Class warfare is not for politics alone. Many of the Asian MMO’s that have a paid item system have people who spend a lot of real life money to become powerful. In MMO’s the “eBay” character is a term meaning you paid for your character and do not know how to play it. ~J.A. Laraque
The Effect of Diablo 3: Real Money Auction House
When I first heard about the real money action house I just laughed, but then I had to pause for a moment. I remembered back in the early days of Everquest people could sell not only their high-level characters, but gear as well for a lot of money. I knew someone personally who sold their character and was able to take a vacation with the money he made.
I thought back to some of the feelings over selling a character or loot. One person felt in an MMO your character is your identity, so, you should not sell it. This of course was when that statement was relatively true. Another person felt that selling in game loot for real cash would cause more loot stealing and hording, which I personally did not see happen.
However, now we have Diablo 3, which is not an MMO, at least not in the traditional sense. You can already twink your character using in-game gold and the gold based auction house, so , the question would be, what effects would real money have on the game?
Less Help from Max level characters
For most gamers you can get through the normal and nightmare difficulties pretty easily. However, once you reach the Hell levels you will need some help. Now you can always pug and since loot is your own, you do not have to worry about loot stealing. However, you do have to worry about finding competent players. What about all your level 60 friends?
The problem I see with the money auction house is people get the fever as soon as they make even a few bucks off the game and so they want to keep working on the inferno level at all times. Obviously, the game is based on progression and nobody wants to go backwards. In this case, helping a friend can cost you money because you could be getting loot or reaching a higher act, which leads to more loot.
Blueprint for a Free-to-Play Model
Consider this. We know that MMO’s are in a transitional period. Even if we are to be blamed for some of the downfalls of MMO’s it is clear that the monthly payment model is on the way out. We have already seen the nickel and diming of MMO’s, but for the most part fans do not seem to have an issue with that. With the downfall of games like Star Wars and DC Online Universe the writing is on the wall. So what can be done.
With the fees gained from these transactions, you can begin to recoup the money you would lose from subscriptions. Couple that with a store that allows you to buy items like mounts and pets and expansions and soon you might find yourself spending more than you would just paying a monthly subscription. Companies can release games, charge you a one-time fee and make money off micro-transactions.
On one hand, lower level items will become cheaper on the gold auction house since there is no benefit to having a low level twink. The goal is to get to 60 and farm inferno for loot to sell for real money. This can have a number of effects on gold and items.
One effect is any item that is high level and not sold for real money will cost so much gold almost no one can afford it. This could kill the gold selling market for Diablo 3, which is a good thing or it could increase it as people do the ratio to see if buying 2 million gold for a bow is cheaper than paying 100 real dollars for it.
In time as more people list items on the money auction house things will settle down and many might end up moving their real money item back to gold just to sell it. I have to wonder if a gold to money transfer program is not in the works.
Buying your way to Victory
Class warfare is not for politics alone. Many of the Asian MMO’s that have a paid item system have people who spend a lot of real life money to become powerful. In MMO’s the “eBay” character is a term meaning you paid for your character and do not know how to play it.
In many games, the trend is to allow people to purchase items using real or in-game money but not letting it give them too much of an advantage. Currently, in Diablo 3, it does not really matter if someone pays thousands of dollars to become powerful enough to beat inferno, but in time and if the model continues you could see people beating you not on skill, but based on how much money they have to spend.
Full disclosure, I sold my first little item on Diablo 3 and made about 4 bucks after Blizzard and PayPal took their cut, but it did feel good to make something off this game. When you think about the fact that you waited so long to play this game, then you paid sixty or more for it, the idea of making back your investment is appetizing to say the least. The real money auction house can extend the game. However, I think Blizzard needs to invest in itself and add more dungeons and things to do besides farming for sellable loot.
In the end, this will be more of a positive than a negative for Diablo 3 and Blizzard. Though many might complain about spending real money it has been done in MMO’s since Everquest and has no signs of changing. Either you join in or stay away, either way, the game, just like life keeps moving on without you.