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Diablo III

Diablo III Will Have Real Money Auction House

Blizzard is taking a wildly unconventional step with its upcoming action/RPG. Diablo III will allow players to buy and sell items from each other using real money.

Each currency region will have its own auction house, accessible in-game. Players must pay a flat listing fee per item (though Blizzard is leaning toward giving everyone a small number of free listings per week), and set initial bids and buyout prices. Buyers can set their bids to automatically increase up to set levels rather than paying the buyout price, if they wish. When the item sells, Blizzard takes a flat cut of the sale, and the seller can choose to cash it out via a third-party payment processor (which will charge a percentage fee) or to leave it in their Battle.net account to use on any Blizzard digital product. These purchases could vary from full games to World of Warcraft subscriptions and sparkleponies.

Once you transfer your funds to Battle.net, though, you can't choose to cash it back out into currency. Getting money out of the system is a one-time opportunity at the time of the sale. Blizzard says that this is for legal reasons; apparently if the company lets players withdraw money at will, it would face many additional legal requirements just like a bank.

Any item in the game can be put up for auction, and you can set the price wherever you like. Blizzard expects prices to stabilize in the single-digit dollar range for most good items, with perhaps a few exceptional ones making it to double digits. That sounds about right as a back-of-the-napkin estimate, based on what we've seen in secondary markets for other games.

Blizzard says it will not sell items directly. The auction house is strictly a player-to-player market – not that players would have any way to tell if the company slipped a few items into the economy, since the auction house is anonymous both ways. You'll never know who sold you an item, or who bought one of yours. There is no reason to assume bad faith on Blizzard's part here, but the fact remains that there is no transparency.

All cash transactions must go through the auction house. You can still trade with your friends and give them items in-game just like in Diablo II, but you can't make any trades involving cash outside the auction house.

A parallel in-game gold auction house will function identically with gold as the currency instead of dollars, euros, or pounds sterling. All of the functionality is shared between both markets.

Hardcore characters – in Diablo terms, characters that are deleted upon death – are excluded from the real money auction house. They can still use the gold auction house, but all hardcore characters are permanently barred from the real money side.

We all know that the gold farmers and other grey marketeers will look at this as an opportunity. Blizzard's stance is that they would do that anyway, and it intends to police cheating and botting as aggressively as ever. In fact, you can only play the game online (see the gameplay preview for more details) – every single Diablo III character is stored on Blizzard's secure servers.

To hate, or not to hate

Before you fly off the handle (trust me, that was my first reaction too), consider the fact that the secondary market will exist whether Blizzard sanctions it or not. Heck, people still pay cash for Diablo II items. At least this way you're not giving your credit card to a shady gray market operator in China.

That said, I wish there were a way I could flag a character to ignore the real money transactions and only play with other non-RMT heroes. Hardcore characters are like that already, but I don't always want to play hardcore style.

Ultimately, Diablo isn't about competition nearly to the extent of World of Warcraft or a competitive shooter or RTS – game director Jay Wilson flat-out stated that he's not worried about achieving any kind of e-sport-viable balance in PvP. As long as I can still co-op with my buddies and have a good time taking down the prime evils (which is a question I'm not worried about the answer to, as my gameplay hands-on preview reveals), I'm not going to throw a huge fit over the RMT auction house.

  • oooh ,man people are gunna spend there life selling items on this game can see it now
  • No. No. Wow. This will be a bottomless pit full of criticism and media scandals. World of Warcraft sucks away the money of its players easily enough without Blizzard outright enabling it.

    I can only imagine how many times I'll hear the story of someone pissing away all of their cash on Diablo 3 Auctions because they can and are too stupid to know any better. Maybe some kid emptying out Mom and Dad's bank account. After all, game currency takes time to farm, but look, your savings are just sitting there.

