Battle.net account holders discovered early this morning that they all had access to the Diablo III beta client. Upon downloading the game and logging in, they found they had access to everything a typical closed beta account did.
What was different? The characters they'd create would be tagged with the label "Starter Edition" and upon reaching the limits of the beta, they'd be prompted to purchase the full version of the game. Blizzard has since shut down the servers for maintenance.
"11:15 a.m. PDT- The Diablo III beta is currently unavailable until further notice while we continue to work to resolve an issue affecting the beta accessibility. We will provide an update at approximately 3 p.m. PDT. Thank you for your patience."
Blizzard is likely rushing not only to fix the accessibility issues, but also to create a PR response to our questions on the Starter Edition. Of course, the inclusion of a free-to-play demo is not a surprise, StarCraft 2 has something very similar in place, but the timing of implementing such a system could cause some drama.
After all, the Diablo III PvP system has been removed from the release game, to be added through a free patch at a later date. Is a free-to-play system being prioritized over content many Diablo III fans were expecting at launch? That isn't to say Blizzard shouldn't do what they can to maximize profits, not that they aren't doing that already with the auction system. Okay, time to stop before this becomes a full-on rant.
Should Blizzard update us on the situation in any significant way, we'll be sure to fill you in on the news. Otherwise, take away the knowledge that you'll likely be able to try Act 1 of Diablo III before you purchase the full game.