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I See Gold Everywhere

I don’t know if people have seen the news (it’s already everywhere on the web, like here). Blizzard and Activision decided to let people use real world money to trade in-games items in-game through an auction house. Of course Blizzard will take a fee on each transaction, and if the item sells (flat fee for each) will probably charge to get your money back into the real world later.  According to them, this is something players asked for.

ORLY? Where, when, how?

The only thing I see everywhere on the Internet is that people hate RMT (real money trading) and that “goldsellers” and eBay item sellers are considered “evil,” unfair, and annoying in all online games, because it turn games into “cash=win” and not “skills=win.” Of course, if they lock down the game (cloud save* only, no mods) and the only way to trade with another player is through that in-game auction house, and if the RWM auction house gets the best items (which will happen because of greedy people), Blizzard just found a new way to make themselves and goldsellers really rich. I guess they smell the impending end of World of Warcraft and they need something fresh to generate the cash flow their shareholders desire.

So who asked for this according to them? The lazy players. Indeed, they created that auction house for people who don’t have the time to “grind” to find a good item while playing Diablo III. A game with a single player campaign (you need a Internet connection always on to play, though). The direct quote is this: “There are some people out there who don’t have the ability to put a time investment into the game, so they do want to use real-world money to kind of advance their character.” So these people wanted a secure way to buy nice items for their characters so they can advance them without playing. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of playing a game? I mean, I don’t buy games at $60 each to then spend more money to advance my character in them. I’m quite capable of doing this myself; it doesn’t matter if it takes six months and not three days because I have a 40 hour a week job. Especially, when the game is single player with a chat room.

I actually think that the true idea being this is stopping third party RMTs and taking a cut of the profit for themselves. Blizzard, unlike a few other companies, never tried very hard to stop RMT in all of their games. Now they created their own system of RMT to control the market. Activision has moved one step forward to turn video games into the cellphone and cable TV model. One day, we will be paying for keeping saves on a server somewhere for single player only games that last no more than six hours.

Also, while one side of me is outraged by this idea, another side is quite intrigued as well. It’s supposed to be locked by region, but everybody knows that’s not going to happen. At worst, it’s going to cause more crying, because player X can’t trade his item with his buddy player Y who lives in another region. But everybody already knows that goldsellers won’t be impacted by this. Also, if the idea falls flat on its face, does it mean that Blizzard/Activision will be in trouble? Somebody can hope. One thing is sure, lots of companies will emulate this if it succeeds…

Hopefully independent developers will save us all…

*Cloud save: This is the name given to the feature where SP or multiplayer saved game are saved on a server and can’t be tampered with by the players outside of playing the game. Lose your connection and you pretty much lose your last few minutes/hours of gameplay…

6 replies on “I See Gold Everywhere”

Interesting article. My boys play World of Warcraft and one of them has been begging to buy gold recently. We have consistently told him no, “spend your time playing the game instead of begging us to buy gold.” I also play once in a while just so that I “get it” when the boys talk about it. The most advanced character I have is a level 50 warrior.

I must say, I hate the idea of people paying their way through a game. That’s not the point of a game. And it teaches kids who are playing the game that if you pay you win. That sucks.

I have the belief that if somebody want to buy “gold” to advance in a game, it’s because he/she doesn’t really like said game. They just want to keep up with the “gang” or whatever.

Or maybe the concept of game have been lost and now they are just like rent-o-fun.

Thank you for this article. I’ve been chatting with my husband about this change. We detest the RWT/RWM model, though we could stand to make a tidy profit because we do, you know, like to play the games we buy.

This whole system of micropayments defeats the purpose of the subscription model, imo. And god knows if you get rid of the subscription fee, then games turn to pimping their micropayment store at every opportunity, until like DDO, you can’t even unlock critical content without paying for it.

Ugh. Not pleased. Not pleased at all.

The upside is that those of us who play games are a chatty bunch. If we don’t like it, I’m certain we can force the market to see things our way.

Strangely, DDO is very well “priced”. Last year, I calculated that buying everything in the store (content wise, not the consumable) came up at about 2 years of subscription fee. You can still take the sub if you want too.

As for being vocal about it. DDO and LoTRO success with the “à la carte” model suggest that people actually like it. And I have seen lots of people happy with Diablo III new feature, probably because they used the 3rd parties websites a lot for Diablo II and always feared getting scammed/hacked…

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