Diablo 3 Auction House Impressions
It seems like every time Blizzard announces something Diablo III related, there is a giant uproar of unhappiness from the fans who have been following Diablo III news since Blizzard first announced its development.
Today, fans have a lot of Diablo III news to debate over. With recent announcements of a player-to-player auction system and that you can only play Diablo III while being connected to the internet, there is plenty for fans to complain about, but is it really that bad? Let's take a look at some of the announcements regarding Diablo III, and see if they are good or bad for players.
The most recent news is the introduction of an in-game, real-world cash auction system. We're all used to in-game auction houses, but nothing like what Blizzard is introducing in Diablo III. For the first time, a game will incorporate a player-to-player auction system that will allow players to buy and sell in-game items for real-world cash. The idea of buying items for cash isn't anything new. Plenty of free-to-play games have in-game stores where players can buy items from the company for cash; it's how the company makes money. This system, however, is groundbreaking because it allows players to buy and sell from each other—in a regulated environment—and not from some sketchy, foreign website run by gold farmers. Not only does this system ensure that players won't be getting scammed, but it also enables Blizzard to get their share of the profit when an item is sold.
Ultimately, the decision to include this real-cash system comes down to profit. The fact is, when you create a game that lets people trade items that are both rare and valuable, you create a black market. This black market is usually in the form of a foreign-run website, where players can go and purchase items or gold for cash. Not only do the people who are forced to play for hours to "gold farm" face health dangers (this is a big problem in foreign countries), but from a business stand point, Blizzard gets no cut of the profit from this. So rather than just ban players who rely on this "black market" or banish the people who gold farm, Blizzard is embracing this. The fact is, people are going to do it, so why not incorporate it into the game and make a little money off of it?
The way Blizzard is incorporating it into Diablo III isn't going to break the game structure at all, either. It will still be a self-sustained, player-run economy. Players will be charged a flat fee to list an item (similar to Ebay). If that item sells, there will be another flat fee paid to Blizzard. The price of the item has no effect on the fee, and the "nominal" fee will dissuade players from dumping everything they find on the auction block. Blizzard won't be selling items directly to increase revenue, and since the drops are random and only players can sell to other players, the economy is self-contained. Pardo did say that cosmetic items may be sold on the market.
The auction house will allow people to purchase items for gold in one house and cash in another. After you sell an item, you can either remove the money from the game and use it in the real world via a third-party company, or keep it in the game to use on other auctions, Blizzard games, subscription fees, or Blizzard merchandise. Blizzard seems to be handling the currency issue in a smart and safe way. Blizzard will be limiting the auction house to one per currency. If you're in a country that uses euros, for instance, your auction house is shared with other euro-using regions.
It looks like Blizzard is taking the "If you can't beat em, join em" approach to gold/gear farming. Pardo stated: "What's the difference between a player that plays the game a lot and a gold farmer? They're really doing the same activity. If you are doing an activity where all you're trying to do is generate items for the auction house, you're not making someone else's game experience poorer. If anything you're making the game better, because you're generating items for the auction house that people want to purchase."
Basically, people are going sell it and people are going to buy it. So why not just include it into the game and provide a safe, legit way to do this without the fear of being ripped off or banned? It's not going to break the game. You don't have to buy or sell for cash, if you'd rather stick to in-game currency. For those of you who think it will kill the point of Hardcore mode, Blizzard has already announced that hardcore players won't have access to the real-money auction house.
Personally, I like the idea of being rewarded for my hard work and time spent in the game. This system enables the people who really put time into the game to be rewarded. Those who don't have the time to farm endlessly for gear are still able to enjoy it through purchases. Who knows, this could be a great summertime job for some of you hardcore gamers out there. Who said you'd never amount to anything playing video games?
Watch the Diablo 3 'Follower System'
On to the next bit of news coming from Blizzard, which is that the game will only be accessible if you are connected to the internet. I get why people are upset. Nobody wants to be constricted or told what to do with their game. After all, we are the ones who shell out the money for it. If I want to play the game without being on the internet I should damn well be allowed to, but at the end of the day, does it really matter? How often is your computer not connected to the internet? My computer at home is always connected. We're at the point where it's impossible to find a place that doesn't offer internet. Even Starbucks and Mcdonalds offer internet!
Honestly, I don't see the big fuss over this DRM, aside from connection drops causing you lose your progress. I can see how that is annoying, but if it combats hackers, dupers, or anything else that ruined Diablo 2, then I am all for it. Not to mention, always being online allows Blizzard to incorporate plenty of additional elements to the game, such as a persistent friends list, cross-game chat through the RealID system, persistent characters stored server-side, PvP and game matching, drop-in/drop-out co-op, larger item stash, an auction house, an achievement system, and a banner system which allows you to display your successes in the game. It's not like Blizzard is the first to adopt this form of gameplay either. Capcom and Ubisoft have both used this same DRM in their games.
What are your thoughts on the real-world cash auction house? Are you for or against the online-play only?