So what’s Blizzard’s cut? The studio has not released exact figures for fees to use the real money auction house service. However, Blizzard has confirmed that a “nominal fixed transaction fee” will be charged for any item sold on the auction house. According to Blizzard, “This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold.” Blizzard will also collect a separate “cash out” fee if you choose to use the unnamed third-party service for your transactions. Remember, if you use your Battle.net account for a sale, you won’t have to pay this fee, but you also won’t be able to “cash out.”
According to Blizzard, the listing fee is designed to discourage players from overloading the auction house with low-quality items while encouraging players to post high-quality items at a reasonable price. What’s reasonable? That’ll really depend on what players decide. A “smart search” feature promises to make browsing convenient for buyers, allowing players to refine their searches for specific upgrades to character slots or to search for items that cater to a specific character build by prioritizing search results with certain stat boosts.
Above: An early look at the real money Auction House on Battle.net for Diablo III. Head here for more images of the real money and in-game gold Auction Houses
The listing fee for sellers on the real money auction house will be waived for a limited number of transactions for your Battle.net account. That’s one way Blizzard hopes to make the system less intimidating for new users, but the company has not settled on the exact number of list fee-free auctions it plans to offer.
Of course, if you don’t like the idea of a real money auction house in Diablo III, you won’t have to use it at all. It’s also interesting that if you will not be able to use the real money auction house for items heading to Hardcore characters in Diablo III. “We wanted to save players from themselves,” explained Blizzard’s Rob Pardo. Hardcore-mode characters will be able to access items from transactions on a special Hardcore-only in-game gold auction house. When characters created with the Hardcore difficulty setting die, they lose all your equipment. And yes, that also applies to any loot acquired from the in-game gold auction house. According to Blizzard, it didn’t seem to make sense to allow players to trade real currency for in-game items that may eventually be deleted from the game.
Above: Want a new weapon for your Demon Hunter? You can get one immediately on the auction house… for a price
As with Diablo I & II, Diablo III loot will have level restrictions, preventing players from blasting through the campaign with real money loot. With fewer “soulbound” items than MMOs, like WoW, players will have a lot of freedom with any item acquired from the auction house, allowing you to re-use, trade, and even re-list items back on the auction house.
Traditionally, the black market for in-game items has been the elephant in the room that game developers just don’t talk about. That’s why the real money auction house for Diablo III marks a huge shift for how game studios handle player driven economies in online games. By taking the cash-for-item trades away from traditionally sketchy gold farmer sites and putting it under the official banner of its Battle.net service, third-party gold farming businesses and services may become a thing of the past if more online games adopt a similar business model to Blizzard’s moving forward.
Expect more on both the real money auction house and the actual game as Blizzard’s “it’ll be ready when it’s ready” launch date for Diablo III approaches. In the meantime, be sure to check out our beta preview of Diablo III and a ton of new screens showcasing the auction house and gameplay.
Aug 1, 2011
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