    It certainly won't look good for all gamers when these stories pop up, and you can compare it to blowing your savings on Meth. WoW never charged more than $15 a month, but this is just carelessness and greed down to its very roots.
  • Oh my, everypony might be a little worried about this one, well, in any case, real bits are less confusing than online bits.
  • I was semi okay with this until I saw Blizz get's a cut of the sale. Really, guys? Not making enough money, huh?
  • You guys remember how Elite had huge flak just for having a premium version of its otherwise free service? Well if this doesn't blow up with huge controversy then Diablo fans are some incredibly forgiving people.
  • and this is the start of the fall of mankind... and their wallets.

  • Lol, look at it this way... at least now you can quit your day job and earn money by playing something you love instead of working everyday :P  Now you REALLY have no excuse not to play D3 24/7

  • Yuck. I don't care how optional this thing is. Putting this feature in is just disgusting. Shame on you Blizzard. Suddenly horse armor doesn't look so bad.

    Sorry Adam but consider my handle flown.
  • The only thing that bothers me is that I will have much harder time trading items at the moment. Let say I have certain runes and would like to trade them for Windforce, will I find a trader with one willing to trade with me rather than getting money for it ?

  • You know, this is ugly enough, but did you completely ignored the one big issue I have with their intentions with Diablo III. They also announced, at the same time mind you, that D3 will be online only! WTF?
  • I can't believe all the hyperbolic non-sense I see going on in here. You guys don't (or are unable to) think 5 seconds in front of yourselves.

    This kind of crap ALREADY goes on. Look at Diablo 2. Look at Everquest, FFXI, WoW, etc.

    It already happens. Why not go with that and do what Blizzard did? It's like when your parents knew you were going to drink for high school graduation so they let you and your friends party in their basement, so that they knew you were safe and not wrapped around a tree somewhere.

    I think the same bunch of you were complaining about SC2s implementation of map creators charging for their custom maps...*sigh*

    You fickle casual gamers always complain when you get what you asked for. I think it's just in your nature to NEVER be happy, no matter how cool something will turn out to be.
  • they should just do this with in-game money.

  • Blizz is right, this kind of stuff would happen anyway, so why not try to embrace it and run it in-house, where there's some security and control? I wonder how the price market will end up shaking out. I'd be amazed if 6-8 months after release we're reading an article about someone who has turned selling digital items into a full-time job...

  • Good thing I don't care enough to buy items with real money.

    This really is just a way for Blizz to make money off us without charging us to play per month.

  • I mean, everypony should be kind of angry about this (If that is okay... with you, of course... I mean).  It is a cheap moneymaker for Blizzard and it will cause many people to spend too much money.

  • Everypony on Fox News will be all over this, I can see it now. Also, I don't see why the flank they wouldn't give some free listings.
  • Looks like someone was inspired by the TF2 model.
  • Well Blizzard is an awesome company back when I used to play WoW, and I think this is a new idea. I'm pretty sure no other company has tried this yet, and if I'm wrong, then never mind. But there are a bunch of gold farmers in WoW, and I agree that it would be more secure doing a transaction in Blizzard's servers. At least this way, gold farmers won't profit, but they'll still find a way.

  • So much for never being able to "buy power" in a Blizz game. Guess that whole stance got thrown off the action bar. lol.

    I think it cheapens the game in that any rich jerk can buy his way to the top and it trivializes the achievements of legitimate players. Half the fun is being able to show off your stuff to your friends. Anyone with nice gear now can just be accused of buying it.

    But it's smart from a business perspective. It allows Kotick to get a cut of what was already going on and it saves them some legal fees. Instead of fighting it they can give into it and profit off it.

    I'd be pissed if i wasn't already skipping Activision games. Looking forward to future stories about how some kid spent all his parents' money etc.
  • I'm certainly not going to use a feature such as this in any game (For one I don't have the money. Two, I agree that it feels like cheating) but I suppose it does make sense, though it's certainly not the system I would've endorsed (business ethics is out the window apparently). I believe the term is gold farming? And it's been going on for a long time. At least now lazy players' transactions will be a little safer (and legitimate).

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