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Diablo III to Feature Real Money Auction House for In-Game Items

The countdown to the first bankruptcy claim by a Diablo III player begins now.

It's no secret that Blizzard has struggled over the years with World of Warcraft and its various players/illicit sources making money off items featured in the game. Be it gold farmers in China, dudes selling swords on eBay, or whatever else, the demand for the sweetest of loot is high enough to where people are willing to plunk down actual cash money to get it.

Now, it sounds like Blizzard has figured out how to get in on the action.

GIANT BOMB GOT THE HOTTEST DIABLO III AUCTION HOUSE SCREENS CLICK HERE FOR THE AWESOME HOTNESS IT'S SO HOTTTT!!!

Blizzard today officially unveiled its plans for item transactions within the world of its upcoming action RPG, Diablo III. Similar to World of Warcraft, players will be able to use in-game gold to put items they collect up for sale via an in-game auction house--unlike WoW, however, they will also be able to put up items for cold, hard cash.

The system uses the same player-to-player auction model as the gold-based auction house, but, you know...for money. Each region will have its own respective currency, and players who sell items will have the option to keep the money in their Battle.net account for future transactions, or cash out entirely via a currently unknown third-party provider.

How does Blizzard make money on this whole process? By taking "nominal" fees, evidently. Blizzard will take a flat fee from the sale price of every transaction, and will also take a fee if you opt to cash out.

The question of the legality of such a system does immediately present itself, especially given the American government's recent crackdown on similar systems employed by online poker sites. Granted, those companies were skirting US gambling law by using offshore companies to house and transfer players' funds, but Blizzard's system does seem on the bleeding edge of what the government is generally okay with when it comes to online fund transfers. In speaking to Joystiq, Blizzard's Rob Pardo did have an explanation for how they plan to try and keep this all above board.

If there's a legal issue at all, it's likely in the "cash out" option. Blizzard is transferring some of the responsibility to the third-party provider and, in order to do that, players will need to choose, right away at time of sale, whether they want to keep the money in Battle.net, or take it out to cash with that extra percentage fee going to the third-party provider. Any money left in the system needs to stay there. Players won't be able to cash it out at any point in the future, except by buying Blizzard products and services. "We're not a bank," says Pardo. "We don't want to deal with all of those additional regulations. So that's going to be the responsibility of our third-party payment provider."

That Joystiq preview features a much longer conversation with Pardo that makes for fascinating reading if you want to learn about how Blizzard plans to make this whole scheme work.

Gotta ask it: How many of you out there would use a system like this? Are you "hardcore" enough to pay cash for the sweetest of loots? Or is in-game gold more-than-sufficient for your play style?

Alex Navarro on Google+
235 Comments
Posted by Alex

It's no secret that Blizzard has struggled over the years with World of Warcraft and its various players/illicit sources making money off items featured in the game. Be it gold farmers in China, dudes selling swords on eBay, or whatever else, the demand for the sweetest of loot is high enough to where people are willing to plunk down actual cash money to get it.

Now, it sounds like Blizzard has figured out how to get in on the action.

GIANT BOMB GOT THE HOTTEST DIABLO III AUCTION HOUSE SCREENS CLICK HERE FOR THE AWESOME HOTNESS IT'S SO HOTTTT!!!

Blizzard today officially unveiled its plans for item transactions within the world of its upcoming action RPG, Diablo III. Similar to World of Warcraft, players will be able to use in-game gold to put items they collect up for sale via an in-game auction house--unlike WoW, however, they will also be able to put up items for cold, hard cash.

The system uses the same player-to-player auction model as the gold-based auction house, but, you know...for money. Each region will have its own respective currency, and players who sell items will have the option to keep the money in their Battle.net account for future transactions, or cash out entirely via a currently unknown third-party provider.

How does Blizzard make money on this whole process? By taking "nominal" fees, evidently. Blizzard will take a flat fee from the sale price of every transaction, and will also take a fee if you opt to cash out.

The question of the legality of such a system does immediately present itself, especially given the American government's recent crackdown on similar systems employed by online poker sites. Granted, those companies were skirting US gambling law by using offshore companies to house and transfer players' funds, but Blizzard's system does seem on the bleeding edge of what the government is generally okay with when it comes to online fund transfers. In speaking to Joystiq, Blizzard's Rob Pardo did have an explanation for how they plan to try and keep this all above board.

