The Great Chat Controversy: Solved


UPDATE: Chat will be in. Good job everybody! I guess this also gives Blizzard the ability to say “see, we listen.” And in this case, they chose something very potent to listen to their fans on. I’m just glad Bashiok just happened to be wrong, and nothing else. I guess that also means that you can disregard the rest of this article!

Diablo 3 Chat Tab

Oh, and yeah, we’re getting another beta patch “in the coming weeks,” so we get to test it. Good news? I’d say “sort of.” We are currently unsure as to whether or not the patch will include skills and runestones.

Soooooo… hey everyone. How’s it going? Good? Weather ok? Great… so, right… You know how sometimes you say something that’s stupid and wrong and then people very reasonably get upset and create a lot of threads and discussions and demands with some pretty reasonable reasons for the thing you said wouldn’t happen but then it turns out that you’re stupid and wrong and the things you said are completely the opposite of what’s actually true?

Yeah. So that happened. Public chat channels will be in Diablo III, barring any catastrophe that requires we remove them, because they’re already implemented. In fact they’ll be in an upcoming beta patch so you’ll get to see and play around with them yourselves.

I’m not sure I can offer any explanation as to the incorrectness of my statements, except that I believed them to be correct when I made them. I apologize, and I’ll strive to not be stupid and wrong in the future.

More info on the chat feature, and others, to come in the weeks ahead.

Thanks for sticking with it, and me.

Click more for the previous article.

Since its announcement, DiabloWikiDiablo 3‘s history has been marred by controversy. From the art style to its game mechanics, consensus within the fan community has been absent. This is to be expected, as the sequel comes from the critically acclaimed DiabloWikiDiablo 2, that has stolen days, months and years for many. However, for the first time, it seems that the fanbase is nearly united on one issue: chat channels.

For those that are unfamiliar with the debate, we reported about this a few days ago, and I would encourage you to read up on the Battle.net Forums on what has become not one, not two, but a three-part thread discussion about Blizzard’s omission of the chat channel feature. Similar discussions have cropped up on our board that cover many chat channel banes and boons.

In this article, however, I attempt to maintain an objective stance on the issue while analyzing one of the prominent arguments – I accept that I cannot eliminate my personal bias, though. If you would otherwise like to be saved from a “too long, didn’t read” article, this is your fair warning.* Now that Bashiok has provided us with the update, this is rendered rather moot, but feel free to read anyways.

Blizzard’s Chat Channel History

Chat channels were not always a thing of the past for Diablo 3. Their omission of the feature, it seems, was actually a relatively recent development within the past 5 years. Back in July of 2011, I had attended a press event for Blizzard. One of the main topics of discussion at the event was the recent reveal of the Battle.net UI for Diablo 3.

As of September of last year, Bashiok had stated that they were “in and working.” And so they were. According to Blizzard and Co. it was due to the following:

It seems there’s been some confusion taken from the above statement I made back in September. The chat in Diablo III is exactly as I described, you do all of it in a single window. StarCraft II has a system where each chat is broken out into a separate window, chat program-style, but Diablo III keeps it all in one. The same single window that’s used for chat when you eventually jump into a game, too.

As far as having open public channels, there’s far more negative to them than positive and we maintain a stance that creating an open chat environment without a social structure behind it is an invitation for moderation and support disasters. Most people that want chat channels though are referring to guild channels, or otherwise channels they themselves can operate and choose to invite others to, and we see those as completely valid forms of chat (there’s a social structure backing the channel). As I said, back in September, it’s unlikely to be anything we attain for ship, but the social group-type chat features are still very much a desire for the future.

We have oft heard that the reason behind their decisions are the weighing of pros and cons. But is everything as it seems? DiabloWikiBashiok makes a fair attempt at explaining their stance, though it is clearly not all-encompassing and it provides very little substance to the message he is trying to get across. When there is a lack of transparency or information, speculation and theories begin to take hold. So we ask ourselves, why would Blizzard content themselves with omitting one of the most crucial tools for community development?

A Community Theory

Tinfoil hats on?

The most popular theory revolves around the DiabloWikiReal Money Auction House, more commonly known as the RMAH. Blizzard is a corporation, and as such, they need to make money to continue existing. This is just a hard fact. But it means that their games must maintain revenue streams that increase profits (or maintain them) rather than cannibalize or reduce them. Currently, the biggest and only known source for Diablo 3’s continued stream of revenue is the RMAH. To the company, Diablo 3 would be considered a failure if it cannibalized as little as 5% of World of Warcraft subscriptions. This puts a lot of pressure on the success of the RMAH, as it must provide revenue that is equal to or more than the net loss of revenue from cannibalization. The implication is that Diablo 3 must provide incentive for the use of the feature from day 1 of release.

So why is this important?

The RMAH currently has a total of 3 fees if you are to be cashing out with Paypal or other providers. The first is for posting an item, the second is from selling the item, and the third is the cash-out fee through Paypal. This, in short, is how Blizzard will be making its steady income. We might also say that this is where Blizzard will justify making expansions and new content for the game, as they need the money as the foundation for continued work.

If we are to accept the previous postulate as true, we can then identify Blizzard’s incentive to limit player trading. Peer trading effectively eliminates the middle man – Blizzard. Since gold will have a real-world value attached to it, if we decide to trade to a fellow player within a general chat channel we avoid all fees and maintain the entire sum of gold made from the item you sold. Thus, Blizzard has incentive to limit forms of play trading and by extension, communication. To limit games to players of four, omit general chat, and omit a player-made game lobby, they can promote the use of the RMAH subliminally.

It is true that Blizzard would never eliminate player trading, as such a decision would put a nail in Diablo 3’s coffin with vindictive force. However, it is with the limitation of the avenues of communication that a correlation can be seen. And ultimately, a healthy game community is the expense for the monetary agenda. The two aspects are at odds with each other: without community, the RMAH has failed. With community: the RMAH can never reach its full potential.

