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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.

  • I wonder if the Activision side of Blizzard came up with this idea.

  • Hmmmmm...I heard this *promise/idea* come out from another game before...now which one was it?

    Awnser:Fable 3

  • Everypony in foreign countries are going to create groups of people dedicated to finding rare items and charge everypony else exorbant prices.

  • I don't have any problem with it. In fact it sounds like a good time. I can't wait to start this game and see where this RMT auction house thing eventually goes. I don't care who is taking what percentage of the sale, this is a safe way for people to conduct an otherwise shady transaction. I would never purchase any item for my video game character with real money, but I might take the opportunity to sell items though.

    This really reminds me of all of that Avatar crap that Microsoft sells for people to play dress up with. It seems like the same thing. Buying digital paraphernalia for your digital character with real money. Maybe it's Blizzard just following the trend. Either way it's a waste of money.

  • Im actually glad to hear this. More than likly, Ill never buy my items, but as for selling some, Im all for it. And if Bliz gets a small cut, so be it. If the money goes back into the game, all the better for us.
  • WTF.

    Let's not stamp out gold farmers, let's make them legal! I can literally feel all the people in Chinese jails that are forced to farm WoW crying.

    No modding, always-on DRM and real money auction houses? I'm buying Torchlight 2.
  • I bet the gold farmers are looking forward to a change of pace.
  • stuff like this makes me want to be a casual gamer

  • I'll be able to make money playing video games? How can this make me mad?
  • Really Blizz? Really? You dont need any more money!

  • well, i was looking to play diablo 3, now that game can go to hell i aint buying it..

  • I was looking forward to playing this, now I know this is going to have always online DRM and a real money auction house, I'm going to stick with Torchlight II.

  • I don't have a problem with this at all - I mean people have been selling gear for real cash for a long time now. Diablo II gear listings are all over e-bay, so who cares if Blizzard chooses to handle the transactions themselves. I'm not going to buy any of the crap, and I doubt my friends, that I'll be playing this with, will either. I don't even mind the DRM - if it prevents hacking and cheating I'm for it.
  • I told you all I was going to quit my job when D3 came out. Originally just because I was going to play until I ran out of money, but now I have the means to continue play FOR-EV-ER!!!

  • Ok but the problem is that PvP is just as easy as Co-op...and there are TONS of people out there who would just as soon kill you as look at you if they are a higher level, take all of your loot, and use that to further improve themselves.  The system is going to create imbalance unless they find a way to restrict lobbies based on the gear purchased and used.

  • The real money auction house is a little strange to me, but it doesn't bother me all that much.  I can see the points in having it.

    What does bother me is always having to have an internet connection in order to play a game I paid for.  I should be able to play it anytime, as long as my PC boots up.  Whether this is to prevent piracy or not, I dont like it.  There have been select occasions where my internet goes out.  Happens to everyone at some point.  And when that happens Im punished as a consumer.  I could understand this if it were an mmorpg.  But this is not.  

  • Blizz... you b***h... like you're not making too much money as it is right now...

  • i dont get what exactly is wrong with this it seams perfectly fine to me i wont be using it [i like to get my own weapons] but i dont see the problem other than people using up all there money on it some times
  • I hear a collective sigh from the slave labor in China. Oh well, at least they get a new game!

  • sweet no i can live the dream life dungeon crawling drinking dr pepper all day and getting paid for it , THANK YOU DIABLO 3