If there's a legal issue at all, it's likely in the "cash out" option. Blizzard is transferring some of the responsibility to the third-party provider and, in order to do that, players will need to choose, right away at time of sale, whether they want to keep the money in Battle.net, or take it out to cash with that extra percentage fee going to the third-party provider. Any money left in the system needs to stay there. Players won't be able to cash it out at any point in the future, except by buying Blizzard products and services. "We're not a bank," says Pardo. "We don't want to deal with all of those additional regulations. So that's going to be the responsibility of our third-party payment provider."

That Joystiq preview features a much longer conversation with Pardo that makes for fascinating reading if you want to learn about how Blizzard plans to make this whole scheme work.

Gotta ask it: How many of you out there would use a system like this? Are you "hardcore" enough to pay cash for the sweetest of loots? Or is in-game gold more-than-sufficient for your play style?

Staff
Edited by Bollard

The fact that there's another auction house that doesn't use real money makes me think this isn't a problem.

Posted by laserbolts
@Chavtheworld
aaa
Insightful. But yeah this is no surprise and doesn't bother me at all. It's better than some jerk off selling shit on ebay.
Edited by Sinful

Why Grind with my sword when I can Swipe my card?

Posted by Aronman789

Well shit.  
 
When's Torchlight 2 out?

Posted by Henny

The downward spiral of eternal trading with the Devil begins here folks.

Posted by JoeyRavn

@laserbolts said:

But yeah this is no surprise and doesn't bother me at all. It's better than some jerk off selling shit on ebay.

Same here. What does catch my attention is the fact that Blizzard is using a DRM similar tu Ubisoft's. You need to be constantly online to play the game, even if you're just playing single player. I understand they want to prevent cheating when there is money involved, but I wonder how much backlash will it get. Ubisoft's DRM is not held in a high esteem by gamers.

Posted by Coreymw

I wouldn't use a system like this. I won't spend enough time in-game to warrant purchasing higher quality items. I'll jump in a few times a week with friends and that'll be that. Whatever I pickup is what I have.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I've seen other micro pay stuff but... auction?  Do you put your money in in advance? Can you bail out? So weird.

Edited by Sinful

Zynga didn't make this game did they? OH wait..it's Bobby at it again.
 
Guess what...dupers can feed their families now! The World is at peace.

Edited by PenguinDust

The question I have is will all the "purples" be sold for real-world cash leaving nothing but "greens" for the virtual currency auction house?  Would that put getting really good items in the hands of those willing to pay real money only?  I'm not sure how fair that is since it turns the cash driven auction house into a privileged-only store.   This is what happens in the F2P MMOs I've seen.  

Posted by CastroCasper

If I read this right, then I could sell my ultra rare items for real cash right? So essentially if I played enough, I would get my initial investment back, right? It seems kinda cool, but something I'll probably never use.

Posted by HeadNodShy

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

And yea...

@Aronman789 said:

When's Torchlight 2 out?
Edited by WinterSnowblind

@Chavtheworld said:

The fact that there's another auction house that doesn't use real money makes me think this isn't a problem.

Except nobody is going to use that one when they could be making real money. It's going to destroy the games economy and like most other microtransaction systems: give a huge advantage to players willing to spend money. This not only kills the sense of progression, but could completely unbalance PVP.

Posted by ryanwho

My ass has room for this. Yeah Im earning things over time and other people are buying cheat items. Its cool. I got more room up there.

Posted by PopBot

Gross. Watching the Activision-Blizzard PR spin the latest bad news (no mods, always-online DRM, this cash trade system) has left me feeling slimy just by proximity. Gotta get that green harvest of cash money I guess.

Posted by Bedurndurn

Oh wait, you're serious; let me laugh even harder.

Posted by Marz

This was already happening in Diablo 2 in a not so legal way and if you are somewhat shocked and appalled that this is a feature now, then you were clearly out of the loop.  Blizzard is just circumventing the inevitable and taking responsibility.

Posted by Noxtis

I guess it's better than all of it going on ebay, but I would never pay for the stuff. I'm more disappointed that there will be no offline :/

Posted by Daveyo520

In game money is just fine.

Online
Edited by ryanwho
@Marz said:

This was already happening in Diablo 2 in a not so legal way and if you are somewhat shocked and appalled that this is a feature now, then you were clearly out of the loop.  Blizzard is just circumventing the inevitable and taking responsibility.

Word on including things from Diablo 2. So they'll also just let me buy a hacked necromancer day 1 so I can summon 100 skeletons to fight another hacked dude and his army of 100 cow warriors? That's a real time saver cus my dll editing is rusty.
Posted by Wick

Well at least you don't have to pay full price for it

Wait

Posted by Impossibilium
@Aronman789 said:
Well shit.   When's Torchlight 2 out?
 