In the end, a balance of chat limitations result from the monetary aggression sprouting from the corpse of Diablo 2.

Could this be the real answer?

Probably not in its entirely, but the correlation and repercussions have real implications regardless of the reason. The health and integrity of the community suffers from the decision, and their voices have resonated through Diablo 3’s communities across the net. What I do know is that the lack of channels for communication strangles the ability to make friends and, god forbid, share items with others you may have come across needing your help. While it may be the exception to the rule, I’ve met plenty of players over a decade of time through chat channels that were willing to extend a helpful hand or give things away for free.

Conclusion

For whatever the full reason Blizzard has conjured to justify their decision, I can’t say its a good one. I don’t normally condemn a decision point blank, but the decision to omit chat channels is bad outright.

Community is a quintessential aspect for a game’s longevity. This is not to diminish the importance of the single player, but it is to illuminate the potential cost to a game that thrives on co-operation and player interaction for financial success. Blizzard needs people to use the RMAH. But what Blizzard has failed to recognize is that incentive to “have the best gear” that the RMAH will be providing is diminished without the presence and exposure to your community.

I have seen the following phrase used to express their feelings: “I want my character to be wearing my gear and standing in a row.” In short, people want to show off. Moreover, people want a community that can recognize and care about the effort they’ve put into their characters (though with Bobby Bucks, that’s a bit marginalized now, right…?). And as shallow and incessant as that may seem, it is also a reality. It is a reality so potent that fans are willing to write 52 pages worth of comments.

But community itself has value that extends beyond the voracity and well-dressed presentations of one’s e-peen. People have found life-long friends, soulmates, and even their husbands and wives through the gaming medium. Relationships are formed and broken, creating memories that we may never forget (and sometimes much to our chagrin). Games provide an avenue of socializing that brings people with like-interests together. While we often enter games with those that seem to have crept from the foulest bowels of the internet, the few we meet that make a difference in your life is a potent catalyst for a player’s interest in the game. It is for this reason (and others) that the community believes that Blizzard has forgotten what it means to have a co-operative community-based game.

The omission of general and private chat out of the gate will resonate throughout the game’s future. The majority of the community will only use the tools that are given to them, and if they are limited by 4-person games and real-life friends, it will have an inherent relationship to the long-term success of the game. While a core community will seek out IRC channels and forums, a vast amount of people absent. The real test will be whether or not the community will settle in for the wait – if/when they are added.

So this brings us full circle. Has Blizzard lost touch with their community? Could it be possible that the community itself will kill Blizzard’s golden goose?

*I know I’m not covering every argument out there, but extrapolating from one of the most compelling ones.

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  1. Counting the beta, SC2 will be two years old in March – and the game’s interface has barely developed over that span. While the lack of LAN support is the major issue for most people (as frequently demonstrated in tournaments with connection issues), I feel that the general feel and usability of the new battle.net UI are just as frustrating for the average user.

    Sure. We’ve seen some improvement with chat being added. But it’s telling that we had to ask for that in the first place. And we have vague promises for the map marketplace / arcade to fix the completely broken custom game scene with HotS. But there’s so much more.
    Personally, the game’s UI discourages me from playing on a daily basis. When the new battle.net was developed, we were promised that we’d “never want to be offline again”. But every single time I log on, I feel utterly alone, maybe play a game or two, and then leave again. Both in SC/BW and WC3, I’d idle around forever, hang out in channels or waste time in custom games.

    Communicating and socializing is too hard.

    Chat. It still sucks. Simple commands like /w outside of games would make life tremendously easier. Real channels would be great. Or sending messages to my whole friends list. At the moment, any act of communication is a hassle; I either have to navigate through my friends list (which could be a lot more accessible too, by the way) to message people; I have to clumsily navigate through menus to send messages to other folks (or add them to my list); I even have to click through menus to ignore or report people.

    Everything could be so much easier with a decent chat interface, yet we seem to be stuck with the farce of a system we currently have.

    Clan support (+clan channels). This rocked in WC3. You had a place to meet with friends and clan mates, and you could even moderate your channels. You actually had a sense of community while online.

    A working custom game system. Despite the chaotic first impression, WC3’s system worked. All the SC2 popularity system does is kill any incentive to play maps that aren’t on the first two pages. Also, Blizzard’s attitude of blocking development instead of encouraging it have led to a custom scene that’s pretty much dead. The vocal criticism of the ridiculous limits on map developer freedom have died down because most developers have stopped developing and caring.

    I had hoped to see countless maps by now, exploring the boundaries of the map editor and creativity, but all we have are some DotA clones, some TD maps and nothing too exciting else.

    The whole league system. Sure, we all know how and why the MMR works right now. But why scrap the system that worked so great in WC3? Right now, we can’t compare anyone (regardless of whether you think ladder matters or not). Grandmaster league helped, but only if you’re looking at pros. I can’t even judge whether I’m better than my buddy or not, because we’re both in meaningless divisions of pointless leagues, and our MMR is invisible.

    ——————————

    Things went wrong when Blizzard decided to develop the new B.Net from scratch, and to employ a casual game / console developer for the job. I have nothing personal against Greg Canessa, but I feel it shows that he developed for PopCap and Xbox Live before. That by itself needn’t have been a bad thing, but why for the love of all that is holy did everything that worked well in previous games have to be removed? Hell, the better part of Blizzard’s fame came from releasing games with fantastic interfaces and great functions, yet SC2 is a step back (or several) compared to 2003’s WC3 or even 1998’s SC.

    And why all this? Well, of course because it works for Blizzard. Enough people were happy with what they got, not enough people cared. The folks who just bought the game for the campaign obviously didn’t bother with the menu much, and the competetive 1vs1 crowd basically just needs a working matchmaking system (which is great, btw, and the only redeeming feature). But there’s a huge number of players interested in socializing, custom maps and analyzing their play. Those that haven’t left have grown complacent or jaded with Blizzard’s ignorance.

