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 Diablo III 's real money Auction House was driven by design team, says director
Diablo III's real money Auction House was driven by design team, says director Exclusive
May 15, 2012 | By Staff

Alongside today's launch of Diablo III, Blizzard has introduced the series' first ever official Auction House, where players can buy or sell items for real-world currency. With this new system, Blizzard will take a cut from each item sold, but despite the obvious financial gains, the game's director says the Auction House came from the game designers, not the business side.

"[The new Auction House] came from the design department," Diablo III director Jay Wilson tells Gamasutra in a feature interview, "Here's one of the things that I will say -- that no one in forums will believe me -- but we never make business decisions outside of the game development team. We always make them based on what we think is right for the game."

Wilson explains that designing a system that makes extra money isn't a problem if it provides a real value to the consumer. If the players are happy and Blizzard is making money, it just means the studio can keep making bigger games, he says.

"I don't think it's a bad thing to want to make money. I think it's a bad thing to want to make money off things that are not a good service or product for your customer, and that's our inherent belief, is that it's okay to make money on a service we provide for our customers that we think is a good service worth paying for." Wilson explains.

"Do we want to make money off it? Of course we do, because we want to continue to make games, and we want to be successful. But we also think it's a good service. We think it's a thing players want, and want to do, and they want to be able to do it securely and easily, and they want to be able to make some cash off of it if they want. They want to be able to recycle that back into getting more items."

The new Auction House made particular sense to the design team, Wilson adds, because Diablo II eventually developed its own consumer-run item economy, where players would buy and sell items through eBay or other third-party websites.

"The whole trade economy of Diablo II was a really interesting element of the game, but the game didn't support it hardly at all. And so we looked at that and said that's a real failing, and something we need to fix," says Wilson.

Thus, the team built the Auction House directly into Diablo III, giving players the opportunity to sell their items in a secure environment that aims to limit scams and other illicit behavior.

An extended interview with Wilson, in which he discusses his thoughts on crunch, fan feedback, and the concept of "it's done when it's done," is now live on Gamasutra.

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Paul Knights
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Actually I think most on the forums will believe you that the idea came from the team. I think they doubt that "it's a thing players want". It's an interesting idea, but frankly I don't like it and I think it damages the brand of both Diablo and Blizzard.

Henry Tuttle
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I don't like it either, but Blizzard's hand was forced. If they didn't make an RMAH, d2jsp would take its place. I see it as Blizzard legalizing and regulating drugs to stop the criminal enterprises and street dealers from harming people.

Ian Uniacke
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Well I want it and I'm a player. Ergo, "it's a thing players want".

Bryan Ferris
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I don't understand what your objection to the RMAH is... it's not like you're forced to use it, or the took away the normal one. Honestly, interest in the RMAH is the only reason I bought the game (and I'm glad I did, because I found out that it's really fun too).

Betable Blog
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I'm actually super excited to use the real-money auction house. I think the potential to cash in from playing your favorite game is pretty awesome. Also, from Blizzard's perspective it's actually brilliant because it opens up the whole "virtual goods" marketplace without making it feel like you're buying a pink cow for $5 from Zynga. Instead, they're taking a cut of player-to-player exchanges, thus creating the same benefit for the players (the ability to buy advancement).

Bruno Patatas
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I just can't agree with this, and for me I still can't see it as something that was driven by design.

As Tyler York commented: "opens up the whole "virtual goods" marketplace without making it feel like you're buying a pink cow for $5 from Zynga. Instead, they're taking a cut of player-to-player exchanges, thus creating the same benefit for the players (the ability to buy advancement)."

Ability to buy advancements is not one the things that people most criticize Zynga about? What is the difference then? Just because it's Diablo and not Farmville? At least to play Farmville you don't need to spend 60$ upfront...

Kyle Redd
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But Blizzard isn't just creating a way for players to make money. They've also outlawed any and all modding or customization of the game. It would be incredibly easy for me to, say, create a cool new costume for one of the player classes in Diablo III and put it up for fans to download for free. Certainly I could do this for Diablo II without an issue.

Blizzard isn't going to allow this any more. Now if I do that, my account will be banned and my right to play the game at all will be permanently revoked. Even if I only create that costume for my own personal game and no one else's, Blizzard will ban me, because a free costume is one they can't make any money off of.

