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Arttemis avatar 5:39 PM on 08.02.2011  (server time)
Diablo III: What the Auction House REALLY Means.

Note: Wow, so it's been two years since my last blog; figures it would take Diablo III to bring me back into writing. Hope you enjoy!

-Less than $5 for 6 characters worth of amazing gear

The Reality

Blizzard has consistently taken the stance of "if you're going to do it anyway, just go ahead and do it our way" by doing things like adding damage meters, loot tables, boss tactics, and most notably voice chat all built completely into World of Warcraft. Adding a monetary auction house option into Diablo III follows the exact same mentality, with a bit of "if you can't beat them, join them" thrown in.

This isn't a new concept whatsoever, guys. People have been using ebay and other sites to buy D2 items for a full decade now, and if it's any indication, people aren't willing to pay more than ten dollars for a full set of gear (except the slim few willing to pay premium for the very rare "perfect" items). I'm familiar with this because I've actually sold a few 7% small charms on ebay! Capitalism is in full effect here and customers are always going to buy only the cheapest listings first, keeping prices low. All of these items were farmed and subsequently sold by real people. Blizzard isn't starting a micro-transaction apocalypse here, nor are they artificially inflating or hindering the in-game economy because every item has to come from someone's effort; there aren't infinite listings of Breath of the Dying Colossus Blades for only the rich to buy. What's happening now is Blizzard is making outside vendors useless by giving players access to purchasable items without having to alt-tab and wait for mules - and now they get to net the auction fees associated with listing/winning transactions.

Even though none of this is new, I will acknowledge the fact that it's never been condoned, 100% reliable (are the ebay items even legit or duped, set to disappear after the next patch?), and definitely never this easily accessible. With that in mind, I was initially worried about what effect this would have upon the famous Diablo trading scene. Who would trade away the best gear when there is an easy way to make a dollar or two out of it?

-I have a feeling these prices are way far higher than they will be once the game's released

The Effect

Anyone familiar with the early Diablo II trading scene knows that the Stone of Jordan ring, or SOJ, was clearly the most common form of currency in the game economy. Items were all compared by their corresponding value of "how many SOJs" they could bring in. Even though D2 moved on to a more traditional bartering system, that kind of economy is probably what you'll see in Diablo III. From the looks of things, in-game gold will finally have a real value in the community, and can be used to purchase what you want. With the auction house, Items will have a quantitative value set by the community, so that everything you want can be obtainable through a standard currency. You will now be able to literally sell your items (for gold or dollars) to pay for what you want. This isn't a one-way street of having to buy items as your only option. I'll repeat that for those just skimming through:

You will now be able to literally sell your items to pay for what you want. This isn't a one-way street of having to buy items as your only option.

The biggest change that will occur, I think, is how the trade system will be impacted. I'm absolutely positive that trading games and channels will still exist; If you find gear and want to barter, I'm sure it won't be impossible. The thing is, though, there're can't be a very large amount of players willing to go through the hassle of haggling and bartering when you can simply throw your items up on the auction house for gold/cash.

That's a hardcore badass

In the end, just remember, this is only available for people who are building softcore characters. I know I'll be making a Magician for farming, and a Monk for kicking ass in PvP... but the real trading will be where all the badasses are: Hardcore, bitches! I'll be the bad motherfucker with the pile of bones next to my player banner.


Other Toughts

If you've ever played Diablo 2 online, you'd know that the only way you could access your character is by logging into Battle.Net. Even if you wanted to play your character solo 11 years ago, you still had to have access to the internet. It is pretty stupid that there is no option for a LAN or real singleplayer, though.

I'm still bummed that it's 4-players max. You can't even make a game with each class, and that's just dumb. /sadface

The level cap doesn't really mean much to me, but I'm glad I don't have to focus on advancing skill progression for every single level. I'll make a build, finish inputting my skills, then tweak their abilities for the remaining 30 levels of the game while getting gear. I also appreciate that every skill has a useful purpose. D2 used most skills for synergies, which was clever, but it's nice to actually sink points into several skills knowing I'll be using them all.

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