    The adding of chat and the scrapped forum real-ID feature have shown what players can achieve when the voice concerns; the complete lack of development in the meantimes is a great sign of how little will suffice for the majority to accept their fate.

    This game could be so much better.

    • Love your post. Have you put in on the battle.net forums? I see your point about the console style of BNET. It did make it accessible, but in a console way. We lost everything that was good.

    • Sadly I’m reminded of all the things I found wrong with SC2.  I suppose I let it go since I was never a very big SC fan in the first place but I did find the complete lack of a mapping community disappointing.  I actually went back just a month or two ago to see if things had changed and found the same three maps that dominated the map just after release were still the most popular choices.  There really has been no progress on that front.

      I didn’t consider how much the social aspects affect the community and its growth and development.  This actually does get me to feel a bit bad that channels are out from D3 even though I didn’t care much about it until now. 

      Captcha: Double whammy…. heh ouch

    • – SC2’s custom games are far more convenient than the WC3 ones, no waiting for someone to create a game, no wild clicking to get into the game that you like. Making a map popular is tough, but there are mechanisms such as the “fun or not” and “upcoming” categories. If people use that, good maps will eventually show up in their rightful place, if they don’t use it they wouldn’t have joined the occasional weird game floating past in that endless list of WC3.
      Are further adjustments required? Definitely, we need more incentives and easier access for map developers for instance, but going anywhere near WC3’s model with SC2’s huge playerbase would be nothing short of catastrophic for custom games.
       
      -Chat channels make a community, really? My experience with public chat channels is advertisement in D2 and nothing/pointless spam in WC3. Does actual communication occur? Rarely and barely anything meaningful. The shaping of communities happens outside the game. You will most certainly have existing clans/guilds keeping their social structure in the game, even if they have to use outside communication programs. Forums (official or not) and fansites will have their communities, reddit will have one, incgamers will have one etc.
      There simply is no such thing as “the community” for a game that is going to have a playerbase of millions, a human mind cannot “socially process” that many people in any meaningful way.
       
      I suppose you could argue that it is more difficult to find your way into a community if all you have for communication is public games, but I don’t think the effect would be as dramatic as you describe, if you are interested in finding a community you will find one.
       
      For me, chat channels with specific purposes for a small number of people (read: less than a thousand) is all that is required and yes, I am a little disappointed and surprised that those may not make it into the initial release.

      • Custom games in SC2 are fine if you like the any of the three maps that are popular.  It just doesn’t work for anything else.  Without support for those start up mappers, no community formed around it.

        WC3 guild channels were really strong for chat communities.

      • I wish you could still downvote people here…

  2. The older we get, the more we complain.

  3. I don’t know about SC2.

    But I think the reason why there will be no chat lobby in D3 is because they want to encourage players to do most of their trading through the auction house, and yes, through the real money auction house.

    • You do know that many of those things you are talking about aren’t actually “feelings” but can be looked up and researched, right?
       
      Communities, just off the top of my head:
      http://www.teamliquid.net/
      http://dd.reddit.com/r/starcraft
      http://day9.tv/

      Not even mentioning the e-sport companies/events or the non english communities (particularly the korean one).
       
      I’m not very good at SC2, but I play it regularly, have heaps of fun and I definitely do not share the view that “hardly anyone is playing it now” and neither do my friends. Although I should mention that I’m not particularly fond of “good ol’ days” doomsayers, which appear to be the source of your rumors (and a great many articles on this site)

    • Flux, you definitely know your stuff when it comes to Diablo, but you apparently have no idea about the SC2 community. That rumor you heard about the SC2 expansions being possibly shelved were baseless and, frankly, ridiculous. The community actually want a great deal from the expansions and even though there isn’t even a vague time frame for release (like D3’s “early 2012”), people are still anxiously waiting for it and it is just an expansion. SC2 has actually turned out to be one of the biggest E-sports around. To think the SC community only existed because of chatrooms is silly at best. As for nobody playing it anymore, on the xfire ranking charts, it is above Skyrim, Counter Strike Source, TF2, all MMOs other than Old Republic and WoW… If someone said nobody plays *those* games, I would think they are either severely misinformed or just stupid. I’m not sure why anyone would think nobody is on, seeing as how it auto-finds players and I’ve never had a problem finding matches even at 4am and on a higher skill level (lower leagues have more people).

      Going by a “few friends” is like assuming nobody cares about D3 because of the heat it got over AH and frequent “I’m not going to buy it” rants. Even though it tops “most anticipated” polls and is in second in pre-orders right now (behind Mass Effect 3) despite not even having a release date.

      • Look, I’m completly ignorant about SC. All I know is that it is a RTS game and that it has/had HUGE success as an e-sport, specially in Korea…

        …but, if Blizzard was expecting, let’s say, 20.000.000 players and they only have 7.000.000, that’s a freaking huge cut. These are just random numbers (I can’t imagine how many people play SC2). That’s enough, from a coporate standpoint, to just kill any future projects.

    • “and hardly anyone is playing it now” OH NO YOU DI’INT!  In all seriousness though, the SC2 community is thriving more and more everyday.
      3.5 million people tuned in to watch MLG SC2 matches last season.  TeamLiquid is by far the largest fan community of any blizzard game out there. There are almost 20k users watching a Brazillian SC2 tourney right now.
      Have you ever seen a game community do this? -> http://www.teamliquid.net/barcraft/
       
      Now, if only they’d put in a halfway decent chat system into the game…

      • Actually, that’s not true. With every new season there’s fewer and fewer players. There’s a few threads on TL where you can find charts showing the significant decrease in number of players, the one I managed to find is here:
        http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=280627
        I bought SC2, and to this day I feel bad for spending my money on this game. I’ve tried at least watching it, but the game hasn’t developed a bit in 2 years…it’s just badly designed.
        And the user interface is one of the worst I’ve seen. There’s so many features missing that there’s no point in talking about it. Blizz drop the ball with Sc2.