That's what I thought. 

I played D1 and D2 and the expansion but I have no interest in World of Diablo Jnr. which is what this is becoming.
Posted by zameer

@Chavtheworld: Pretty much, yeah.

Posted by Donoram

This is gross. At least in Diablo 2 I could mostly ignore everyone selling duped swords and bullshit sparkling gray socks of the whale, but now every moron will be able to build their personal gold farm with the click of a button. Who the hell will sell things for in game currency when they can just sell it for real cash.

Balls to this.

Posted by Skywarpgold

I'm still amazed that companies are actually encouraging people to not play the games they're buying, which is essentially what this, and other microtransactions of this nature, is doing. It's akin to EA's pay-for-cheat-codes. I'd much rather play the game and get the full experience than pay more money to skip ahead (in this case, by getting items you haven't found yet). So lame.

Posted by MeatSim

I say no to micro-transactions like this.

Posted by ryanwho

This crap isn't really a problem for single player only games. If you wanna make your game a breeze, that's fine. It comes into conflict, though, when you're in a community basically doing things over the table that Chinese farmers used to get payed to do under the table.

Posted by onarum

Yep it's official, with the news on the DRM and now this is clear that as off now Activi$ion policies have effectively sipped into Blizzard, I guess kotick is paying more frequent visits to them, RIP blizzard you will be missed.

Posted by Thor_Molecules

It's a cash shop for high-level items, and they manage to spin it like it's a good thing.  
Shit like this makes me want to punch a baby.

Posted by YoungFrey

I'm not really worried.  One thing gold farmers have shown the world is that the time of western players is worth a lot.  A player might get lucky and see an ultra-rare drop, but statistically the time required to farm that kind of stuff pales in comparison to the time it would take to earn the cash to buy it.  You might see one amazing item drop after weeks aof play.  But it'll be worth like $10.  Think about it this way, if items worth over $1 were at all common, no Diablo III player would pay for WoW again.

Posted by jozzy

This will not be fine at all, think about how this will affect co-op play. When there is money involved players wont be playing nice anymore. They will need a good system against ninja looting, but even then it just changes the way you play when every loot drop makes you wonder how much that thing will be worth on auction.

I hope they have seperate servers for people who don't want to deal with this shit at all, seperate auction houses will not be enough when the people you are playing with still have money on their minds.

Posted by Coreymw

@Buckfitches: I don't understand your issue with this. You have options. Use the real money auction house, or don't. You can still use the in-game money auction house, which requires no money out of pocket. Why do options make you want to punch a baby? That seems cruel and unwarranted.

Posted by ChickenPants

Not quite sure how I feel about this. Hate the way it lets players 'buy power' and get the best loot without the effort. It will be annoying seeing other players in PvM just cutting through monsters without any trouble just because they were willing to put some money on the table. I can always leave the game and find another one though...This went on in Diablo II aswell through shady third-party sites but I never felt like it was too common. Blizzard creating their own Hamsterdam might make it far more widespread. On top of that I can imagine a really ugly metagame developing of people purely exploiting and min/maxing the PvM treasure-hunting experience purely to maximise real life monetary gain through any number of insidious methods.
 
This could really make or break PvP. I read an interview with Jay Wilson where he felt confident that their match-making system would be sufficient in preventing huge mismatches in the arena. Even if this is true, it's sad to think that the top-tier PvP players will probably just be people who spent the most money.
 
Ultimately, I feel that if you are going out and buying the gear you want  you're losing sight of the game and missing out on what makes Diablo Diablo. The loot. The progression. The micromanagement. The glorious randomised treasure hunting. That being said, I understand the people who work 12 hour days, have a family and kids and might only get an hour to play Diablo every other day. I can't really begrudge them the ability to drop some Brad Bucks to experience the coolest loot in the game has to offer.
 
TL;DR - I'm against spending real money in game, but I may sell some of my wares to make some real money. :)

Posted by Unchained

I don't understand the blow-back regarding the DRM. Isn't Starcraft II using the exact same thing? "Must be online even if playing single-player campaign" - I thought it would be a given therefore with Blizzard's other games.

The auction house thing is interesting. I'm still on the fence whether I like or not or even if I care or not. I'm a single-player gamer anyway, so I might just stick to whatever drops I get.

Posted by notsonic

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Posted by mracoon

Half the fun of Diablo for me us finding all the sweet loot but if people want to rob themselves of that experience that's up to them.

