Diablo III Will Scare the Hell out of You

And not for the reasons you might expect.

It won't be the sight of a bloated corpse exploding into a cloud of snakes that frightens. It probably won't be the visage of a once proud king, now merely a vessel for an evil spirit. In fact, no specific paranormal or demonic resident of Diablo III's vast menagerie of hell's starting lineup need concern would-be demon hunters, monks, barbarians, wizards, or witch doctors.

To the contrary, it will be the clicking of mice in the Diablo III auction house that will raise the most eyebrows and drop mouths agape, in fear of not only what it means for the game itself, but also what the ramifications are for future Blizzard games and the industry at large.

While it's important to keep in mind that Diablo III and its auction house are still very much in beta, Blizzard has already made its intentions clear--it wants to create and control a safe space for equipment and gold transactions that originally occurred on auction sites outside of its domain. Also, every transaction that occurs for that new piece of armor or that enchanted sword lets Blizzard skim a set fee off the top.

It all seems very straightforward and harmless--an everyone-wins scenario. Some might even traverse Diablo's wistfully detailed lands without ever knowing of the auction house's existence, but here's the sinister short and simple of it, part one: Blizzard just boldly (and perhaps unintentionally) subverted the free-to-play model, and it has done so by retaining all of the characteristics of that ecosystem while simultaneously charging an admission fee of $60 to access them. If the idea of grinding for gear or gold doesn't sound that appealing, but spending real-world money for fake-world items does, then the auction house is the place to go, as long as you paid for the game like everyone else.

Granted, the foundation of this system sits firmly on the idea that this economy is adequately funded by its players and not Blizzard, which means that its success largely depends on player behavior and the audience's ability to keep the auction house stocked with items players actually want--the simple economics of supply and demand. If World of Warcraft's own auction house is any indication, that shouldn't ever be an issue, and if anything, positioning gold as an additional commodity to be sold all but ensures a steady inventory of frequent activity and a happy Blizzard.

And therein lies the foreboding part two: Gold farming (or item farming of any kind) by proxy is not only condoned but encouraged and incentivized through the use of real-world money. That alone is cause for trepidation since Battle.net will no doubt be flooded with games dedicated to solely accomplishing such dubious tasks, but the bigger concerns are gold inflation and equipment deflation--otherwise known as the whirlpool of contradictory economic sadness.

If acquiring wealth is as simple as paying real dollars for it, then what's preventing gold's purchasing power from dropping faster than it did in World of Warcraft? Likewise, there's no binding on equip in Diablo III at this time, which means any kind of item (aside from some generated by quests) can feasibly flood the market, making even the best gear worthless from a valuation standpoint. Members of the development team have stated that they believe the salvaging feature (using items to craft other items) combined with a strategy of consistently introducing new items will counteract the problem, but these both leave a massive lingering question: Is that enough to combat the problem?

The Diablo III auction house rabbit hole raises even more questions the deeper it goes, and while there's no way to accurately predict what will happen, this much is certain: Its success would have far-reaching implications on the gaming industry. For example, there's no reason a similar feature couldn't exist in any other game with a prominent multiplayer component, namely something like Battlefield or Modern Warfare, but even single-player games could integrate an auction house funded via other players playing the same game. Even Titan, Blizzard's massively multiplayer online successor to World of Warcraft, can theoretically toss the shackles of a subscription fee and its associated problems--one of which is motivating the user base to subscribe to more than one MMO--in favor of a strictly real-world currency auction house, provided the economy can sustain itself and generate enough income for Blizzard.

In its current state, the auction house fulfills its purpose beautifully, enabling those with less spare time these days to create a respectably geared character without slaying so much as a single demon. That's an attractive proposition for many and will no doubt fuel much of the engine that drives this business model forward. Still, it's a little frightening that the seedier side of the gaming industry now has an official place to conduct its boomtown operations, but perhaps even more worrisome is Blizzard's amalgamation of the free-to-play and traditional retail model--the best of both worlds for those whose eyes are planted firmly on the bottom line.

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Discussion

360 comments
Absalomx
Absalomx

This game is pretty awful, and the servers seem to be pretty spotty, which means you can't log in to play your single player game.  Also, when you do finally get logged in, you will be waiting in a queue for anywhere from 0 seconds to 20 minutes.  The graphics are dated, the story is shallow, the world seems pretty small.  What the hell was Blizzard doing for 10+ years?  It looks like it was thrown together in a couple of years!