        • Players like yourself, who pick up try it out and then stop playing, are common in all games.  But does that mean hardly anyone is playing it?  Or that the community is dieing?  D2 experienced the same thing but the community was still alive and I’m sure D3 will be no different.
           
          If you look beyond player counts, the number of people watching SC2 tournaments increases every quarter, the number of SC2 tournaments is increasing all the time, SC2 is in no trouble of dieing out anytime soon.

        • @Neinball
           
          People watching matches doesn’t actually make Blizzard any money… so i’d say how many people are playing is slightly more important from their PoV.
           
          Of course to better judge teh drops we’d need more data about what SC1 did over the years…

  4. I’d rather not be the one to complain about this, just gives Blizz another reason to delay the game.

    • Why would they need to delay it for a feature they’ve already implemented and subsequently removed? It’s not like the code disappeared over night.

  5. My head is kind of spinning right now because I think your theory may be correct. When I first heard about the chat situation I was irritated like most but I never thought about several of the items you pointed out: RMAH, showing off gear, and player trading.

    It almost makes me mad at how successful WoW has been because steady revenue streams is the new rage in game development. No longer do you produce a good product and then sell it for money and be considered successful. You have to produce a good product that not only makes money when sold, but produces more money when played. Thus the RMAH. I don’t necessarily like the idea of a RMAH but I see some benefits to it. I am guilty of buying items from shady websites in D2 but it was never my main means of obtaining items. So security is beneficial. And heck…I can’t wait to make some money! But to restrict player communication so Blizzard’s new money maker is forcibly used is quite disturbing.

    Trading is and was one of the most fun features in Diablo 2. I don’t know how many deals I’ve pulled over the years but it was literally thousands. But now I don’t know how a player is going to be able to make deals when games are restricted to 4 players and there are no trade channels or public channels. Sounds pretty fishy to me. I guess there will have to be hundreds of trade games that people will have to hop in and out of.

    I did laugh at the part where you mentioned showing off gear because I use to LOVE showing off my gear. I remember that I found this sweet combination of a crappy socketed sword plus a colored gem and it made me look like I had this mysterious unknown pink sword. I can’t tell you how many times someone asked me what it was and I would never tell anyone. It was hilarious!

    Again, great article though it really bums me out about Blizzard. Their more corporation than fun now. Hopefully this is something where the community can make their voices be heard and we’ll get back our awesome BNet interface.

    • This is exactly why Blizzard is known as a service provider, rather than a product seller.

      Sadly…

      • Most businesses in the tech world are trying to move to an ongoing service revenue model and away from a box shipping model, because that’s where the money is. IBM have operated this way forever.

        • I read a leaked e-mail to a Google meeting not that long back from an employee, Steve Yeggs, who had previously worked at Amazon, and was critiquing and comparing practices and why Google + sucked.

          One of the stories he wrote about was an experience with the CEO of Amazon and how one day he came into the office and said “as of today, we’re a service provider, not a product seller. Anybody unable to make this change in a day will be fired.” (paraphrased)

          It was an interesting read and had some nuggets of corporate insight.

    • LOL Trade Games?

      No…blizzard beat you to that one. You can’t even name  your game in this archaic shit interface. My god every time I log into beta I want to vomit all over my screen.

  6. Yeah lets just release the game with bnet 0.2 for xbox so we can all stop playing after a couple of months. Just like SC2.

  7. they are forceing us to play with irc/icq agian just to form a diablo 3 Community.
     
    blizzard was all about makeing good games, now they only think about money :/
    i allso run a compainy and need to make money, but i lissen to my costumers, but i only got 300-400 of em bilzzard got alot more :/

  8. So how much of this is just manufactured controversy to fulfill some weird confirmation bias on this sites behalf? I dunno. Maybe I just didn’t pay too much attention to chat channels when I was playing Diablo 2. But once again a “feature” that is not in the game I won’t miss to much being lamp shaded by this site seems a little silly to me.

    • By THIS site? Did you click the Diablo 3 forum links? Because I posted this article after 65 pages had already been written on the official site.

      So I guess the answer to your question is “no.”

      • Because comments on the internet mean something, right? Did you ever wonder why conspiracy theories and generally whacky views are so prominent on the internet? Because most of the reasonable people cba to join the fray.
         
        Also, long threads are either /sign fests or a great deal of discussion. The former is meaningless and the latter only shows that the issue is hotly debated, not that people agree with you.

        • If you had spent a minute researching the issue, you would have seen that this fell under none of your categories. I never read a single person /signing, and it was almost universally agreed that no chat channels was a terrible idea.
           
          Instead we had 70+ pages of passionate and well articulated criticisms with very very little dissent.

          • Fair enough, I don’t think generic open channels ever served any real purpose (as opposed to channels for specific communities/tasks) but apparently Blizzard agrees with the community building argument, we’ll see how that turns out.

  9. I don’t necessarily agree with the reason you postulated for RMAH interfering with chat. As you say, chat (plus functionality of showing off character’s gear, blinged out) helps foster community. It’s not such a challenge to make peer trading still feasible with RMAH. There are a couple of ways around this.

    First and most restrictively you could create a system like WoW where items have an item lvl and the better the item the higher the level. Blizz could restrict item lvls of a certain threshold from being peer traded, along with commodities (magical essence, etc.) and gold and only traded on the AH/RMAH. Obviously this would suck.

    Second community actually encourages trading. If a guild/clan (which I posit would be best set up through chat channels) wanted to be the best it would maximize its resources to get the best items. This would mean getting profit off of the RMAH to get the best items, pooling resources together just as a corporation does. If I have an awesome item that sells for $20 that only benefits one clan member, but I can get two items for two clan members at $8/each, I’d totally sell that $20 item, and then buy the rest at $16. There won’t always be such arbitrage but there’s the possibility.

