Buying Power and Online Required – Is Diablo 3 still a ‘buy’?

I have done a lot of thinking about the release of Diablo 3.  I have so many friends who are chomping at the bit to play this game, I am sure that I would have many many hours of gaming enjoyment playing this with friends online.  But should I give Activision Blizzard any more of my money? Do they deserve it?  Do the changes to Diablo 3 warrant a personal boycott?

I am sure that we have all heard by know that Blizzard has stated that they will be having a ‘real money’ auction house in Diablo 3 where players will be able to purchase and sell in-game items for real money.  RMT (Real Money Transactions) has been battled by developers and publishers for some time.  Players have been buying and selling items and mostly gold in online games for a long time – so much so that some countries have huge industries built around gold farming and selling.  Games don’t support this for several reasons: First the influx of in-game currency available to players ruins the economy and second the publishers aren’t getting a cut.  The gamers themselves hate it for one main reason: It allows players to BUY POWER.

Gamers who play online games like to flaunt their accomplishments, otherwise there isn’t much reason to be playing.  In most RPGs the accomplishments are displayed as ‘gear’ (the equipment that the player owns) because the higher encounters you beat the better gear you have to then conquer later encounters and to display to everybody what progress you have made in the game.  Players with the best gear, in this system, must be good and they must have put many many hours into their playstyle and strategies and are probably playing with other high quality players.

When you are able to purchase gear or in-game currency it allows players to buy progress in the game and to leapfrog into an area of progression which they did not earn.  This then devalues the work done by people that have earned this level of progression, and makes them feel as though the work that they put into the game is worth less.  This is no way to treat your hard-core segment of players.  Look at Blizzard‘s World of Warcraft for example; just the act of making older content easier is allowing more casual players to get better gear that other players had to work extremely hard for.  Hard core players of WoW are leaving the game, for this and many other reasons – and these casual players are somehow earning this gear imagine how people will feel when they can just pull out their credit card and BUY IT!

I firmly believe that this is a way for Activision and Bobby Kotick to attempt to further monetize Blizzard‘s games.  I don’t see what the need is.  Blizzard‘s games are a license to print money as it is… Is the push to make more money each quarter on earnings reports that important?  To Mr. Kotick it is, he has already ruined Guitar Hero and Call of Duty – two of the biggest franchises in gaming.

The real money auctions will net Acitivision Blizzard huge money.  Looking into how they will work shows that the publisher will net a profit 3 times for every transaction!

First, the seller will pay a listing cost which will be a percentage of the list price.  This is required, to stop people from putting things up for dumb amounts and never selling their wares – it will cost them money.  I hate this in WoW if I get undercut and it just costs me in-game gold, but real money?  Screw that.  Imagine being able to greif people by undercutting them and costing them more money!  Even if your listing is ONE CENT cheaper people will buy yours and the other guy may not sell at all and end up losing DOLLARS!

Second, when the buyer purchases the item Blizzard will take a cut of the full price.  They do this in WoW too, and there must be some economics behind it… limiting the amount of money in the in-game economy or something… but otherwise I don’t get it.  I don’t see a reason to do this in the real money auction house other than just a way to get money.  There is no excuse for this transaction to take place.

Lastly, to ‘cash out’ the sellers will then have to pay a fee to Blizzard.  I don’t think you need to cash out after every sale, but allowing Activision Blizzard to hold on to your money also sounds like a dumb idea.  Again, there is no reason for this transaction other than to take money from the players.

But like sparkly horses and flying lions people will still buy gear anyway and let Activision get away with their money-grubbing.

Now, it has also been released that Diablo 3 will require a connection to Battle.Net.  This I also hate, and is one of the reasons that I have not purchased Starcraft 2.  I like to play in airports, and while at work using my laptop.  I like to play games with co-workers at lunchtime – where plugging into the corporate network with our outside devices is not an option.  I will also now need to provide internet access when having a LAN party.  I know that there are some achievements and other such things that Blizzard is telling people is the reasoning behind this but it is a smokescreen: they just want everyone to require to log into Battle.Net so they can combat piracy.  That being said, I know for a fact that there are cracked versions of SC2 that work offline just fine and obviously don’t connect to Battle.Net servers.  Again developers and publishers are inconveniencing their paying customers and being utterly ineffective at curbing piracy.

It’s pretty easy to have my money.  Just follow Wheaton’s law and Don’t be a dick.  So far, Activision Blizzard are being dicks and I don’t think I will be playing Diablo 3. 🙁

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One Response to “Buying Power and Online Required – Is Diablo 3 still a ‘buy’?”

  1. I’ve had the same thoughts, about the auction house and some of the other recent announcements about Diablo 3. Such a disappointment, and I think I know the right thing to do, but, it’s quite a sacrifice. If you’re interested, I’ve actually put together a web site for people who will not be buying Diablo 3, so we can make our objections know to Blizzard as a group : Just getting things going there, would be happy to hear your thoughts about it and/or have your support. â?? Paul

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