Moderator
Posted by Khann

@Coreymw said:

@Buckfitches: I don't understand your issue with this. You have options. Use the real money auction house, or don't. You can still use the in-game money auction house, which requires no money out of pocket. Why do options make you want to punch a baby? That seems cruel and unwarranted.

Who is going to sell decent gear for in-game cash when they can sell it for real cash? All you will see in the

"fake money" auction house is garbage.

Posted by Khann

@Unchained said:

I don't understand the blow-back regarding the DRM. Isn't Starcraft II using the exact same thing? "Must be online even if playing single-player campaign" - I thought it would be a given therefore with Blizzard's other games.

The auction house thing is interesting. I'm still on the fence whether I like or not or even if I care or not. I'm a single-player gamer anyway, so I might just stick to whatever drops I get.

There is no single player

Posted by ChickenPants
@jozzy: Players only see their own loot when it drops, other players can't see it unless you pick it up and drop it again. I'll miss ninja looting :(
I do agree with you on how it could change the gameplay dynamic. When monetary gain is on offer people may become quite nasty. That combined with standard internet assholeness could make a disgusting experience.
Posted by Binman88

I actually think this is kinda awesome. The game will still behave exactly as people hoped, with the added option to buy and sell in game items. If you choose to ignore it, this will have absolutely no bearing on your experience whatsoever.

Posted by ChickenPants
@Khann: There is single player.
People will sell items for gold because gold will be a valuable commodity and they will inevitably need more of it.
Posted by FritzDude

I don't like the directions Blizzard is taking on Diablo 3...

Posted by hexx462

This really isn't worth getting super pissed off about. Gold farmers have caused massive damage to the integrity of online gaming and they are seemingly unkillable. Taking the power away (read CASH FLOW) looks to be the only legitimate way to fight their kind. The real problem is that people are more than willing to spend money on loot whether we like it or not, I'd rather Blizzard/Activision control it then have it fun the shady sorts that run Gold Farming "Businesses".

Posted by subyman

You pretty much want to be connected to battle.net while playing Diablo III anyway. I'm not too concerned about the internet DRM. Its not like it is a strictly single player experience like AC2. I will not be buying anything on the cash AH, but I may be selling :)

Posted by ryanwho
@Binman88 said:
I actually think this is kinda awesome. The game will still behave exactly as people hoped, with the added option to buy and sell in game items. If you choose to ignore it, this will have absolutely no bearing on your experience whatsoever.
Except that the people who utilize it will be on the same server as you when you play online. Would it be acceptable for someone to be able to buy some kind of rocket launcher for COD and make no distinction between people who purchased the OP item and people who didn't? Would that have no bearing on the experience, being mixed in with people who basically always win PvP cus they spent more real money? You guys are pulling at threads here. Like beaten wives, these apologists.
Posted by RiotBananas

@Sinful said:

Why Grind with my sword when I can Swipe my card?

Word.

Edited by Khann

@hexx462 said:

This really isn't worth getting super pissed off about. Gold farmers have caused massive damage to the integrity of online gaming and they are seemingly unkillable. Taking the power away (read CASH FLOW) looks to be the only legitimate way to fight their kind. The real problem is that people are more than willing to spend money on loot whether we like it or not, I'd rather Blizzard/Activision control it then have it fun the shady sorts that run Gold Farming "Businesses".

I'm sorry but I fail to see how this stops gold farmers at all. If anything it allows them to be more blatant because they're encouraged to do what they do. Blizzard won't give two shits either because they'll be getting their cut.

Nothing about this is about 'improving the game', it's purely a way for Blizzard to make money on something they weren't able to before.

Posted by Coreymw

@Khann: That's assuming Blizzard doesn't find a way to make using the fake money auction house just as lucrative as the real money auction house. Regardless of who their in bed with, Blizzard are still the best when it comes to balance.

Posted by Ares42
@Kurtdyoung said:

If I read this right, then I could sell my ultra rare items for real cash right? So essentially if I played enough, I would get my initial investment back, right? It seems kinda cool, but something I'll probably never use.

You're sorta reading it right, but at the same time a bit short-sighted. Yes, it will be possible for someone to buy the game and sell items to get his money back. But for that to happen someone else has to buy the game and pay for yours. And not only that, since Blizzard will tax every auction, the other guy will have to pay for his own game, your game and the auction fees. The whole thing can almost be compared to a pyramid-scheme at worst, or a casino at best. There will be some people coming out of it rich, but the game is rigged and there will be way more people "losing" money than gaining it.