That's why this claim of the real money auction house being driven by the design team is such a laugh. They might as well claim that the always-online DRM was also a design decision.

Dan the gaming Guy
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I think its a great idea, I like the concept I can earn a few bucks playing the game if I score some epic loot that I cant use.

Beats selling it on ebay.

When people see money and games in the same headline they immediately think exploitation. I think if people think this through rather than react, nothing has changed since D2, they just gave everyone access to it.

I'm with the designers on this one. If you dont like it, then play hardcore mode, there is no rah in that mode.

The real story here is whats the tax man going legislate when he sees people making real money in games...

Daniel Gooding
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As I recall they partnered with Paypal.Perhaps paypal is keeping track of all the purchases.

I know paypal isn't required to send off a yearly tax info unless someone has over 200 sales, or a certain amount made.

Here's the link &content_ID=marketing_us/IRS6050W

Nathan Zufelt
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I love it. There was always a MASSIVE market of ebay and offshore gold/item selling. I would much rather see Blizz taking a cut and the market being in the open like this. Cool to think that I might get a super unique drop that my class doesn't need/use and be able to sell or trade it through a legitimate storefront.

Rob Cannon
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The reason they did this was because of what the article mentioned, there was an absolutely HUGE community that developed in Diablo II around the buying and selling of items on E-Bay. I know a guy who made several thousand dollars doing it.

Blizzard sees this black market as inevitable and now part of the Diablo community/culture. Their intent with sanctioning it is to better control the outcome and keep people from getting ripped off or scammed by placing constraints on the medium used to buy and sell.

Erik Goyette
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I don't see how anyone who was part of the Diablo 2 commerce can be against it. It removes the eBay/Paypal middleman, and eliminates uncertainty from the transaction. It's a great move, coming off the last game.

Ramin Shokrizade
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I did an analysis of this new auction house monetization model five and a half months ago here:
It will be interesting to see how my predictions play out over the next month or two. As my paper explains, this is not a new model, it has been tried (unsuccessfully) before. As a closed alpha tester for Diablo 2, I would say the chances of it working here are even more remote (as I explain in detail in the paper).

Eric Geer
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If items were being sold in Diablo 2--unfriendly user interface---ie--trying to sell on ebay/paypal--then why wouldn't it work here? This just makes it accessible to all people---maybe people playing diablo 2 thought about it, but they didn't have credit cards and couldn't open accounts..maybe they didn't want to go through the hastle of doing it...

if it's in game--it becomes accessible, easy, connected with your established makes sense...I've never ever thought of selling in game items..but this is just too easy not too. If blizzard get's a cut--so be it--they are providing the platform to do it...

And it's not like you can't sell stuff online anyway--you would just have to communicate online, meet up in game and trade items. They aren't taking away anything that wasn't there before..they are just offering more to the players...if ya don't like it...well..don't use it.

Simon Ludgate
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I think that, from the perspective of those who support item selling, D3's RMAH is a good thing.

I think that, from the perspective of those who oppose item selling, D3's RMAH is a bad thing.

I don't think there is much to be said about the RMAH itself; obviously, if you want item selling in the game, this is the way to go about doing it. But the debate about the activity it supports is still very meaningful. This change is certainly a strong about-face from the days when game companies did their best to shut down real money trading for items.

Blizzard argues that after-market trading happens anyways and the results of such trading can lead to hacking, account theft, credit card fraud, and all sorts of bad things to the people who engage in this trading. By creating their own auction house, they protect users and allow them to trade in a safe environment.

I suppose there are strong parallels that can be drawn to the regulation of addictive and toxic chemicals, such as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. On the one hand, preventing their trade is costly and can result in significant collateral damage; on the other hand, their deregulated presence is generally even more harmful to society as a whole.

Will games be better and more fun thanks to online-only restrictions and real money auction houses? No doubt millions of people will be getting out their wallets and voting yes.

Patrick Davis
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Call me an old school gamer, but I can't fathom how people believe this is somehow a good thing. Things like this completely go against the "spirit of the game". Gaming is heading the wrong way when a company outwardly wants you to buy your way ahead. Why even play the game? What type of gaming experience are you gaining at this point?

I used to think I would be gaming until I'm old and gray, but I can't stand the direction people are taking my main hobby. Modern gaming is terrible...