 

AJAM1
AJAM1

I hate blizzard and what gaming is turning into. Real money auction houses in single player games? GTFO! I'd stop playing video games all together

FMD129
FMD129

Really upset with blizzard. Its nice that the feature wont be in the hardcore mode, but just to think in general that in terms of video games as a whole this could have massive rammifications. I used to have respect for blizzard awhile ago during their almost 10 year absence of any starcraft/diablo game, but when starcraft came out and it was the same exact thing, and then on top of that they said in an article that they made it just for korean E gaming, I died a bit inside. Than them partnering with Activision? THAN this auction house thing? I have very little to no respect for them. Its not even so much that their games NEVER change (except for graphics and a few new features) but its more so their marketing strategies and buisiness model, they have turned into a greedy company that doesnt respect its players as much as it used to. Just my opinion on the matter.

icetone
icetone

@Rovelius HEY ATLEAST I HAVE A MOM!

saleama
saleama

@stips....You would think that they would tax the money when you receive it and keep a record of that income like...well, income. They would then simply have to send you a tax form at the end of the year. Wouldn't be very difficult at all.

burgar
burgar

a D3 demo isn't lunch?

Veronity
Veronity

D3 news are on my ignore list...

keatman
keatman

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thananrat
thananrat

Now! if , be possible , I will burn this game , all from this world , 555555555555555555

greek5
greek5

The next news i want to see is the release date, not all this crap

vampyren
vampyren

I pretty much dream everyday i wake up i hear news or a glimse of hope that D3 will be released soon. I love Diablo franchise and cant wait to get my hand on it. All classes seem very fun but i do miss a necromancer (witch doctor look fun but not the look and feel of a Necromancer i seek). Any way i think i will start by a Warrior or Monk on my first play through.

x2rufff4u
x2rufff4u

Guys on Wiki it says it will be released EARLY 2012!!!!!!! So if that's the case than it can't be past June!!!

XxNaruto77xX
XxNaruto77xX

this is just another excuse for Blizzard to make more money out from the Auction House, i don't see anything else that helps the players...

ragnar320
ragnar320

you know what i dont understand is that blizzard is making so much money on all its games that their profit margins must be like two to three hundred percent profit i dont understand why when making that much money they havent made something turly brilliant recently. I know they've said that they are making a new mmo but thats only cause there are so many new mmo's coming out and ppl are getting bored with wow but why havent they like just hired a huge staff and made some freaking epic games Starcraft 2 was cool and ive never played diablo but it looks interesting but come on three major game titles when ur making like 150 million bucks a mouth from subcrisptions. i dont get it they could create an entirely new genre of games if they wanted too. they could make the most epic game on the face of the planet but now all they care about is making money and being greedy. its cause of crap like this is why the US economy sucks right now

OverlordGunnar
OverlordGunnar

I just don't get the outrage; subscription fees are far more outrageous than an optional auction house feature. If there are people in this world who want to buy digital items, then there are people who will sell them, regardless of whether there is integrated auction functionality or not. Blizzard has basically embedded a big red button in their game that says 'click here to give us Money' and if you're stupid enough to click it, you deserve to lose your cash. There are plenty of tangible objects in the real world that you don’t want, so if you disagree with the concept of paying real world money for a digital sword, just treat it like a Justin Bieber CD and don’t buy it, problem solved.

Firefox3050
Firefox3050

There are many issues here. Most seem to have been addressed. To me, what is at issue is the core incentive Blizzard has to make a quality game. The business conditions and incentives of traditional gaming are to attract people to purchase a game for a one-time-fee. The quality of the core game is paramount. But, additional core game content is not incentivized. Quality expansion packs are needed for any long-term staying power Subscription games lesson the focus on the initial purchase and increase the focus on staying power. Continuous content releases and addictive elements are added and initial quality has less of a focus, while still important. Blizzard now has an incentive to move players to focus towards acquiring gold and items through the AH rather than in the game. Blizzard surely knows it will be tempted to increase the scarcity of gold and items enough to discourage normal players from gathering significant gold and finding rare items during gameplay and to encourage those same players to investigate the AH. Blizzard understands the danger of offending players by increasing the scarcity of gold and items too high. Blizzard will increase the scarcity of gold and items slowly, assess community feedback, and if the feedback indicates an acceptable risk to continue, Blizzard will continue to raise the scarcity factor for gold and items. This should be interesting...and frightening for those who love Diablo and quality games in general.

slackrabbit
slackrabbit

This is bad idea, as it is in fact BANKING by another name. Furthermore the currency is a DERIVATIVE, and is not subjected to any banking regulations.....what little ones there are. Who decides the value of the currency? How will they stop money laundering? This is what has landed Zinga in court....

mariocerame
mariocerame

I'm terrified of the tax implications. Before, the property was expressly all Blizzard's, and a black market accommodated exchanges outside of the visibility of the IRS. But now, with everything above board, I'm much more skeptical of the ability to dodge tax issues.

