So, in the above video it’s revealed that there will be an auction house in Diablo 3 (ostensibly similar to that found in World of Warcraft and innumerable other MMORPG’s). This in and of itself is not major news – although it does come as a relief to long time Diablo players like myself who have wasted hours upon hours replaying the same set of dungeons waiting for that rare piece of armour to drop.
What is slightly bigger news is that it will include purchase made with real-word currency. This worries me. One of the things that bugs me about “freemium” games is that fact that regardless of how well I play, there’ll always be some noob whose character pwns mine because he’s spent a small fortune of real world money on pimping it out. This to me defeats the object of the game – I mean where’s the fun in levelling up and building your arsenal from scratch if you can just hop into the auction house (or equivalent) and buy all the best gear? In doing so, you’ve just removed possibly the largest element of gameplay from the game. So when looking at top-tier characters it’s no longer a matter of the best players being up there, or those that have devoted the most time to building their character – it’s just a matter of those who have spent the most, and that robs a game of it’s appeal to me.
Purchasing in-game items for real world money is also something that Blizzard have combated in previous games. In fact, I believe they suspend your account if you’re caught doing it in World of Warcraft. I shouldn’t be surprised that they now seem to be taking it on – tentatively at least – since it’s going to happen in some way thanks to those unscrupulous people that seek to make money from other peoples addictions (to WoW), and according to the FAQ on their site it seems as though the player selling the item gets the cash, not Blizzard, which is a good thing, but still, I think this is a bad idea that will polarise the players into two groups; those that can afford to shop in the auction house (for real cash. And let’s face it, if you can sell a sword for in-game gold or real cash, who’s going to choose the gold?) and will be pimped out, and those that can’t who will always be fighting a losing battle.
Perhaps I’m being alarmist because my laptop feels so hot it’s likely to immolate my jeans, maybe it’ll all work out just fine and the two systems will exist parallel with no ill effects. But I doubt it.