Jamorn Horathai
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I'm sure you feel that you would never buy progression, however a lot of others do and they do it regardless of whether blizzard makes this in game. So I think blizzard trying to regulate it is ok. They are not forcing you to use it if you dont want to.

Another perspective on this issue is that if people want to play with their friends but do not have as much time to farm gear to be at par with their buddies. They would rather buy the gear to run with their friends than take hours off their busy schedule to farm the gear first before being able to play with their friends. I think that would be 1 use case as to why people would pay to progress.

Kevin Fisk
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@Jamorn,I get tired of the "don't like it don't use it" response like none of us have considered something so obvious. The bigger issue with sanctioning and promoting the auction house is that it means all D3 players are subject to always online DRM, no single player, and extremely unbalanced progression paths.If you have all the real money in the world to buy stuff then what's the difference in terms of balance to those that just duped items in past Diablo games? I'd rather just deal with dupers and that kind of thing and have my single player or LAN intact. I understand Blizzard would make less money but it absolutely ruins the game for me. I'm sorry.

Glenn Sturgeon
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After playing D2 for the past decade of which 5-6 years have had Bnet infested with "ad spam bots" pushing D2 item sales sites. All i can say is those will not be there in D3 and thats a good thing.
Another point is like it or not a alot of D2 players have bought items at one time or another. So there is very obviously a market and demand for the items. Some people buy items in games, some don't, i don't think it should be a risk for those who do and i also don't think "bootleggers" should make out with all the cash in doing so. Granted it kind of makes Blizzard look as greedy, as i know they are. Any company that charges a monthly fee and also full price for expansions on an MMO (wow) is without question very greedy.

Patrick Davis
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I think there "should" be a risk for buying items. The whole point is to trade items in game or earn them yourself. It was never sanctioned by Blizzard, people just did what they felt like doing. If your account got jacked by paying for things you had no business buying anyways, you brought it on yourself.

I can never agree with any company wanting you to use real money to buy your way ahead.

Glenn Sturgeon
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I see what you mean patrick but there are alot of people in the world who want to play but don't have hundreds of hours to do so in order to get the best or high end loot. And trading is often a time waster IMO. It sucks to waste 4-5 hours to trade for a weapon thats rare but if you don't have exactly what they want they wont trade. I see trading as more of a social aspect of the franchies, that is not what I and alot of other people are there for. I only play with a couple of people i know itrw and thats pretty rare. I play online in order to have "Mule characters" not for social aspects.
I've seen times in D2 when i'll do boss runs for a week (100s of runs) and not be able to move on due to a certain few items not dropping that i either need to use or for trade for what i need. Spending $2-4 (for an item) to go on rather than wasting life doing forced runs to be able to move on, is a good option to offer players imo. Getting your acount hacked or trading for a "dupe" that will dissapear is never a risk a customer should need to take. And we have ALL traded in D2 legitimately just to have a duped item end up dissapearing.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I may be fine with this. But if virtual items are being sold for real money, then it should be legal for third parties to find a way to set up their own auction house -- you know, free market and fair competition and all that. Players should like this too as it provides an incentive to drive the middle man cut down. Would Blizzard be okay with this, or do they want all of the positives of free market capitalism with real money and none of the negatives? Not sure from this article, just an interesting question, and a good way to test whether this is a ploy of greed or a sincere attempt to move the medium forward.

So if anyone wants to be the GameStop of Diablo III "used" items, competing with Blizzard by undercutting them (though at a disadvantage in terms of brand recognition), there might be profits to be had there. And since real money is changing hands for pieces of the game, users should have first sale rights to sell these pieces wherever they see fit. Used game controversy is only going to get hairier this way though.

Yeah, I have a bad feeling in my gut, but nothing concrete yet. We'll see how this goes.

Cordero W
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I agree. In fact, if I had the audacity to quit my day job and open my own online business where I sell items I found during my gameplay, then it's should be rightfully legal. If Blizzard even tries to sue me, I have all sorts of legal obligations I can use to defend myself.

And if they do try to go against me, then we can finally get some govenment involvement in how the top gaming companies are trying to cheat their consumers out of money through fraud dlc and other such value of a game. Just like how Japan is currently cracking down on microtransactions that some companies are doing. It's bad ethics and should be banished as fast as possible. It's also why casinos have a very strict policy to follow when opening one, cause gambling is by far the greatest way to cheat someone out of their money, and many mmos are guilty of this. Very soon, the mainstream companies will be doing this, and then people are really going to get pissed off.