SERiEZ1
SERiEZ1

@constantin I agree, nothing has changed since D2. New animations and a transaction-fee auction house do not warrant a 8 year development cycle. Sorry, Blizzard... I'll stick with innovation. Have fun turning into Treyarch and taking forever to put out a game identical to your previous title. Also, I have to say I was seriously looking forward to this title but it seems they devs put the entire game in a 4"x4" box and thought that would be enough to contend nowadays. Graphics aren't everything but gameplay is. Stale much.

jalen_222
jalen_222

i don't mind anyone making money if im getting my money's worth. in Blizzard's case, their wealth has allowed them to make quality product.

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

"Whats makes me sad is that the normal player will avoid trading items like it would normally happen, even in D2, and will prefer to try to make real money with it." And your evidence is...?

jamiejacobs218
jamiejacobs218

Blizzard is doing what America should do with marijuana and prostitution laws. They are allowing it to happen to help generate revenue but only under the supervision of the company. Similar to prohibition era with alcohol.

stips
stips

Curious question pops up when reading about the real money ah. About 5 years back congress was presented with legislation that would tax players for ingame currency transactions and it didn't go through because literally the ingame money is just game money and it dosent exist. Whats to stop this legislation from surfacing again and how exactly will blizzard go about keeping it legal? paying the taxes from their profits? Will players be responsible for filing claims for real money earned? This system introduces a whole can of worms to gaming and I really don't see ANY of it being the 'good kind'.

Vlad_an_impaler
Vlad_an_impaler

AH should have never been implemented in the first place. IMHO.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

I just dont see the legitimacy of some of these arguments against the AH. There are really no downsides to it other then a lot of normal trading will go to the AH, but after long enough people will realize what is garbage and that stuff might go back to being traded. Its exactly what happened in diablo 2 but now has a central place with blizzard regulating it.

MegamanX2011
MegamanX2011

By legit player i mean the ones that use their skills to reach the top of any game, instead of a credit card.

MegamanX2011
MegamanX2011

Whats makes me sad is that the normal player will avoid trading items like it would normally happen, even in D2, and will prefer to try to make real money with it. It will become extremely hard to get those uniques in D3 for legit players unless they bot afk. If only the market could come with similar titles like this and torchlight for better competition like there is with FPS....

Priapus101
Priapus101

What's funny is that this market would exist regardless if Blizzard put RMAH in or not. Just go on and type "diablo 2 items" into google. When Torchlight 2 goes live, I guarantee that the same thing will occur. Only difference is Blizzard is taking advantage of it and earning some money from it instead of some shady website. However I am concerned that these "money making" schemes take priority over fixing Battlenet 0.2.

tx47e
tx47e

"Diablo III Will Scare the Hell out of You" OVERSTATEMENT , reason = rated +18

Drunken_kb24
Drunken_kb24

I mean, I understand people are mad, because after WOW's success, Blizzard's appitete for cash increased and this is obviously evident in the new Diablo 3 auction house. Blizzard, has always been my all time favorite game company and things like this do disappoint me a bit. However, I do understand that Blizzard, and all game companies dont produce games for the sheer entertainment of its fans... Blizzard was created for one dominating purpose, to make money. Now, I'm sure not everyone working under Blizzard is all about the green, but I'm pretty damn sure a majority of its investors are interested in nothing but that. I hate what they are doing and all that, but in the end it's a business, corporations are created to generate as much profits as possible. It's always good to listen to your fans and keep them pleased, but before anything its about the profits. I don't really blame blizzard for what's happening for all I know they could have their hands tied and have no choice in the matter. I just hope this game turns out well, and the auction house doesn't ruin the game as much as people are saying it will.

