Blizzard has announced that they are going to try something a little different this time around. With the release of Diablo III, expected later this year or early next year, two types of auction house will be available: the traditional in-game AH using gold accumulated by playing the game, and an auction house that uses real-world currency, deposited through a player’s Battle.net account.
While the concept of paying money for items in game is not new to gaming, especially with the rise of the social games on Facebook and other “free-to-play” games that let you upgrade your character, up until now Blizzard has kept in-game items bought with real currency as simply decorative pieces that don’t actually affect game play or make improvements on the character. For instance, vanity pets like Lil’ Ragnoros or the Celestial Steed. Some of these pets have even been used to raise money for charities. But with the introduction of the real-money auction house, players will be able to equip their characters with top pieces of gear, which will improve their stats and gameplay.
Blizzard’s goal appears to be to “cut out the middle man” when it comes to the problem of gold-farming. In reality, though, it looks like they are attempting to cut themselves a lucrative piece of the pie, since they will be taking a cut of every transaction, in the form of a flat fee. And it won’t cut out the scammers. Someone will always figure out a way to game the system.
I like Blizzard. I like their games, I like their books, and I like their people. I don’t like this auction house. While it may seem rather harmless in Diablo III, since it’s not a multi-player game, I’m imagining it transferred to a game like WoW, where we play against other players. And I would be willing to bet my own real money that if it’s a success in Diablo, we will soon be seeing it in WoW, in a future patch or expansion. The precedent has been set.
As a gamer who doesn’t have a lot of dough to spend on my games, I don’t like a system that allows people to improve their characters simply by virtue of opening their wallets. I work hard to improve my character, by running heroics and raids and farming mats for craftable items. It’s unfair that someone with more money than me can walk up, pay a hundred bucks and essentially buy their way into my raid. Server firsts will go to the guilds with the most money to spend to buy the best gear.
Am I overreacting? Maybe. But I don’t think I am. I’ve seen how people act in game and the class systems that form. Why give them another way to judge? Some guilds and pug raids already want an equipment check. How long before they ask for a credit check? Okay, that might be overdoing it, but my point is that you never know, and people love to divide themselves into the haves and the have nots.
I’ll be keeping a close eye as the game gets closer, and I’m curious to see what happens. But to be honest? I’m kind of hoping it fails spectacularly.
Amelia Ramstead has been playing games since her family first received an Atari 2600, lo these many years ago. She continues to play, primarily on PC these days. An avid World of Warcraft player, Amelia writes about WoW topics for her blog and as a guest poster on WoW Insider. Especially interested in how gamer culture reflects in family dynamics, Amelia herself has two kids, one of whom has two WoW characters and can barely keep his nose out of his DS. Amelia is excited to join the staff of Comics Bulletin and is looking forward to the chance to converse with others on one of her favorite topics! Find Amelia on Steam as ameeramstead.