Alex Leighton
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I'm sure Blizzard will do everything in their power to stop anyone from selling outside of their auction house. I'm also sure that Blizzard would argue that they own all in game items. So yeah, it's going to be interesting.

Cordero W
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@Alex: I dare Blizzard to say that someone doesn't own a virtual item. By paying Blizzard, the consumers own the game itself. It's as if I had caught every pokemon in a Pokemon game, then decided to sell the cartreidge to a friend for a higher value due to the save state on it. Gamefreaks doesn't own the pokemon or items in the game anymore. The consumer does from buying it.

This will then call into question in court whether if consumers who buy games actually have the right to own them or not. Considering consumer rights is that "you do," this will then create a law in court that will allow consumers to sue companies, or use other such trangressions, for not abiding to the free market of buy, sell, and trade.

So you see, even if Blizzard tries to crack down on any third parties, they'll be hurting themselves more than benefitting themselves.

Terry Matthes
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Between this and the "Account Balance" feature they are offering players it seems Blizzard has been uncharacteristically driving new revenue streams into their games. I feel this may be Activision exercising some control. Just a thought.

Simon Ludgate
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@Cordero: actually, you don't own the game itself. The very first line of the EULA is "THIS SOFTWARE IS LICENSED, NOT SOLD."

You own what you buy: the box, the paper the manual is printed on, the disk; but you DON'T own the intellectual property - the data on the disk or the words printed on the paper. Ultimately, what you've bought when you bought the box is a limited use license to use the software. It's more like an indefinite rent than a purchase; you can use it, but you don't own it.

Second-hand sales are viable if you can transfer the materials and license: hand over what you do own (the plastic) and you can re-sell it. But you don't own your online account, since there's nothing that physically transferred into your ownership. That's why Blizzard can shut down or delete your account at their whim, and you can't legally transfer it to another person (since it's not yours to transfer). It's like how you can't legally sublet an apartment if your original lease stated you can't sublease. Your agreement with Blizzard when you made your online account specifically states that it isn't transferable. See section 9 (OWNERSHIP) part B (Account):

"NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING TO THE CONTRARY HEREIN, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOU SHALL HAVE NO OWNERSHIP OR OTHER PROPERTY INTEREST IN THE ACCOUNT, AND YOU FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT ALL RIGHTS IN AND TO THE ACCOUNT ARE AND SHALL FOREVER BE OWNED BY AND INURE TO THE BENEFIT OF BLIZZARD. Blizzard does not recognize the transfer of Accounts. You may not purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, or offer to purchase, sell, gift, or trade any Account, and any such attempt shall be null and void and may result in the forfeiture of your Account."

When it comes to calling in to court, that's what holds up.

Cordero W
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My point was that it's those exact terms that would be called into question in court. Virtual possessions is the sketchiest subject in this era of reigning internet. People are being sued for cracking their own console, people who are liable to their games are being banned for trying to do a client side mod for their sake, and other such things to diminish the satisfaction of the customer. And Blizzard is by far one of the few who abuse this to no end. Those terms alone are no different from the terms that had been updated recently by Sony saying "You cannot take us to court." It's merely there to try to scare away the rats. Anyone can fight against them, and that's the point here. They have the legal power and money to drag it out. They can do that. But it doesn't mean they'll win.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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@Simon you seem to be talking about the game itself and the user's account, but what about the in-game items that people auction off?

edit: nevermind, saw your next post. Why am I not surprised?

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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Blizzard is taking quite a risk here.
There -will- be all kinds of legal problems with this sooner or later.

Once you are selling digital goods in your game for cash it comes with a lot of legal responsibility.
I hope it will set some legal precedents to probe these waters some more.

Jose Resines
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I don't know if the RMAH came from the business team or the design team. I do know that the RMAH shows how low Blizzard has fallen, when they implement a P2W mechanic and, worse, they take out offline single player and LAN play to force everybody to play online in the hope that they'll buy something.

The hacking and cheating excuses are just offensive, those of us who play with friends have never had any problem with cheating, and SP/LAN could have been left as an option, but no, Blizzard wants to dictate how everybody plays.

Blizzard used to mean quality to me. Now Blizzard is just Error 37. Killed by greed.