    Third, there will also be a personal monetary incentive here. As loot drops are individualized, you may get an awesome drop and not tell any friends. If you know you can get a certain threshold of $ for an awesome item, would you honestly not sell that item? The only times I wouldn’t sell that item is if I could give it to a good friend from RL playing d3 or if I had established a close relationship with a clan member. In the first alternative to selling scenario, I’d do peer trading anyways because it’s a good friend. In the second alternative scenario, my relationship can occur even without chat, and would have to be of significant enough value to offset the monetary benefit. The only time the second scenario would occur would be if there wasn’t enough money for the item coming from the RMAH. Overall I think the macro economy can suffer such scenarios.

    Finally, if you look at TF2’s RMAH success (which is extremely high), it’s entirely dependent upon the very point you highlight, showing off your awesome loot. If D3 doesn’t provide an opportunity to show off loot in a really compelling way for its highest performing players (which I think chat is absolutely necessary for), the RMAH won’t work.

    • But, L, the crux of my point rests on one thing: the disparity between selling directly versus using the RMAH. The player selling for profit always, and I mean always, has an incentive to sell directly to a player. They can effectively get the full price for the item they sell.

      Take this scenario, for instance. (Variables can be either gold OR money – interchangeably)

      -I have [Axe of Slaying Everything] and I am selling it for X amount.
      -Blizzard takes out Y amount as fees.
      -I am now only collecting [X-Y] for a net amount of Z.
      -Player Joe buys for price X.

      In the end, the player was willing and able to pay X for it, but you willingly gave up Y amount for using the RMAH. Now, perhaps Y really is the value you’ve put on using the RMAH as a service. But what if you had had a trade channel to sell it on your own? All of X would be directly in your pocket.

      And this is where my postulate comes into play. If you have no avenue for communication via chat, you no longer have the option to be a viable peer seller or buyer unless you use IRC, Forums, etc.

      So it all comes back to who it affects, regardless of the reason. And that’s us, the community – and you illuminated that perfectly, and I agree wholeheartedly.

      • Sure it might save some money here and there but the same is true in WoW and the AH there is used quite extensively even given the really powerful chat and communications systems.  Even high ticket items find their way on there so I’m not sure that this argument holds water.  I certainly don’t think that this is a serious enough cost to outweigh the benefits from Blizzard’s perspective with regards to the AH.  If anything it is a minor point in comparison to the issue of moderation.

        • I don’t think the fees are nearly the biggest problem, not in the slightest. I think it has more to do with providing incentive to people to USE the RMAH. There are other possibilities for us other than selling – many people gift things away to people they meet and become friends with or they’ll swap items as they drop on your quest (which is still possible)

          What I’m pointing out is that with limited avenues of communication, the RMAH becomes nearly the only game in town.

          • Again, there really isn’t incentive for that sort of thing in WoW yet it is still used as the primary means of offloading excess gear and items.  I see no reason why it would be any different even if we had the open communications channels to do so.

          • You cannot compare Diablo 3 and WoW, because the primary source of itemization is completely different. The difference between BoP and BoE is intrinsic to how these AH’s will work. I see it as comparing apples to oranges.

            But again, I think you’re missing the issue at hand. Peer trading is still rampant in WoW, is it not? Don’t many people make gold offering their services in chat? In guilds? Etc? I’m not arguing that people should never use the RMAH. I’m also not arguing that the RMAH will not be used extensively if chat channels are allowed. What I AM doing is illuminating that the lack of communication avenues promotes RMAH (or GAH) use because it becomes your primary source for item buying.

            Perhaps you’d use the AH’s either way. Perhaps you wouldn’t. But without channels, it eliminates alternatives, and that’s all that matters.

          • The services most offer in chat are crafting services which are usually offered that way because they simply don’t have the mats to make it themselves.  Since the trade is really a matter of offering a service they are providing, there is no loss with respect to the AH.  No trade would have existed without the chat channel so nothing was lost.

            The idea that eliminating alternatives is a bit exaggerated.  Not having those alternatives does not inherently mean that those trades will otherwise end up on the AH.  Sure players trade within guild they can just as easily trade within their own group of friends.  Sure someone could try to trade something away in chat but lacking a chat channel they could just as easily sell it to a vendor.  I just don’t believe that lacking chat channels will mean we’ll see all of those potential peer trades move to the AH.  I also don’t believe that there really is a measurable number of peer trades as it is.  I’d estimate the number of AH trades probably trumps peer trades by a few orders of magnitude.

            A point that hasn’t been addressed is the economics of the relation of the GAH and RMAH.  If the item in question sells on the GAH then Blizzard doesn’t get money for it anyway so there is no impact on their wallets.  Even though gold has a RMAH value sales on the GAH do not directly translate to money for Blizzard.  The 15% GAH fee merely controls inflation which only impacts the size of G<->RM transactions and not the number of transactions which is where Blizzard gets their money.  So unless they eliminated the GAH as well, peer trades moving to the GAH still don’t affect Blizzard’s bottom line.

      • “All of X would be directly in your pocket.”

        Only if you found someone willing to pay X in the chat channel. The whole point of marketplaces is that they make it easier for consumers to find what they want and for sellers to find those customers to sell to. This is why ebay charges fees for their services: you’re advertising your items to a very wide audience, which should result in a higher sale price than if you just offered it to your neighbors and co-workers.

        The other side of it is that even if you can get X from selling it in a chat channel, it will probably take longer than if you just put it on the auction house. Time is money and all that. 
        So there are very good reasons for why you might like to use the auction house and you shouldn’t act like it’s a dead-weight loss to the economy: really it will increase efficiency and price finding dramatically.

        Note that I’m not defending Blizzard here: I think we should have chat channels, I’m just pointing out that lumping on the RMAH as if it doesn’t provide any useful service is quite wrong.

        • I don’t think I said anything about the AH not providing a useful service. I think I clearly stated that Y (the fees) may or may not be the premium you’d be willing to pay to use the service. The assumption that it is if you post. However, we are unable to compare one’s willingness to pay if there’s no viable alternative.
           
          We assume that you’re okay with Y, but how many of those people would opt to sell the item outside of the AH IF there was an alternative? How many of those people would be willing to help somebody with that item?
           