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

Unbelievable....I mean take aside the frustration of players that actually bleed to acquire an item , and now this item will be available by a single click and a hefty amount of dollars for the willing-to-spend (whic btw are many), this is totally destroying the diversity of many aspects of the game...And not only that, it also creates the "danger'' that other companies might do the same thing...Blizzard is innovating the Game Industry once again but this time they are leading it to some of the Worst Case scenarios...I always respected Blizzard for they are centered in only 3 IPs so far making them blockbusters and amazingly full of beautiful content!But this act???It is the act of Greedy Leechers graving for more and more $$ when they are already making tons of cash...Unbelievable really..So disappointed on you Blizzard..Why so Greedy?

vishisluv7
vishisluv7

I'm not sure I follow, as I haven't paid much attention to D3's specifics. You can find an item, sell it on the AH for real money? So you get cash in a Paypal a/c? Forgive the noob question, but D3 isn't an MMO, why not just grind your own gear? Who is there to impress? For PvP, It sounds bad to me, because gear is everything, so Johnny can use his CC and be in all epics in a few minutes? What am I missing? What's the motivation to buy gear? Obvious why to sell it.

juliano001
juliano001

10M subscribers x 15 dollars per month = 150 Million dollars. Is this not enough Blizzard ? Other companies would die if his game sell that much. Per year a Billion and 800 million.

juliano001
juliano001

Truth is, after World of Warcraft, Blizzard is another company, very different from that company that we learned to love. Now all i see is a greedy whore. A shame what this company is doing with Diablo 3. It will be an online mmo in disguise. Damn shame.

kristinnhf
kristinnhf

I have to jump in here even tho I usually dont post here. Noone has actually realised yet that this AH will not be about gamers. Most of the money in the AH will be from stolen CCs and used to whitewash huge amounts of money. Its the ideal place for it cause players will be able to trade directly between accounts. This has been going on for long time on gambling site and is the main reason many of the big sites were closed for real money gambling last year in US. The serious part about this all ? 12 year old kids have access to the same account as these trades will be going through. Even tho its a diffrent game - its still Battlenet. Noone has actually realised the scale that we will see money be traded between accounts... that have NOTHING to do with Diablo 3. And thats exactly why this should never ever be allowed in ANY game EVER.

adidas32x
adidas32x

what's scary is how bad this will be

ragnar320
ragnar320

lol well one thing you can tell is who is more liberatian and who is more of a socialist or liberal. Liberatain think this is a good idea and the market will work it self out and the socialist/liberal who thinks that the lack of controll will cause this game to be ruined. I think itll ruin the game because ive been playin SWTOR since it came out and ive already been flooded with people asking to buy gold from them and its only been out 2 months and now blizzard is gonna okay this kind of attitude i think this might ruin MMOs if it becomes common pratice

commando1992
commando1992

Because Blizzard doesn't make enough money already?

Baraq
Baraq

Whats scary is how long its taken the game to come out...

Lach0121
Lach0121

For PvE, I see no problem with this, which is mostly what Diablo III is about. But for PVP, including COD and BF, this would severely imbalance the game. The Haves, would once again, have a significant advantage over the have-nots. Unless the PvP games were built from the ground up with the balancing as one of the main focus, when trying out something like this... In this case I would actually like to try it, I am not afraid of change or difference. But a severely unbalanced PvP is not a logical sacrifice, just to try to make money off of a different economical model for the game! Don't know if I like the ability to buy and sale gold though, but I will not get all bent out of shape yet over it.

shalconv
shalconv

The beauty of gaming is that everything you do is your own decision; there is no one to boss you around so if you feel like simply playing classic Diablo with no auction house, go ahead, who’s stopping you from doing it? I know that’s how I will play it because I won’t spend a single extra dollar on equipment, and because I play Diablo for the challenge, not to brag about my cool character with the super equipment. Now if you prefer to buy your way through Diablo, and have the money to do it, it’s great as well and I think Blizzard is brilliant for giving players that freedom.

paladin125
paladin125

There is nothing wrong with what they are doing - If you have a problem with the AH, don't use the AH. It simply offers other options for those looking for them. Gold may inflate rapidly at first but it should level off after some time when people really realize how much things are worth. Have faith in the free market!

constantin
constantin

I gotta ask: What's the appeal of Diablo III ? I was a die-hard fan of Diablo I and II; I lived and breathed it. But now, I just can't get passed the terrible graphics and mundane story. Please someone, am I just having some kind of mid-life gamer crisis or are you all drinking Blizzard's kool-aid ?

GothicFanatic
GothicFanatic

BRILLIANT! A REVOLUTION I look forward to! A perfect combination of fantasy and real world! Instead of painful grinding and farmin' for virtual money that is only good in virtual world u should spend more time "grinding" and "farmin" for money that is good in both virtual and real world! It's a double advantage! Y u bi*ches complainin than???? It's fukkin' brilliant! When i come home form job, i wanna have some action in pvp, not havin' to do a bunch of in-game chores just so i could later have my desired expiriance in pvp! GO BLIZZ!!!!

mrtypr
mrtypr

Make a Male Barbarian plzzz :)

AshTray1986
AshTray1986

nice work blizzard, next ill be charged for turning on my computer