The list of improvements and changes introduced to the Diablo series in the upcoming Diablo 3 is quite interesting with feature such as persistent friends list, cross-game chat and PVP matchmaking, but the most controversial of them is the real-world money auction house.
Executive vice president of game design Rob Pardo explained that the currency-based auction house is a natural solution to a lot of problem that plagued the first 2 Diablo titles just like they affect a lot of RPGs and MMORPGs. For example in Diablo 2 when trading, people used to have to drop items on the floor and click with blind faith that they were getting what they expected. This led to the proliferation of scammers and to having the chat channels constantly spammed by item listings.
As usual with Blizzard, the company worked hard to balance the new feature and to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. Here is a quick list of all what we know till now about the new real world currency auction house:
- There is one regional auction house per currency type.
- One auction house uses in-game gold as currency.
- Players are kept anonymous while bidding.
- Almost all items (and eventually characters) can be sold through the auction house with the exception of quest specific items.
- Features such as auto-bidding and instant buyout price are available.
- All transactions are executed securely and instantly.
- Smart search mode allows you to find the items that suit you and your upgrade path from the available items. The system can search for items fully automatic, or player can specify the parameters of the items he need.
- A "nominal" fee is charged for listing items. In addition to its financial benefits to Blizzard, the listing fee aims to discourage people from selling trash and vendor loot.
- To allow players to try out the auction house without investing too much money, each player will be allowed a number of free listings per week.
- A sale fee is deducted from each complete transaction.
- The listing and sale fees are Blizzard's only source of profit from the auction house as they will never sell items directly through it themselves.
- Players can transfer their auction house earnings to the Battle.Net account balance and use it to buy any Blizzard goods and services.
- Players can cash-out their earnings through third party payment providers such as PayPal (the list of authorized payment providers hasn't been finalized yet).
- In-game player-to-player is not affected by the auction house.
- Hardcore characters cannot be sold since death is permanent in that mode. "We're protecting players from themselves -- we don't want a situation where someone spent a lot of money and then that character --along with the items -- gets deleted due to combat or PVP soon afterwards," Pardo explained.
No real-world currency auction house will be available in the Diablo 3 Beta since all Beta characters will be deleted at the end of the Beta phase. The in-game gold auction house will be available, however.