The Weekly Roundtable series features the GamerWok staff having a candid discussion on a specific topic of the week. Feel free to jump into the conversation in the comments below!
Blizzard has announced (and released to Beta) the new Diablo 3 auction house. This new auction house will allow players to use real-life money for the purchase of the auctions. There are also plans to allow users to withdraw the proceeds of such auctions as real-life money. What are you thoughts on the use of real money for virtual auctions and how is that, if at all, different than purchasing upgrades in other games?
Justin: Now, I have limited knowledge of in-game auction houses, having never had much experience with that kind of system. But from what I gather, people can now buy resources, weapons, armor etc. and pay via real money. The people that are selling these things can then turn a profit as they aren’t spending anything (except time) collecting/making what they sell.
If people want to take a short cut and pay for an awesome upgraded sword then that’s their choice, but personally I think it would dull the experience of putting the time and effort into it yourself. Then you run into the issue of people succeeding because they can throw money at their game and not because they are any more skilled or knowledgeable. It may or may not end up that way, but that’s how I see it right now.
I do plan on getting Diablo 3, but I don’t think I’ll be purchasing anything auction-wise with real money. I got too many real world things to worry about for that.
Amos: I think it’s fair to say I’m the only one to have ever purchased Gold for a game (World of Warcraft). This was done once, and cost me $15 for 100 Gold pieces. I did this mainly because it made grinding unnecessary, which in my opinion, doesn’t add anything but frustration to gameplay.
I have never seen purchasing in-game upgrades as cheating. It’s not a cheat code or god-mode but it’s great for people without the time to grind hours upon hours for that brilliant piece of gear. Having heard Blizzard offering a real-money auction house, I was excited. In Diablo 2, I had to rely on message boards to arrange for trades or purchases of items. Now, if I find that unique wand for a Mage but I’m a Barbarian, I can simply list it on the auction house, and be it that I get a great maul for trade or an offer of real money, it won’t matter because both those options are great and I’ll make use of either transaction.
I feel that Blizzard is doing a good thing by keeping it in-house and part of the game. There’s much less of a chance that the player will get swindled by a bad transaction or a bad trade.
Jeff: I’m not a fan of micro transactions in games where it gives others an advantage when playing against others but after reading Amos’ reply I actually kind of like the idea more.
People are always going to be gold farming and grinding to make money. The idea that those people who don’t have time to grind are able to spend a little money to buy things is fine. Now they won’t get ripped off and hopefully the prices won’t get totally inflated. I’ll never be someone who works hard and sells a lot of things for money but I like the idea that Amos said, if I get something I can’t use then I can sell it and I get rewarded for my work.
I had to include this: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/02/16
I think it’s a good idea. Take the business from the shady outside into the bright sunny landscape of Diablo 3. :)
Adrian: Looking at it from my previous experiences playing World of Warcraft, I quite like the idea of using real money to translate over into the game. Even though I’ve technically stopped playing the game, there was countless hours spent earning gold. If I could go back and use actual money for gold, I would have.
I also think it is pretty cool how Blizzard is talking about withdrawing to real world money from what you sell in the game. Basically, it seems like Blizzard has launched a financial ecosystem.
Ben: Looks like Blizzard caved to the scenario where if you can’t beat them, join them but making the system even better! The question is, how much of a cut will Blizzard get for every item you sell?
Personally, I have no issues with pimping out your character if you have the disposable income to do so. It’s really no different than getting a MRI from a private health clinic if you want to skip the long queue at public hospitals. I’m just hoping it won’t get to a point where if you want the best weapon or armor, the only to obtain said items is by purchasing them. The best weapons and armor should always be available by taking the time to grind.
As Amos can attest to, I spent ALOT of time playing World of WarCraft and while my character may not have had the best of the best, I was proud to earn my items through patience and hard work. It also provided an opportunity to learn my character especially in PvP situations. Slapping on a bunch of high-end armor and weapons doesn’t mean you can go out and conquer the virtual world. In fact, I would say it would be downright embarrassing if you get your butt handed to you by someone else wearing much simpler items.
I don’t plan on using real-life currency in Diablo 3 but I don’t nearly have the free time as I used to so it’s a nice option to have just in case.
Amos: I think there will always be the players that will “cheat”, whether it is with codes, trainers, or buying their gear. But those players as Ben and Justin have pointed out will quickly lose interest in the game. Because without a challenge, games just aren’t fun and I think we can all agree on that.
But I think for those of us that don’t like to grind for their items or would like a nice way to recuperate some of the gaming cost with the loot we do find (because that’s the nature of Diablo) then I think Blizzard is doing us a huge favor buy rolling in real currency.
Personally, I’m not really going to be looking at selling loot in Diablo 3 as a part-time job, I simply don’t have the sort of time. But if I’m missing that one piece to complete my unique set and I have the option of doing 4-5 more Hell runs or paying someone $5 for it, you’d bet your ass I’ll pay every time!