          This is the heart of the matter. Perhaps the former 2 are negligible. But again, the theory is not so much the heart of the essay as the conclusion is. I think I made it extremely clear with my reflection of the theory that I don’t think it’s entirely true (this is not a theory that I made up myself).

          • The reason you use the RMAH is to increase your customer base so you know you are getting as close to the max price you can sell it for, and are not getting cheated. Plus you’ll be able to more effectively evaluate the markets for similar style items with the AH.
            The reason you sell stocks on a market as opposed to person to person is that it’s a much more effective way to get the highest price because you will use the aggregate to isolate the true price. Person to person there’s a huge chance of getting swindled.
            I know I’d personally use the trade chat to find that person who has an awesome item, take it from them and sell it for more on the RMAH, because I’d be able to identify the arbitrage using the AH to evaluate a similar price.
            Also, to translate a trade from trade chat to RM on the RMAH involves an arbitrage of sorts gold->item->money. You can then find a further way to capitalize on the trade chat to potentially make more money on the AH.
            Point is to me it’s mutually reinforcing, maybe not for everybody, but for a lot.

  10. The communities will form due to the lack of a formalized chatroom within the game, but the convenience of the RMAH will be a thorn in its side (for the sake of trading), and Blizz surely knows this. And well, the communities will be here even if chat were included…
     
    That being said, I won’t personally mind the lack of chat channels, but I have dozens of friends playing the game, and even without them I’m okay going solo or joining random games. However I can understand how people are disappointed with the lack there-of.

    It’s hard to think Blizzard doesn’t have a very controlled and idealistic view of how they want the game, as a whole, to work; especially when a revenue stream is involved.

  11. I don’t think the RMAH theory quite makes sense. Gold is worth money to players, but is worth money to Blizzard only if players sell the gold (unless Blizzard itself sells gold, which they claim they won’t). If anything, eliminating the fees in player-to-player trading for gold would increase the amount of gold in the game and – potentially – on the RMAH.

  12. Does everybody seem to forget there is also a normal goldAH…?

  13. Well, I must agree, I’m gonna miss the armor show off ;/

  14. I’d think Blizzard would make this decision based on a real risk of revenue reduction instead of speculation. Do you think Blizzard had number crunchers find how much revenue they would lose if they implemented general chat? How would this even be accomplished?

    I’m not sure this conspiracy passes the sniff test.

    • I think you underestimate Blizzard Analysts and what their in-house economists will be “crunching” so to speak. The RMAH is an untested quantity, so you can be sure that they are creating economic models and running scenarios with a multitude of variables. Any professional economist will be looking for ways to monetize, incentivize, and promote the usage of a crucial money-making aspect of a game.

      You can’t leave losing an enormous profit margin to chance.

  15. I like the idea that it is to stop trading outside of the auction house because there really isn’t another reason. I don’t know how hard it would be to stop bots and spamming but that’s the only real reason to get rid of the channels. Also, playing SCII I’ll agree that even when my friends are in it never seems like a social experience and coordinating games outside of a friends list isn’t even possible.

  16. Blizzard used to focus on making great games, that’s what made them so successful, I believe they are thinking too hard about how to theoretically maximize profits now. It probably works shortterm but it will come back to bite them in the ass later on if they ruin the great reputation they have among PC gamers.
     
    Why change a winning concept? just focus on making awesome games and the money will come aswell.

  17. As sad as it sounds, Flux’ conclusions about how the community will suffer is not enitrely correct in my book. I remember old days when we played Quake 1. Back then we had a very healthy community, that simply used other types of media to communicate – namely IRC. My point being that if we needed to communicate, we found a way.

    Ofcourse, it’s a bit of a standard these days for mmo’s and other online games/whatnot to have built in irc style chat systems, but as I said, if D3 is good enough the community will adapt and find ways to communicate no matter what the ingame limits are.

    Another fact is that there will be plenty of lone wolves out there that will play and pay up in the RMAH without ever being part of any community.

    As I see it, the RMAH will not be that big of a deal for alot of players, but for a few, it will be a home visited quite often. I know I wont tho… I play a game to get my drops myself, and my real life cash would never be spent on digital stats and images. Ofcourse I wouldnt mind if someone else paid me some for it 🙂

    • Don’t blame Flux, blame me. This is my editorial 😉

      But ponder me this, eldeorn. We WILL make our own avenues for communication. But should Blizzard force us to do so? Chat channels were in and working half a year ago. This game is supposed to rally around its community, fostering a co-operative design.

      At this day in age, it is bad game design to limit community communication. So why did they remove the feature?

      I’ve yet to come across a compelling alternative explanation, which is why I chose this one to analyze.

  18. Thx Nizaris for this article. Hope Blizz ll see their mistake…
    In SC2 whole in-game community (not counting e-sport) is “gl&hf – gg” -_-

  19. Blizzard does what is good for Blizzard to make money. You think they really care about what players want in D3 ? As long as the money comes rolling in they could care less. They are horrible at dealing with community issues.

  20. ‘Sole-mate’..? Really?

    • Yep, I know a few couples who have met through gaming.

    • If you are implying what I think you are, there are literally hundreds of people who met through WoW, sizeable percentage of those even got married. So, yes, you can meet someone and fall in love while playing a game. It is a terribly rare occurence, of course, I am by no means implying such a thing is a common sight.

      • A sole is the bottom of one’s foot or shoe; as both are generally found in pairs, they’ll almost always have a mate. A soul, on the other hand, is not actually a thing.. but if they were, one soul might have affinity towards another soul — a ‘soul mate’, so to speak.

    • Now I’m not sure what’s funnier, the original mistake or that people haven’t caught it. lol!

      • Well, I always try and find somebody of my same shoe-size when I enter a game. So I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

  21. Problem is, that their money stream depends on community. Diablo 3 isn’t e-sport game like SC2. Without place to show your new gear or meet new ppl D3 community ll die rly fast. I dont see any sense in playing D3 more then 2-3 months, if i dont have many diablofans realID friends.

