Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Making money from free Diablo 3

I was wondering whether Blizzard giving away Diablo 3 has other reasons besides propping up the subscription numbers of World of Warcraft. Diablo 3 is not exactly a MMORPG, but it isn't exactly a single-player RPG either. And that applies both for gameplay, and for the business model. It is possible for Blizzard to make money from a copy of Diablo 3 they gave away for free: If the player uses the real money auction house, Blizzards takes a cut of each transaction.

Whether that is a good deal for Blizzard depends on how much the real money auction house ends up being used. I experimented with the gold-only version in the Diablo 3 beta, and personally I am not a big fan. Not that it isn't working, but just the opposite: The auction house works far too well for equipping your character. Far better than the random loot drop system. Thus if you use the auction house, the chance of finding a random drop which is useful for you diminishes dramatically. And that makes the game considerably less fun. I even stopped crafting and sending items between characters through the common bank for that reason. At the heart of it, Diablo has always been a game about collecting loot. Replace that by something more efficient, and you get a less fun game.

So what do you think? Will you be buying items for real money on the Diablo 3 auction house?

No I wont use AH, for the same reason I dont use heirlooms in WoW while having Plagued Proto-Drake and some hi-end raiding achievements and being in realm top-5 PvE guild. I want my characters to progress by themselves (maybe using common bank for good rare items), and not by some awkward mechanics.
I think the other motivation is to maintain WoW numbers. You are locked in for a year. Most people probably would keep a subscription for a year, but this increases the chance of keeping people on the fence.

Although it does sound like the gold and or drops are tuned too high so you get this AH afect, does having a choice of better items mean you have to take advantage? You can either use the AH as the best way to gear up quick (if that's your goal) or decide to gear up using crafting and adventuring.

If gearing up to advance is a grind, stop by the AH. If you enjoy the challenge of gearing yourself up and having to play better to survive is fun, you can do that too.
@Communik: when does a feature become an akward mechanic? If heirlooms were part of vanilla WoW; would you then have used it (as if there was no time before heirlooms existed?) Or if you could earn heirlooms by a complex quest (like the early dungeon upgrade questline). You do mention that you would use a common bank for good rare items so why is heirlooms far fetched or akward? (Just curious)
You probably didn't find the loot you needed in D2 either, instead you find other great items and trade it with what you need.

I think my current D2 barbarian wears only one piece of armor that he actually found himself. Everything else? Traded.

So, that isn't really a new concept except that you aren't depended on the suboptimal chat, countless "Need x Offer y"-games or various forums any more
Blizzcon presented three things on blizzcon that actually put three question marks over my head.
Pandaria is one of them (either appealing to young people or a way to smoke out the non-casual), The modifications made to SC2 in HotS are the second (I really can't explain why they are essentially making a completely different game here, an SC3 that will divide the community) and the third on ei s Diablo3. But what puts me off is the complete lack of the Diablo in the Diablo. All three games are becoming completely generic and empty, Blizzard providing a platform full of rules and mechanics, but with lack meaning and genuity, unimmersive blobs of toilet paper.
And both the Arcade in SC2 and the MoneyAH are the same - a mechanic put in a game that will simply make people get immersed in purchasing and equipping and collecting rather then in actually playing the game.
Diablo had meaning, because you fought eveil with your friends. Broodwar had meaning, because it was the One game that everyone played. Single ruleset for the whole world.
That was what actually got people to play EVE, the 'One Universe', the fact that accomplishing soemthing in EVE makes you famous in all EVE instantly, as there is only one EVE.
This is a cool idealistic concpt that is not necessarily connected to a lot of income, so Blizzard finds other ways. And the AH is a good way to gain money for Blizzard, if it's actually a better way to equip yourself then looting. So they hit the jackpot with that idea, but the consequences are tragic, because other games will follow and our real lives will get more and more involved in games because of this.
The Real Money Auction House does not replace the old-style "kill mob, collect loot" gameplay. Because if you want to sell or buy something, someone has to farm the items.

If there was a real-money shop with every available item I would agree, but that's not the case.

There will be millions of players, so demand and offer will work pretty good.
Yeah definitely, I see the RMAH as a fun minigame within Diablo 3.

I plan to both buy and sell. I won't sub to WoW for a year though.
@Felsir: heirlooms deny me gear upgrades, so I would skip them even if they were not relatively new feature.
Common bank is limited to my own loot and experience, all my characters are equal for me, so running NM Meph with MF Sourceress for equipping rest of them is part of the game for me, especially on Hardcore.
Buying gear (not crafting reagents) feels awkward for me, and I even want simple "crafted by" label to show name of my character, or a name of my guild mate, not some random stranger.
Loque, if this AH will be anything like the market in EVE, and if it's true that getting the items in the store is the optimal way of getting them, then I see people simply trading items they found to make money and then purchasing the items they need with that money as a standard mechanic of getting the optimal items for your class/level.

No kids, we played WoW for a couple of years now and what've we learned? I think it was: 'The optimal way is the way of doing things in games.'

If Tobold is right and the store is designed to be the easiest way to get to optimal items, then it will be used to get them.

