) associated with digital purchases for the protection of players. We appreciate player feedback and will continue to evaluate the best methods for ensuring a positive game experience for everyone.
These rules are in place to keep griefers and scammers from using free trial copies to ruin the economy or game experience for the rest of us. Everyone accepts those, but the fan anger comes in when legitimate buyers are locked into a trial version for a day or two (or three).
The problem, of course, is that in some circumstances Blizzard needs a day or two (or three) to be sure that you are, in fact, a legitimate buyer. As anyone who has researched ebay payment systems knows, there are a lot of scams and ways to (temporarily) appear to have money that you do not. Fraudulent wire transfers and paypal bouncing checks and other such scams abound, and there are no doubt numerous ways to try to trick e-commerce sites into thinking you have money that will not exist after a few days, when some bank scam catches up with it.
The (understandable) fan anger over this seems to stem mostly from Blizzard’s customary non-communication about anything financial or technical. (Plus lingering fan rage over anything related to D3’s online-only DRM.) If Blizzard explained why they mandate these delays, and listed some of the scamming scenarios that occur without delays, and explained what kind of credit card or digital purchase had shorter delays, I think people would be more understanding. But then again, that very transparency would probably just give the hackers new windows to try to peek through. Alas.