Siebenaler: Diablo III auction has troubling implicationsWritten by Michael Siebenaler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Money has become a great gaming equalizer in Activision Blizzard’s new fantasy computer game Diablo III, which sold more than 3.5 million copies on its record-breaking launch day. Diablo III players can participate in a real-cash auction site that allows sales and purchases of in-game items using real currency.
This groundbreaking experience has had similar iterations as self-sustaining in-game “economies,” but never on this large a scale. Players can withdraw the money or increase their in-game currency from sales. Players are charged a flat fee to list items and another fee if the item sells.
Game publisher profits increase with each transaction, but it must contend with exchange rates, site security and, most importantly, cheaters who face a lifetime ban. Predictably, reporting suspicious activity is encouraged.
This whole system can be seen as a cheat because players no longer have to be good at a game to get great things. Rewards can be had if you have the money as hard-core Diablo III players could possibly identify a player’s misrepresented skill level or achievements in the game.
This auction site curtails the whole satisfaction function of gaming. Sure, it can be fun to buy stuff, but the game developer’s carefully planned designs and challenges will not mean much with these huge shortcuts.
There are some disadvantages for players looking for these shortcuts as well. “Newbies” can get a quick advantages, but must set up PayPal accounts to secure funds and use secure procedures (special codes, passwords, etc.), which can be a hassle at times.
This auction site might be ideal for people who have less game time in their schedules. They can still get ahead in this game by investing their money, which allows them more player powers to vanquish more powerful foes, but how do these vanquished foes feel when they find out they have been beaten by a 15-year-old … who just bought a killer sword with his $100 weekly allowance money from his parents … a sword that took weeks to find in the game?
Sure, the vanquished player might never find out all these details, but they certainly get a sense of who they are through online chats and in-game behavior observations. Could this auction site create new animosity among players? It might, but would it matter among a war-filled, horror-action game?
Diablo III is available in standard and collector’s editions on PC and Mac computers.