But then it all strongly depends on how prices play out in the first days.
Won't be buying, but if I get an absolutely ridonkulous drop I'll certainly try and sell it using my free listings for the week.
@Bezier: Nothing is being taken away from Diablo with the addition of the two auction houses. Trading was already a massive part of Diablo 2 and more than a few people were spending their time (and real money) on existing, third party websites that exist purely to facilitate item trading.

That Blizzard have chosen to bring that market in house to provide a safe haven from being out right ripped off is not likely to be damaging to the game.

The other thing is, as Tobold said, using the RMAH To hear yourself sucks fun out of the game. Most importantly, however, the only person you are affecting is yourself. I do not think the RMAH will really pick up until people reach the end of Hell difficulty and are gearing up for Inferno.

Facilitating something that already occurs is hardly a gamebreaking thing to do. I know I certainly will not have my fun diminished by it, simply because I wont be using it
I won't use it. In all the time I played Diablo2 (and I still whack it out sometimes) I haven't traded or bought a single item. Finding them myself is the only way to be truly sure they are legit imho. And in World of Warcraft every single one of my characters was self-found. Helping a character along with the help of my highlevel-characters always felt like cheating to me.

"Pandaria is one of them (either appealing to young people or a way to smoke out the non-casual)"
I suspect the truly hardcore won't care. They play the metagame anyways, character-skins and storyline is something they don't even notice. Its somewhat harsh on storyline-buffs and some of those often ignored middle-ground players who are neither very hardcore nor extremely casual. But lets be honest: WoW is already filled to the brim with utterly ridiculous stuff. The background-story is retconned and easteregg-filled enough to be way beyond saving so another mindlessly stupid bit won't do anything that hasn't happened before.

"Broodwar had meaning, because it was the One game that everyone played. Single ruleset for the whole world."
I don't think thats true. There were people playing classic games, people playing 10-min-no-rush, people playing only on much-money-maps plus all the variations you get when permutating all those aspects. Blizzard didn't acknowledge or support most of those playmodes, but many of them were still very popular with their own leagues and people specializing in it.
I'm totally with Tobold. I am sure I'll play Diablo 3, and I will not use the auction house at all until, perhaps, I am very high level.

Starting out with junk and having to upgrade piece by piece based on random drops is a huge part of the fun for me.

@Bezier - I think it's a little over the top to call HotS a completely different game that will divide the community. Adding a few new units will allow for some new strategies but the basic mechanics and skills will be there. I also don't see the AH, real money or otherwise, making a big difference in Diablo 3.

Some people have plenty of money but not much time, and they may prefer to buy items for real money so that they can "win the game" in a timely fashion. For me winning is a minor side goal so I will play Diablo for the same reason and in the same way I always have - kill things and take their stuff. It's just a more accessible and prettier looking roguelike to me.
@ Bezier

There wont be any "store" in Diablo III. People will need to kill mobs/bosses like in D1 and D2. The best stuff will be dropped and looted, THEN (if you want) sold on the auction house.

The RMAH allows players to sell unwanted items for real money. That's all. But you are still required to "find" the items.

If you gave a lot of (real life) money, you will be able to purchase items from the RMAH. But -again- those items are drops. So someone had to find them first.

I'm not that interested in making money with D3, but if lady luck kisses me and I find something that goes for a good cash I will sell it for sure.
Personally I probably won’t sell any items on the D3 AH as long as my friends are still playing. My friends and I plan to help one another out with items as we level, just like w did in D2. As for if I spend money in D3 I probably will. I spent money on LoL so I don’t see it as a jump for me to buy some items in D3 if they are at what I consider a reasonable price. That being said I don’t want to buy a bunch of items because I know, like in D1, once you have the best gear there is little point to play Diablo.

I was wondering if anyone knew what money transfer system Blizzard planned on using? Will they be creating their own system through or will we use PayPal?
I doubt I'll buy items for real money but I'll certainly SELL if I can find anything worth selling. I'm pretty sure I'll buy stuff from the gold AH if I can afford it.
I have a lot more money than time, but I will play the D3 RMAH with the goal of making money, because I find it fun. I hit the original gold cap in WoW, but that's useless currency as compared to the RMAH. I'll probably even consider money I make on RMAH as a "special fun fund" from which I'll treat myself to ice cream cones.

I'll also use the RMAH to buy stuff for my characters, but my goal is to make more than I spend.
Wow. Tobold this is a great point about the AH in D3 that I hadn't thought about.

While it is true that every item has to be looted by someone, the point still stands:

At any specific moment in time, it will likely be easier and more efficient to find the ideal piece of gear on the AH than to hope you randomly get it as a drop.

Most of the time in Diablo you aren't playing with "best in slot" items. You find tons of "best in slot" items for other classes at other level ranges, but finding your own "best in slot" items is unlikely or very rare.

The AH gives you the ability to have "best in slot" or near "best in slot" items whenever you want. Then you turn right around and sell the things you don't need that will become someone else's "best in slot" item.


Along with the fact that this AH will be a huge drag on sharing, gifting, etc., I just shudder at the thought of it.

Thank goodness I already decided not to buy D3 because of its lack of LAN play. This is sad since D2 is my favorite computer game of all time.

-Michael Hartman
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