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Blizzard Grabs for Cash

General Article By William Murphy on August 06, 2011

Blizzard Grabs for Cash

But they’re also allowing us a shot at some.

As we reported and pontificated on already, Blizzard announced this week that Diablo 3 will launch with a real-money auction house where players can hawk their goods for real world money. Let’s put aside the fact that the game will also force users to be connected to Battle.net to play (even solo), and instead focus on the very big story that Diablo 3 will allow item-farmers to sell their rares and valuables for cold hard cash. In the words of Ron Burgundy, it’s “kind of a big deal.”
 

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And no, Diablo 3 isn’t an MMO, but the repercussions of Blizzard putting something like this into their game can send shockwaves through the entire industry depending on how it’s received by players. When they were about to make RealID a mandatory unveiling of your real name, the players spoke loudly, clearly, and in a unified voice that this was “no bueno”. Perhaps not quickly enough, Blizzard listened and changed their tune. Will the same thing happen with this real-money AH? I’m not so sure.

The development giant claims that the move is a way to curb farmers from selling the items on a videogame “black market”, but really given the terms of how the auctions work, it comes off more as a way for Blizzard to make a buck off the real money transactions that used to never be officially sanctioned. It really seems like a way for them to cover the costs of the game being free to play online, while taking advantage of the inhuman urge we’ll all likely have to both post our items for sale and shell out a few bucks for the Massive Mace of Blood Squirts (+1).

The only real saving grace, and the only reason I’m still willing to buy the game, is that even I will probably make a few bucks off of selling items on this system. Of course, the way that Blizzard is charging you for even putting items up for sale, you’ll have to be choosey about what you post, because if it doesn’t sell you just spent money for nothing. It’s almost a way of self-policing the auctions, and making sure the thing is flooded with tons of useless crap.

In any case, I’m curious to see how long it will take Blizzard to comment on this controversial story. I’m also curious to see if they’ll at least back down from the “No Offline Play” part, that’s getting overshadowed. But more than anything, I’m curious to see how well this feature is implemented and how much it’s going to be used. If it’s a rousing success after all the grumble-grumble… we could be witnessing a tidal shift in the way online item sales work.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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