Diablo III’s Auction House is looking like it will help much more than hinder the trading of items in-game
“And next up is Wirt’s Leg. Wirt was a fine lad who would have grown up to be a merchant of questionable repute. Alas, he met his maker under mysterious (and some say bovine) circumstances. All that we have left as a memento of the boy is his plunger that doubled as a prosthetic leg. We are opening the bidding at one flawed sapphire and a Nef rune.”
Aside from Deckard being the slowest auctioneer ever (I can just hear him saying, “Stay awhile and bid”), I am all for Auction Houses in Diablo III. Yes, auction houses will allow those that don’t put in the time to acquire Godly items with the appropriate amount of greenbacks and yes, Blizzard will likely make a pretty penny from their auction fees, but I believe that the loudest critics either have forgotten or have no knowledge of early Diablo II economics.
I began playing Diablo II shortly after release and didn’t quit until late 2007. While I don’t have any knowledge of what has been going on with the game since I kicked the habit, I was there from the beginning until well after the title’s heyday. Prior to expansion when the odds of bagging a Unique while gambling were actually reasonable, I would acquire mountains of gold and then gamble for such desirables as Tarnhelms, Chanceguards, Frostburn Gauntlets, and Wyrmskulls. I would then head straight to eBay and put up listings for each item . . . and they sold like hotcakes. A couple of hours of work a night would net me an easy 50 bucks. I earned a reputation as an honest and reliable seller, and even after eBay quit accepting listings for virtual items, I was almost as busy selling expansion Uniques and runes directly through Paypal. I didn’t peddle my goods post-expansion. The buyers came to me with requests and I would do what I could to accommodate them. Just as it applied to cloned dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm’s perception of Chaos Theory holds true here as well, those with the means and the desire for Diablo items “will find a way”.
I don’t support Blizzard’s Auction House because I want to bank some scratch. I no longer have the time nor the desire to put well over 1,000 hours into a game. I support it because it streamlines a part of the game that would have occurred through outside channels without it. The Diablo II Battle.net channels were overflowing with people looking to sell or trade their goods. Diablo II community sites had enormous trade forums that were bustling with activity. It was more difficult to find a game where people were actually playing the game than it was to find one where items were being sold or traded.
The trading system in Diablo II was full of corruption and inscrutable traders. I saw dozens of scams designed to liberate players from their hard-earned items come and go, from switching Uniques with normal items at the last minute to promises of duplicating items gone awry (though anyone willing to dupe deserved to have their items stolen, in my opinion). Each and every trade with a stranger was full of risk and uncertainty. Any system designed to ensure a secure and streamlined trade, whether it be for real dollars or virtual gold, is a welcome change from the seedy black market dealings that went on in Diablo II.
I know one of the chief arguments against the Auction House is that it will ruin the economy in the game. Is grinding endlessly for the rarest of items going to unbalance things more than duping them? I don’t think so. I commend Blizzard for embracing the hunt for items and allowing those that want to tirelessly grind to make a buck or two. After all, it certainly wasn’t the incredible amount of fun of endlessly clicking on monsters that kept many of us playing Diablo II for years and years. It was the quest for the Grail.
So I will see that flawed sapphire and Nef rune and raise with an emerald and an Eth rune. I have a Cow King to kill, who will hopefully drop something incredible that I can use, trade, or make a buck on. Capitalism is a wonderful thing in the world of Diablo.