Mark Ludlow
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The thing people seem to be missing is that there is also an in-game currency (gold) Auction House as well. You do not need to spend your real world money to participate in auctions. You either invest time (spent farming gold), or you invest your real world money (short cutting the time you would otherwise invest). Alternately, you do not even have to use the Auction House at all and can spend your time playing and hoping for that perfect item drop.

It's not like Blizzard put the RMAH in just to make you spend money on items to play the game effectively and the items are not like free-to-play microtransaction goods because someone, somewhere in the world had to spend their time grinding for the item in the first place. All the RMAH is, as other people have said, is a way for players to do what was already being done in Diablo 2 without having to worry so much about scams and the legalities of selling virtual goods.

Edit: I should add that the success or failure of the RMAH will be driven by players. If people don't buy from it, people won't put items on it.

Cordero W
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Unfortunately, as already proven by free to play models, especially League of Legends, in a mmo social environment, people will use the quickest venues to power. And if you can buy your way to it, they will use it. You underestimate the power of humans buying the easy way. Diablo is a grinding game. Anything to get one person ahead of the rest is a great thing.

Felix Adam
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Side topic : Im curious about how you buy power in League of Legends. Champions that you can get for free in a relatively easy and stressless way? I would'nt call IP boost buying power, and definetly not skins...

Cordero W
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"Champions that you can get for free in a relatively easy and stressless way?"No. Not by a long shot. First, ever since last year, each champion being released has been at the 6300 ip mark. This mark is encourage people to buy the champions with real money. If you try to farm IP for a champion, you'll need a good twenty or so games average to actually achieve 6300 ip. And since new champions are released every two to three weeks, it's impossible for most people to be able to farm up enough to get that champion, along with any others. Thus far, a lot of the 6300 champions have been dominating the competitive scene, and I'm sure this isn't an accident. This further separates the experience as not everyone will get to see how a champion plays, and thus have a competitive analysis to go by in knowing how they work and whatnot. This alone is a gap widener of "power."

Unfortunately, if a new person came to this game and spent money to try to buy every champion in existence, they will have to spend $500 at least to obtain them all (this number grows with every new champion by 7 dollars). So for a free to play game, that's a pretty hefty price to pay for having access to all the current champions. And it's exactly this microtransaction that makes me hate the free to play model: because it isn't free to play. It's merely a new fad that businesses have assumed to try to cheat more money out of the consumer. Consumers are less likely to tally up the total costs of things, and look more to the now instead of the later. It's smart of them to take advantage of consumer's ignorance and intelligence, but it doesn't make it any less wrong.

Felix Adam
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I can think of many 'high tiers' champions that are relatively cheap. Janna, Taric, Udyr, Shen, Ashe, Ryze, Mundo... all 3150ip and less (if my memory serves me well), pretty much 'top tier' if I check the recent tournament picks, and you have one for every role in the current meta.

Also, the player makes a lot of the work. A bad player won't win if he has a higher priced champion if he doesn't know how to play/build him.

Sure, new champions are going to be 6300, they still want to make money. This also has been a debate (4800 vs 6300) and if I remember correctly, a 4800 was released 'not so long ago' (memory is fuzzy on that again), but yeah I agree that if someone wants to keep up with every champion on every patch, thats gonna require some dedication.

Still I wouldn't call Riot guilty of 'selling power'... I'd say they sell versatility. And even without spending anything, by the time you're lvl 30, you should have a good set of champs/runes to cover your prefered playstyle at that point.

I can see the hate of microtransaction toying with people's addiction, but it's not always about buying power.

Cordero W
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I'm not making the argument that 6300 automatically means the champion is great. However, it just means that the average player is less likely to have access to that champion, and thus lose out on the experience of trying them and analyzing them. Of course, three weeks later and on the next new champ, you get to try the previous new champion on the free week rotation. And they may show up months later on another free week.

But this choice is still controlled by riot, allowing them to time champions and whatnot to skin releases or patch updates to further the consumers' affinity for buying them. I'm not going to judge them for that. It's business.

Riot sells versatility. And they sell "time." And time is very important to players who want to access content. What Riot uses is what Korean f2p mmos have been using all along: make your game free to play, but make it very hard and time consuming to get most of the content unless someone uses real money. In addition, leave out cosmetics, the backbone of social online communities, and make it real money only. Ingenius. But downright evil.

