Experiment Failed: Diablo RMT and In-Game Auctions To Be Shut Down

The results are in folks and it seems that the Real Money auction house system in Diablo III will be going down early next year. In addition, they're also killing the in-game auction house. So not only did RMT fail in a Blizzard game, but I'm guessing it polluted the economy so badly that they have chosen to yank all auction systems from Diablo.

Diablo isn't really my area of expertise and beyond playing through the first quest line in the beta a couple of times I had no interest in the game. However, many of us in the WoW community felt that the RMT auction in Diablo was a test bed for the possibility of getting some form of RMT system in WoW. Clearly this development does not bode well for WoW gaining any sort of comparable system. (Which is a shame because I'm currently sitting on 1.5 million gold --- just KIDDING!)

Honestly I never expected Blizzard to implement any serious form of RMT in WoW. If nothing else, the tax implications of such a system would be horrific. I know I have a deadly fear of the IRS and I'm sure Blizzard's accounting peeps have a healthy respect as well. Also, the idea that you could even remotely earn a living playing online games would open the floodgates for all sorts of cuckoos. Our social environment is polluted enough as it is without adding more fuel to the culture clash fire.

While it seems like an appealing idea for my WoW gold to be translated into real cash, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't sign on the for consequences that would go with it. It would bring hordes of non-gamers into our game lives and create a whole new level of angst. We thought the overfarming was bad in the early months of MoP and CRZ, that would be nothing compared to the massive farming that would come as a result of a real world "get rich quick" invasion.

What about you guys, what do you think of this development?

8 comments:

  1. As a MMO player who did not play D2, I really regret this decision. I enjoy the AH and also like to gear up toons and alts with less RNG. No trading would be inferior but OK (hearthstone?). But going to a system without an AH but where you can go to external sites, perhaps disreputable, and still arrange to trade gear, perhaps duped, seems like the worst of all.

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    IMO, things are not as quite as clear-cut.

    Disreputable people can already make a living selling WoW gold (and especially hacking accounts.) I am unclear how many more dishonest people would be attracted. It appears you or anyone could sell your 1.5m for $450-$800.

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    For 50 years the IRS has shut down battering loopholes. If I pay you to paint my fence, your income is taxable. If there is a bartering club where no cash changes hands and no cash value is established, it is just as taxable. If you can spend virtual currency to avoid giving Rift or Wildstar or Tera or EVE a $15 sub this month (or someday a WoW mount), just how legally different is that from selling the currency for RL$15?

    There was a Feb 2012 Forbes article about Frequent Flyer miles received as part of a promotion causing Citibank (but not Amex) to issue you a 1099. Presumably, this 1099 is issued even if you have not redeemed the miles. And I am sure the airline say there is no cash value for FF miles.

    IMO, if a Best Buy tech stole all my WoW gold while the computer was being repaired, I am sure I could come up with a dollar value for them to reimburse me.

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    For several years, Blizzard allowed you to buy TCG cards from eBay and sell them for gold. They also came up with the pet you could buy for RL$ and sell for gold. So Blizzard has RMT in WoW but unlike D3 1.0 it was only one-way.

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    As the saying goes, you can't fundamentally change a game after it launches. So while newer games will have at least PLEX/REX/Chronscrolls/CREDD, WoW will probably just continue on, at least while it has a sub.

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    1. I had no doubt that some of you would disagree with my take on this and I look forward to hearing all the arguments in favor of RMT :)

      I think the fact that the IRS is already looking for ways to nose into non-cash transactions is exactly why companies like Blizzard would want to avoid the appearance of allowing transactions that seem to encourage the exchange of goods with tangible value. At some point there will be no way to avoid the collision between virtual transactions and real ones as the online and offline world continues to blur those lines, but I certainly wouldn't want to be one of the pioneering corporations and I can't fault Blizzard if they prefer not to be one either.

      I think with the guardian cub they baked in just enough of an exchange mechanism to satisfy honest gamers looking for an option. I'm not convinced there's an economically healthy way to expand beyond that but more power to them if they find it.

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    2. Soe will sell you a krono for around $15 that is redeemable for one month play time. You can also sell your krono on the EQ2 auction house, usually around 750 platinum.

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    3. As someone who played both WOW and D3 and was exposed to the RMAH first hand, I have to say it was a terrible idea and completely destroyed my enjoyment of D3 (and I'm sure, many others as well).

      There will always be players seeking shortcuts by buying online items with real money. There are also players who prefer to farm their own gear.

      D3 AH failed because Bliz catered too much to the first group at the expense of the second. To encourage use of the AH, they tweaked drop rates so much so that the chances of players getting a drop that was an upgrade for their own toon was close to negligible. In effect this forced all players to participate in the AH, whether they liked it or not. You could gear up simply by playing the AH all day without bothering with the underlying game at all (but not vice versa). In WOW terms, this would be the equivalent of forcing all players to PVP for every single PVE gear upgrade they wanted.

      Needless to say, a lot of players did not want to play AH Tycoon and left the game.

      The saddest part is that the RMAH failed to even achieve its stated purpose, i.e. stop third party trading outside the game. A simple google search will show that there are many websites offering D3 gold and loot for real money, circumventing Blizzard's cut.

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    4. Anon here (finally figured out the comment system, ha!)

      As a further note, in D3 Bliz actually _increased_ the RNG with the expectation that everyone would be using the AH. So the player goals of the game shifted from the fun bits (blowing up mobs) to the grindy bits (checking the AH over and over). Further, because of gold inflation new players were effectively locked out of competing for the better items on AH.

      Compare it with the console port of D3 which did not have RMAH and there was a higher chance of getting good loot drops for yourself. The general consensus is that the console port is way more fun to play than the computer version.

      All in all, the D3 implementation of RMAH was a terrible idea that deserved to die.

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  2. The issue is a bit blurred. IMO, the two people above had a problem with the AH (many D2 players did.) But everyone talks about the RMAH.

    Objecting to "using an AH in the new version of a game that did not rely on the AH" is a valid opinion but is not that related to the "influence of RMT on games."

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  3. Arkadia Studios' Entropia Universe is based entirely on RMT and is completely "free to play". With no monthly subscription fee, you can probably guess how Arkadia Studios gets their income.

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  4. There is no 'blur'.

    You can have a in-game AH linked to RMT where you can purchase items with real cash (D3 style) or an in-game AH where you can purchase items only with in-game cash (WOW style).

    'Everyone talks about RMAH' because the D3 AH is a Real Money AH.

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