  22. You can still show off your stuff in public games and pvp. Im sure they’ll implement a wow-like armory too.
     

  23. I do think this article may be exaggerating things. Saying that because there are no chat channels, Diablo community won’t form is quite an assumption. After all, Diablo 3 hasn’t even been released yet, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of communities based around it, this being one of them. 

    Secondly, I do agree with one of the posters before me, lack of chat channels does not give any guarantee that any significant percentage of trades that otherwise would have avoided AH are going to end up on the AH. (RMAH and oft forgotten Gold AH). Ultimatly this problem, similiarly to pirating issue that is so hot around the world right not (and while we, or at least I, am on the subject, STOP ACTA), is an issue of services offered by both Blizzard and services offered by sellers trying to avoid AH. The reason why shady sites were so popular in D2 is because, there were no \legal\ ways of trading items. The devs simply didn’t include that in the game. And, becasue of the lack of official network pirates took over, offering too-good-to-be-true deals on their sites. However, Blizzard has officialy, for the lack of better word, \pwned\ sellers and re-sellers of items. RMAH is a service that Blizzard provides that offers safe buying and selling of items through the game itself. When opposed to that, the before-mentioned sites, sound much less appealing. 

    Yes, I am for chat, and for \power to the people\. And it is a bad thing that general chat is gone. However, tying to my previous point, if people are really so deperate to go on a less convienent, less safe way just to avoid official channels, there are still three types of chat left in the game, in-game chat, friends/real ID chat and private chat channels. As always, human perservance will find a way to sell channels while avoiding the middle man.

    EDIT: TL;DR Disregard everything, chat will be in.

  24. https://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/4015205370?page=11#210

    Bashiok was wrong. There are/will be  open chat channels.

  25. They r just awesome 😉

    Bashiok: Soooooo… hey everyone. How’s it going? Good? Weather ok? Great… so, right… You know how sometimes you say something that’s stupid and wrong and then people very reasonably get upset and create a lot of threads and discussions and demands with some pretty reasonable reasons for the thing you said wouldn’t happen but then it turns out that you’re stupid and wrong and the things you said are completely the opposite of what’s actually true?

    Yeah. So that happened. Public chat channels will be in Diablo III, barring any catastrophe that requires we remove them, because they’re already implemented. In fact they’ll be in an upcoming beta patch so you’ll get to see and play around with them yourselves.

    I’m not sure I can offer any explanation as to the incorrectness of my statements, except that I believed them to be correct when I made them. I apologize, and I’ll strive to not be stupid and wrong in the future.

    More info on the chat feature, and others, to come in the weeks ahead. Thanks for sticking with it, and me. – Bashiok

  26. Silly Bashiok, talking about stuff he knows nothing about.

  27. I’m so glad to see this update! I read the original article at work on my phone (through twitter) and was really sad that they had no plans of putting the public chat back in. For some reason I always assumed it was going to be there. And now it will be! Yayz!  That is all.   😀

  28. Hah. I’m so glad I didn’t care enough about this issue that I had to create threads and long posts detailing out “why I’m right and Blizzard is wrong” only to find out it’s a non-issue.
     
    The UPDATE is incorrect though. OP says “Chat will be in. Good job everybody! I guess this also gives Blizzard the ability to say “see, we listen.” And in this case, they chose something very potent to listen to their fans on.” It’s not that they listened to their fans and “good job” to us. It was just one person saying something that wasn’t accurate. The only thing they “listen[ed] to their fans on” was to correct the misstatement. Go fans! 🙄
     
    I think this sort of proves that a whole bunch of us have been waiting a whole lot of time and are super-crazy-awesome excited for this game to be released and feel personally responsible to help Blizzard 24/7 by yelling at what they do wrong. Keep up the good work Blizz. Get some rest Bashiok, all you at B are probably underslept by now.
     
    -Aurus

  29. I for one am shocked that blizzard decided to leave out the chat channels something so crucial to the gaming experience .. we like to play online because of the ability to communicate, link up with different people from different countries, I used to spend more time sitting in Diablo II EU GBR-1 chatting random stuff to random people more than i used to spend item hunting(mfing) or lvling(cowrunning etc) it was a quintessential part of the Diablo experience and for Diablo to miss this out or remove it on purpose is a really sad day and negative blow to what is building to be one of the biggest games ever Seriously gutted 🙁 Wilfy GBR-1  😡

  30. just read Bashioks statement change! public chat channels are in 😀 hahaha so quick ur mood can turn around

    wooooohooooo!

    any old GBR-1 crew out there? look for us on facebook!

  31. Has anyone considered that there might not be a reason for the removal of chat other then Blizzard being just plain wrong and stupid?
    There are countless examples of big supposedly smart and professional companies that make glaring mistakes obvious to even the most dimwitted moron. And then the big company goes down the shitter to everybodies surprise (not) and obvious mistakes will be regretted like they always will. I think removing chat is just one in a loooong list of obvious mistakes Blizzard is currently making.
    Nothing ever changes.

  32. You know what would be spectacular?
    An in-game lobby/hub system.
    The great thing about WoW was that I was able to chill in IF and show off all the epic lewt I got. I spent the better part of the day /dance’ing – getting all the epeentention of the lowbies and other end game raiders. I also enjoyed coming out of arenas on my 2300 rated rogue (yes, I’m bragging) and flaunting at the opponent I just demolished(who, if by chance, queued at the same location I have)… I’m sure many a WoW player would understand this feeling. It’s like this article says, people want to show off.

    IMO, Blizz should seriously consider a lobby where people can just hang out… maybe a lobby the size of ~200 people… unlocked after completing inferno? Here players would have access to auction houses, queue for pvp (arenas, etc.), crafting, etc.
    I mean, chat systems are so 90’s. Immersion into the game world was where WoW succeeded – and what DIII does not currently support.

