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Aug 01, 2011



The article and blizz release both say it supports both gold and cash.


Wow. This is really exciting. They're allowing players to sell (virtual) gold for real-world currency, and allowing the market to determine the value.

Couldn't someone potentially be a Diablo 3 item hunter as a profession?

The possibility of finding a $50/$100/$500 item will make this game even more addictive. It's sort of like a lesser form of gambling; spending your time for a chance at cash prizes.

Plus, it will be so much more satisfying than pulling a slot machine lever.


that is a really interesting comparison of gambling and this game. The odds of "winning" will be in the favor of game players, because battle.net, should stay free.


That's one of the surprising things - dual currencies keep those
comparisons at bay. With dual currencies, you can say "hey, it's all
play money." With this move, game content looks more like real
stuff. There are implications.


what implications?


This article on Eve Online covers some of the implications that follow virtual money becoming real money:

In particular I would draw your attention to the part where the author discusses the games developer becoming effectively a bank.

Under Blizzard's proposed system a player would send them real money, that they would keep in escrow in an account assigned to the player until s/he found items that s/he wished to purchase whereupon they would transfer money from his/her account to the seller.

If it's a real account with real money in that rather sounds like a bank, doesn't it? Sure it's a bank with rather unusual restrictions but I can put money in, take money out and authorise payments to third parties.

There's also the gambling issue. If I do a Pindleskin run knowing I will probably get nothing but I have a 1 in a million chance of a Windforce worth $2000 then isn't that essentially just a reskinned online fruit machine? Do gambling laws apply?

I think that Blizzard is trying to push back the legal restrictions on what is acceptable. This may result in no one really complaining in which case practices considered somewhat shocking now will become commonplace and can later be defended on the grounds that they are usual practice. They may be bitterly contested by lobby groups or class actions in which case Blizzard is likely to throw an army of lawyers into the arena (and they'll be able to afford to from their cut of all the transactions). Blizzard may lose in court in which case they may try to lobby the legislature for law reform.

It's even possible that Blizzard may establish this as normal practice by buying off court actions by settling them. If what they are doing is enforcably wrong but no cases ever get to court because they always settle then after a while what they are doing becomes standard industry practice, is adopted by their competitors and is suddenly much harder to root out.

It makes sense for games companies to take over the third party market. It wouldn't surprise me if more money has been made on World Of Warcraft by people who are not Blizzard than the company itself. It's worth a lot of money to take control of this business.


What Stabs said.


The issue of Blizzard being a bank pales in comparison to the privacy issues and government taxation involved. Blizzard will be required to keep information on all RL money purchases between players because at some point the potential profits from this venture by a "player" are going to draw IRS scrutiny and audits will ensue. What kind of new EULA is going to be involved here? Clearly Blizzard and everyone else wants to generate more revenues and profits ... the way this happens is going to set some interesting precedents. By taking farming for profits in video games out of the shadows the IRS will pay attention because the money is not insignificant ... Blizzard is setting themselves up to be the point of that focus since they will serve as a central market exchange much as Ebay does. In the past no company was directly mixed into the financial dealings of players between themselves when virtual currency and items were sold without a buffer --- Blizzard is removing that buffer and they will eventually be compelled into the same kinds of monitoring and documentation that Ebay has to do.


Only if you're fine with earning significantly less than US minimum wage per hour played. Remember that you'll be competing with thousands of Chinese farmers who will drive value down.


Blizzard would be no more a bank than PayPal.

Wait, is PayPal a bank?

This issue has been spoken of before when Mindark mentioned their idea for a Mindbank. An idea that is currently tabled.


What are the chances that making RMT legit in a top tier MMO would gain more profit than leaving it as a black market?

F2p games with cash shops attracts completely different type of gamers, while some others only find achievements meaningful when the game is p2p (and ideally free from bots, gold farmers, and RMT).

Knowing that RMT black market necessarily exists, p2p gamers seek for the utopia which end game is all about PvP or RvR that gears (thus RMT) do not provide absolute advantage.

D3's real money auction does not appeal to a certain type of players. From personal experience, server top players and guilds in big titles like Aion, Warhammer, Rift were mostly disgusted by RMT. Now imagine D3 as a new top tier MMO without those players, how much would that affect the demograph and community? and without those "elitist", would the RMT players still find possessing epic items as valuable?


IIRC, Paypal is officially a bank only in Europe, where they don't put up with the shady crap done by the American arm.


Isn't Sony already doing something like this with Everquest and Vanguard on the station exchange? They don't seem to be drawing much attention from regulators or gold farmers.


Yes, SOE now contracts out the real money exchange of virtual items gold and characters to a company called Live Gamer.

There's a reason this is below the radar. No one plays. Or almost no one.

In EQ2 this system is only active on 2 servers: the Bazaar and Vox. They are underpopulated servers. I sometimes think forum stats can give a useful metric - there are 65 topics in the Live Gamer subforum of the EQ2 boards (as opposed to 16,017 in General Discussion).

Shadowknight is probably the most popular class now so I checked Shadowknight auctions. Of 28 auctions only one has a bid on it.

Now under US tax law you're basic below the radar if you occasionally sell things as part of your hobby provided the intention is not to make money. Selling one or two EQ2 characters a year is clearly not someone's main business. In Diablo 3 we will see quite a few people making it their profession. So it's really a completely different situation and that's because people will be able to make a living at it. (I think. I could be wrong).


When this becomes a formal system does that make it easier to demonstrate a clear linkage to real world losses from a in game actions? Will real world law enforcement be more easily applied to virtual crime?

And will Blizzard be able to stave off what I think will be the downfall of most micro-transaction schemes? The obvious outcome that financial concerns will dictate game design and eventually result in games that are mostly unplayable.


Seems like an interesting idea that has both pros and cons. Just another reason for me to buy diablo 3, good article.


Definitively sounds like an engaging idea for Diablo 3, however I am concerned about potential farmers as well as account hacking and crime.

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