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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.

  • This is just a matter of how much you want to ignore it.

  • wow there's some real losers in the world, if your too lazy too play the game and find these items yourself....then why play the game. don't get me wrong i understand the gold auction house i just don't get why anybody would pay real money for items you can just as easily get yourself.

  • Wow, it is pretty clear that the majority of people that have commented on this did not read the article. I would be willing to bet money the people complaining are not old enough to realize RMT stuff has been going on and is still going on for many games. Also, to the people b*tching about "pay for power" read up on the game. You would see that Blizzard is not making this game to be a competitive game. PvP isn't going to be focus of the game. "game director Jay Wilson flat-out stated that he's not worried about achieving any kind of e-sport-viable balance in PvP"

  • I don't care who's a sucker and who's not as long as I make money.

  • ......I can see the business sense in this. Curse you Economics class! You've taken away my power to rant!

  • its kinda waste of money.. example.. if this game going obsolete or not going popular anymore. their money are going alas. but anyway, i can say gamers are  brainy.

  • it doesn't really matter, this isn't a competitive game like world of Warcraft, diablo is ment to be play COOPERATIVELY. If someone goes out and spends real money on something then good for them. It allows people who don't have the time to earn the best stuff to still get it. I honestly think the real money auction houses are a good idea, it gives the hardcore players who go out of their way to collect every little thing a reward for their hard work. i have never seen so many people have a fit over the opportunity to make money haha

  • I don't understand why so many people are freaking out about this.

    A. It's optional, not required, Blizzard is not forcing anyone to pay more money.

    B. Diablo is mainly a co-operative experience, so giving people the opportunity to buy/sell (a.k.a. trade) items doesn't ruin the balance of the game, as the game is not really meant to be balanced in terms of PvP anyway.

    C. This marketplace already exists in many forms, for Diablo II and many other online games. The only difference is that Blizzard is actually making it legitimate and easier for people to buy/sell if they want to.

    D. As for Blizzard just trying to make a profit any way they can, there is no rule against that and they are taking a more than likely small cut of an optional service that people choose to use. They are not forcibly extorting money out of people on a regular or constant basis.

    If you don't like it, don't use it, and it won't matter.

    Personally, I think buying items makes the game too easy and defeats the purpose of all of those late night boss runs, always going "just one more time" to try to get that last set item or rare drop. However, if Blizzard is going to give me the opportunity to make money by playing a video game I'm planning on playing anyway, I'm all for that.

  • I'm just amazed that there's a game that directly allows players to make money, as opposed to gold farmers who then sell their digital goods outside of what the company intended.

  • Sweet.. Now a SD would be nice... 2012?

  • Real money AH's and no offline Single player or LAN, also no modding scene.

    Sorry but thats not how I imagined playing D3, so I guess I wont be playing it at all come release day. Sorry Blizzard-Acti, but I think you know where to stick it!

    PS. I play games to have fun, not turn them into a job.
  • hi

  • People are going to build livelihoods out of this system. Just watch.
  • Why do so many people get all worked up and their panties in a wad over stuff like this? If you don't like it, then don't use it. It's not forced upon you and is only an option from the other auction house. Either don't play the game or don't use the real market auction house. Soo many whiner's about something you can completely avoid and not look at.

  • this must be the official sign for me that i've crossed into being "OLD"...WHO THE HELL is "everypony" and why do you talk about him like he's (or they?) is/are some sort of force to be reckoned with? Screw everypony. The name its self beckons ridicule.
  • Maybe they did this is combat people paying for gold with real money like people do in pretty much all other MMOs, with you paying real money for the in-game items there is no need to spend your money on an unsafe real money trading service.  Even with this game not being an MMO, they obviously wanted players to be able to buy and sell items with each other and that would inevitably leads to real money trading services.  Not sure what Blizzard's position is on the practice of trading real money for gold (or whatever currency is used in any particular MMO) in their MMOs but I wouldn't believe they encourage it.

  • Well, Blizzard, I bid you adieu. Auf wiedersehen, hasta luego, ciao! I am done with your crap. I will now fully shift my allegiances to a different company. Thanks for the memories.

  • Do I smell a side job emerging?  "Wait...I get to play videogames AND make money? Woohoo!"

  • It sounds like Blizzard is taking exactly the right approach to this. When micro-transactions are a major source of the game's income, it's very tempting for the devs to cripple the game as a means of motivating purchases. DFO, for instance, has an extremely limited item storage box, but for a mere 600 NX (about $.60), the player can triple its capacity. There's no question that this is was a deliberate choice to spur purchase of their game currency. Diablo 3, on the other hand, wants to eliminate the black market by taking control of this market that's existed and will continue to exist. They are not trying to make money but to clean up some of the real problems that plagued Diablo 2. When third party websites are doing the selling, there's always the question of their honesty. If they should choose to cheat you, Blizzard would not be in any way involved, and you'd be on your own to protest the scam. With everything going through official Diablo 3 channels, there's much more security for the buyer. It's also more convenient for the buyers and sellers both: buyers can more easily buy, and it reduces the need for sellers to spam in public trade channels or to spam through whispers, both of which were problems in Diablo 2 last I played it. By not trying to make any money off of this, they're keeping their hands clean and avoiding the pitfalls that would be the "best choices" if their goal was to profit from it. They don't need to worry about how far they can cripple the UI without driving away too many customers. They don't need to offer exclusive game-breaking items only available for real money. These would be strong temptations but would dirty their image and reduce the quality of the game at our expense. I'm glad to see Blizzard taking the high road in this. I probably would rather sell my own items for in-game gold, but it's nice that if I wanted to do otherwise, I wouldn't need to make a pact with a shady dealer. I think I'm still against any interaction between game economies and the real world , but if it's legitimized, I might give it another thought.
  • now this might be a complacated situation there... its going to have some hastles and troubles thoughtout the game.. as real money is being delt here... one of the best - ish games coming out at some times the end of this year or to the mid next year.. ( after skyrim ) that you will have to work outside you house even.. just to maybe to get a sword of some sort for diablo 3 -.-, crazy as it maybe seem to look. rediculus?... no, i think in blizzards eyes its more for what they actually are producing. ( as to my thought anyhow )