A chunk of Diablo III is now free to play, Blizzard has announced.

The Diablo III Starter Edition allows players to progress as far as the Skeleton King in Act 1 without having to purchase the game.

The Starter Edition is available for download on Battle.net, or those interested can simply install the game from a friend’s disc and then fire up Blizzard's game service to activate it.

Using the Starter Edition, matchmaking is only available with others using the free service, access to both auction houses is blocked, and there is a level cap of 13.

All game progress is preserved should the full edition be purchased.