If you can’t beat them, join them.

10 11 2011

Old news to likely everybody but me, but Blizzard (in this and other articles) has made three things clear about Diablo 3:

  • Mods will not be allowed.
  • Their auction house will facilitate the use of real world money in the purchase of in-game items and gold.
  • Online play will be required (at least for the real-cash AH to be usable).

That’s right. Now, I can spend my day just farming gold, if I wish, and I can put it on the AH and undercut the gold farmers. Me and everybody else. Blizzard will of course (like any for-profit auction house) charge a “nominal listing fee” for anything you put up. If it doesn’t sell, well hey: your money is gone. If it does, maybe you turned a profit. Either way, Blizzard turned a profit.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make an assertion: they’re taking the fight to the gold farmers. After years of trying to litigate against them on eBay and their own rag-tag, backwater gold selling sites, Blizzard is instead giving them a formalized platform on which to peddle their trade. It’s smart; sort of what the RIAA should be considering (making it easy to get music clean and fast via services like iTunes instead of flailing about suing college students). But will it work?

Part of this, I feel, very much depends upon the cost of the listing. If it’s in the order of $1, your average Joe risks quite a bit posting anything for sale (relatively speaking). If it’s something that seems trivial (but would add up) like 1% (clearly I’m just making up numbers here, but go with me) then people probably wouldn’t think anything of it. The real catch here is whether the gold farming businesses will determine it’s potentially more lucrative to continue running their clandestine sites as opposed to operating completely within the game.

If they decide to operate in the game alone, that will (hopefully) put an end to annoying gold-ad whispers and the like, since any one of us can hop on the AH and run a search for in-game-gold whenever we like. This may be wish-listing; frankly I suspect ad whispers will still be a part of the game. Indeed, just because Blizzard is giving them an effective advertising mode (the search) doesn’t mean they’ll deprive themselves of others.

As for the banning of mods, I have only this to say: it’s about freakin’ time. I’m sorry, but while mods were useful in certain applications in World of Warcraft, they were by and large abused in ways that were socially destructive: judging people based upon imagined statistics (“gear score”) and painfully mis-measured statistics (damage meters) instead of judging them on skill (hard to do without risking a few nights of play time on them, I’ll grant you) or “how nice they are” caused massive shifts throughout WoW’s social-sphere and – arguably – caused Blizzard to completely re-tune their entire combat system over a half-dozen times. Diablo 3 doesn’t need this. Future MMOs certainly don’t either. Give us a reasonable method of moving our UIs around and otherwise shut the rest of that crap out. (Sorry, I digress.)

Diablo 3 is (so far as I know) still on the “buy a license, play on Battle.net for free” model (as its predecessors were), so the real-cash-money AH is a smart way to financially sustain it; for that alone, I support it. The fact that it will likely smack “professional gold farming services” around with an insurmountable glut of competition from us normal folk is a delicious bonus for our gaming experience.

And as for having to play the game online all the time…that really won’t be any different for me than before. I exclusively played D1 and D2 on B.net…even when playing by myself, I’d create a private, single player game. You know, one with a password that all my friends knew so they could jump in at their leisure? Didn’t you?

Hopefully the game is as awesome as it seems. It’s certainly looking like it may be.




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