This article is in response to Blizzard Entertainment’s release of information about the new Diablo III Auction House System. Click the Hyperlinks in the previous sentence for more information if you are not familiar with Blizzard or Diablo. Doing so is not necessary before reading the rest of this article!
The bottom line is:
“Blizzard has revealed that there will be two auction houses available to players through the Battle.net interface: one which uses in-game gold as a currency (just as the WoW auction house does) and one which uses real world money such as dollars, euros or similar depending on which region you play in.” –Diablofans
For now, I will not re-post the vast amounts of information available at the source links at the end of this article. I trust you to do a bit of reading to find out more! Now to the point…
Blizzard Legitimizing Real-World Cash for In-Game Goods?
As the title of this article suggests, it seems that Blizzard may finally be taking a different approach on real-world money being used to purchase in-game items. We all recognize the standard WoW gold farmer and how annoying and unsafe it is to deal with that kind of nonsense. However, I have always been of the opinion that Blizzard (to give an example for this article) should regulate real-life sales of in-game goods and go ahead and take a cut of the profits (a very small cut, mind you). They might be thinking along the same lines, and meeting two extremes in the middle with the new Diablo III Auction House!
If you can’t stop the scammers and gold farmers and account sellers from doing business, why on earth would you not attempt to put them out of business completely by regulating it yourself? Let’s face it, wow gold farmers are not drug dealers, and the items they sell are just for fun (it’s all a game after all, right?) so why try to fight a war with them (wasting time and resources that should be spent on improving and developing the game)? I do however, have a problem with gold farmers (and other third-party in-game item, currency and service selling marketers) making a profit off of the product another company has made and has legally forbidden them to abuse and exploit. I do not however, have a problem with buying gold and in-game items if that is how a player chooses to spend their money and it is allowed by the game developer.
I am quite sure there are many people out there who would disagree with me and say things like “selling items for real money will mess up the game balance and in-game economy” or “buying items with real money will give people an unfair advantage” or “this company is ‘selling out’ by offering paid services and items.” While there is truth to those statements, I believe on the whole it would be better for a game to regulate the entirety of the in-game economy by allowing real-world money purchases and sales instead of letting untrustworthy third-party companies and users run their own auction services and controlling the game from outside. This of course would only apply to games such as MMO’s and online RPGs that have created a demand for such third-party services. Mainly I just hope they implement this to the best of their ability and don’t get greedy. It is a dangerous undertaking, that’s for sure!
Another point to bring up is the possibility of legitimizing paid game-playing and Item-procuring services in general. Blizzard, for example, is doing it right in my opinion (we hope). Blizzard as a company is not offering (apart from vanity items) to sell items or currency on its own, which I think is a smart move (also, no paid leveling services or purchasable currency of course). Blizz is instead allowing players to potentially make a bit of cash off of their time spent gaming (Diablo III, for now) or allowing players to spend some cash on an item they desperately want and/or do not have the time, means or patience to acquire themselves.
This could be a great thing. It could also be a terrible thing. I have yet to completely form my opinion of it, and I think it will take seeing it in practice to determine my opinion of it in the end. I sincerely hope this works for the best! I could argue both the good and bad sides of this feature for any game, and I thought it would be interesting to take the favorable side of this debate to see what I could think of. Please trust that I could also give a list of reasons this is a bad idea, but I would rather spark conversation and debate instead! Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!
After writing this article, I skimmed diablofans.com and found their conclusion to be similar:
“Will this new cash AH force you to spend real money? No.
Is it certain to work/flop? No, neither is certain.”
Sources: (worth reading for more specific information)
Blizzard Entertainment: http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/events/diablo3-announcement/#auction:auction-summary