Yes you read that right. You buy a game digitally since it's convenient, you don't have to leave home, and it leaves you not having to worry about messed up install discs and you get penalized by Blizzard.
So wait. You're punishing somebody that's put down money for one of your products. How does this help your business model? I could see this working out for unverified copies as a form of copy protection. You know. Random person grabs Diablo 3 off some site/torrent whatever, and starts playing. Game lets them finish the first act then a popup hits 'Hey. You like this game don't you? How about supporting the people that put years of hard work into it so they can make more games.' and then provide a way for said theoretical downloader to purchase a serial, or digital key, or whatever to convert that pirated version into a legitimate sale.
If that was the case I wouldn't be upset at all. I'd be impressed. Granted back in the 90's that was called shareware and you didn't have to download the entire game just to play it (that was sortof a feature. Connections were slower then so the less you had to get the fewer hours you had to spend waiting for it to grab. Plus you could bundle a ton of shareware on a single cd.)
Instead that seems to not be the case here and it's punishing actual customers who have already paid money to play. This is the opposite of customer support. It's like... I dunno... Activision tapped blizzard on the shoulder and went 'Hey I know you worked really hard on this whole Diablo 3 thing and if it's handled wrong you might lose a whole bunch of customers off of bad press, but we really want you to do a few things about this whole 'piracy' thing.
Blizzard. Let's sit down for a bit alright chummer? I'm sure you've had lots of nerd rage directed your way over this, requiring a connection to play single player, and it's probably making it hard for you to focus and act rationally. So I'm not going to sit and demand this or that. I'm not going to say I'm going to ask for a boycott of Diablo, or other games.
Instead I'm going to ask you to look at a proven working strategy and see if you can't learn a lesson or three. Is Steam perfect? No of course not. Can I say with a straight face that it can and will prevent all instances of infringement and not paying for content? No.
It is, on the other hand, good enough as a distribution method and security layer that valve has made buckets and buckets of money using it as a distribution channel. Learn from how Steam does things. Apply it to your own content. By this I mean little things like only needing an internet connection every so often. Allowing gamers to download, and play offline, not gimping games that are bought through your own distribution chain.
Seriously what was your thought process there Blizz? Was there a thought process? Were your hands tied by Meddling Executives that still think the internet is a scary place full of filthy pirates?
OK granted that is somewhat true We (being the Internet at large) react nicer when we're treated with respect and that we are valued as customers rather than getting slapped in the face, treated like criminals, then given a whitewashed answer for our complaints and treated like we don't matter.
Let's move away from gaming and look at this in terms non-gamers are likely to understand. Also thank you random GU-Forumite for the analogy.
You have an e-book for you nook/kindle/whatever. You buy it through the official storefront. However you can only read the first five chapters and you have to wait a weekend before you can read the rest.
This would not be considered good customer relations strategy. So why are you doing it to gamers?