I hear people say a lot "You don't need this look to play the game." This could not be so wrong. Cosmetics is the most valuable thing in an online community, as its a personal identification to others. Leaving it out from in game farming is precisely why the "you can get anything in game" that comes with f2p models is a sad lie. People who spent money on the game have mostly spent it on skins. That's why you hear the "I spent $300 in one month on LoL" stories. What a sad reality. Capcom or EA aren't the real villians of microtransactions. Mmos like this are.

Felix Adam
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On an evil scale, i'd still put Capcom way ahead of Riot, if only for the Street Fighter X Tekken scenario.

Of course Riot sells time. But in LoL's case, time != power. As stated before, having a certain champion won't have a direct effect on how many games you win. (Unless you're born to control a certain champion and have godly afinity with him/her) Give a player EVERYTHING in the game, and he won't be better, he'll just have way too much choices on his hands.

Champions released are usually made free the following week, or the one after that. I do agree that it is Riot who selects the free champs, but they do have a good variety to pick from and altought it happens, you rarely the same champs free during a 2-3 week scope.

They could however increase the number of free champions, or have monthly 'every champion is free' weekend.

I don't consider skins to be 'evil', although I completly understand why someone could think that. On that matter, it's purely opinion for me.

All thing said, I don't find them evil for offering skins/champs. Doubt we'll convince eachother, but arguing is always fun ;)

Robb Lewis
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@Cordero W Standard software EULA is a license to play the game but not own it. Purchasing or earning Virtual Items in a game would follow same license terms. The only way one would be technically off the hook is if the license explicitly grated ownership rights to a virtual goods, which I don't believe any games allow this.

Cordero W
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So you're telling me that Blizzard is allowed to freely have people buy and sell virtual items in their game with real money, but only through their platform? You're telling me that people aren't allowed to sell the time and money they invested into their game through their own methods, especially now that they've legalized capitalism in their game? Do you not see what's wrong with this?

This is exactly why the government needs to issue regulations now into the game industry: to stop practices like this.

"You're free to sell your items, but only through our shop. You can't go anywhere else to do it. You also cannot buy items anywhere else but through us."

Their excuse: "We're doing this to stop frauds and other thefts." So, when did a single company become my parent? They had the right to ban any accounts that bought or sold virtual items for real money, but now that they introduced that very aspect, there's no way they can inherit all the pros and neither of the cons, primarily competition. This is people's hard earned money, not some virtual 0s and 1s. And that goes further than the EULA.

Simon Ludgate
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Here's another fun bit out of the Diablo 3 Auction House Terms of Use:

14. Ownership of Loot. YOU AGREE THAT:

A. Blizzard owns or has the right to use all of the Loot, as well as all of the characters and content that appears in Diablo.
B. You do not own any of the Loot, characters, or other content that appears in Diablo, and that you have no right or title in or to any of the Loot (other than any license to use any Loot granted to you by Blizzard, which may be revoked by Blizzard at any time), Diablo, or your account.
C. You are not allowed to sell, trade or somehow transfer Loot, characters, or any other Diablo content outside of Diablo or the Auction House.

If this isn't explicitly clear regarding the ownership of loot, I don't know what to tell you.

Wayne Gardner
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I am no doubt one of many parents here ..with the time alocated for gaming less then the norm. So having the option to buy something to help me get where I want or what I want is great. Though I'm not even going to bother with Diablo 3 untill an expansion with a interesting class to play as.

A good example of SWTOR they released 1.2 where you can unlock races to use for other classes when u level to 50 or though paying in game currency. I rather pay cash to unlock straight away ..missed opotunity for revenue.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Games used to have a way to progress in single player games quickly for people who did not have the time to invest in them. They were called cheat codes, and they were free. But why give players control over how they play the game when you can create an artificial market with artificial scarcity and totalitarian rules (see Simon's previous post) yet benefit with real wealth.

Patric Mondou
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If you don't want to buy items with real money, then don't!

But some players will. If Blizzard doesn't allow it within the game, these players will turn to illicit methods and *that* is a real danger. As long as it applies to items actually found in the game by real players (and not Blizzard IAPs), it's a great idea and I can totally imagine this being proposed by the design team.

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great article! i think the RMAH is a great idea by Blizzard.