  33. Public chat will be cool, a little too old school for my taste, but what ev, it works for this game. I can’t wait to see the hordes of spammers that follow!

  34. Moral of the story:  B.net 2.0 sucks compared to the original B.net.

  35. And I’ll get to test it when it goes live. Hooray for beta!! 😀

  36. Since it’s fun to conspiracy theory, how about this? Things were as Bashiok said a few days ago; no plans for public d3 chat, just like SC2. And then the issue came up, thousands of angry posters demanded proper chat channels for D3, and the higher ups were like, “Great, another nerdageddon over one of our terrible B.net policies. We don’t want to admit their rage broke us though, so you know what, Micah? Here’s why you get the big bucks. Go say it was your error and that D3 had public chat channels all along that you somehow didn’t know about, even though they were set to debut in a beta patch.kthxbye.”

    I don’t think this is really worth debating, since it doesn’t matter and we’ll never find out the truth, but two points of evidence.

    1) that it took several days for the “correction.” If Bashiok had just been wrong on a planned feature, wouldn’t they have told us before there were 50 page threads raging about it? 

    2) The overly wordy style of his explanation. He’s misstated features several times in the past (inevitable when he’s talking about a game that’s in constant development) and the corrections have always been, “Oh my info was out of date. Sorry.” This one is a whole song and dance, as though it was a little too planned out.

    Also, this tinfoil hat is pretty comfortable, once I got the sweat band adjusted properly.

    • Also, i hear Bashiok was seen near the grassy knoll back in the 60’s…   If they actually did that then they’re idiots… it makes them look like they’re all herp-derp, we have no clue what we’re doing, and it would have been better just to say ‘We didn’t know you guys loved general chat so much, we’re putting it back just because we care so much about your wishes’.

    • SC2 does have public chat, it just sucks.
       
      D3 will most likely be using the same exact system so I wouldn’t be celebrating to much just yet.

      • No, I very much doubt it. Based on how it was implemented last year, it takes up the full part of the character UI when you have it open. (You’d press the chat lobby button like in the picture)

        • So they reskinned it?  I’m talking about the mechanics and coding behind the UI.  The size of the chat interface says nothing to the lobby limits nor the number of channels you can create.  Unless they plan on radically updating the SC2 chat system it’s just a nicer UI for a very limited chat feature.

  37. First good news about the game in a long while. Blizzard don’t get any bonus points from me for doing something stupid and then correcting it however. Keep the good news coming while you’re on a roll Blizz and I may award you some bonus points in the near future 8)

    Blizzards current bonus score: -69

    • I think you missed something. There never was a removed Chat client. It wasn’t added back in because it was never taken out. The only person involved was Bashiok.
       
      -Aurus

      • I don’t know how people can still take everything Blizzard CM’s say as the whole truth. We’ll never know the whole truth, your guess is as good as mine but my guess is as good as yours aswell.

  38. bashiok.. ur a joke

    btw a post from the first page made me realise: FACE TO FACE TRADING TAKES MORE TIME BUT YOU SAVE THE AH-BOBBY-TAX (20++ %)

  39. Bah conspiracy theories aside, he made a mistake giving out false info, now he gives an apology for that.
    Apology: Accepted!

    I’m just glad this is not yet another axed feature, I liked chat channels in SC:BW and D2 and it’s an basic feature that shouldn’t even be considered to be axed in the first place imho.

  40. Sorry.. I meant you Nizaris (please forgive me Flux) 😉 Yeah, no doubt does it feel quite wrong to not include something that could and should be included, just because they have some other ($$$) agenda interfering with it.

    Assuming what you say is true about their business model – and it sounds perfectly logical – it would be quite ballsy to actually implement a public chat thing anyways later on and then see if it works. That would gain some more respect I think, at least from me.

    One thing is for sure though… moderating public channels is a royal pain in the *bleep*. The default channels in D2 was infected with spam of all sorts, and I believe it will be the same once again.

  41. This whole thing stinks for some reason.  I can’t help but think this was some kind of setup.  Leaving out chat channels is just so over the top silly I can’t help but think they left them out specifically so they could put them back in and say “See?  We do listen to you guys.”

    • Yeah, except that they already left them out once with SC2… which is why everyone reacted so vehemently…

    • I think you missed something. There never was a removed Chat client. It wasn’t added back in because it was never taken out. The only person involved was Bashiok.
       
      -Aurus

      • I would be happy to accept that had we simply been told ‘no they aren’t in’ at this time and then ‘I misremembered’ when he corrected himself.

        It’s hard to attribute this to simple misremembering when there are explanations from small one liners like “The good is minuscule compared to the bad, and we have to actually support these things…” and “They’re in there right now. Unless people are expecting general open channels? We’ve consistently said we won’t have those.” to much longer explanation as Flux pointed out in his news item from the other day.

        I think it’s a combination of the two – misremembering (read uninformed) and glossing over.  I think it was seriously discussed and absolutely or tentatively (as is often the case in game development) that open chat capabilities wouldn’t be enabled in the chat services.  Bashiok was aware of this and this was his current knowledge and he responded likewise.  Either at that point Blizzard devs backtracked and said ‘sod it, let’s enable open chat capabilities too because this is going down like a ton of bricks’ or they had changed their mind since Bashiok had been in the loop on it and hadn’t told him they were already going to be back in.

        It’s hard to misremember an entire decision process if it never happened at all.  I don’t think Bashiok was at fault, I think he’s taken one for the team here.

         

  42. Well, they are not completely insane I guess. Let’s fix Starcraft next.

  43. Before everyone gets to excited, in all likelihood they are just giving D3 the same chat system as SC2, which isn’t that great.  The only thing I’d like to see in this system is the ability to have cross game chats in the channel, at least between SC2 and D3 since WoW doesn’t use the B.net 2 system for chatting outside of RealID.

  44. Why does nobody seem to acknowledge that, even in Bashiok’s flawed initial statement, he said they were going to have chat in the game and he was simply uncertain if it would make initial release? Why isn’t “they need the time to focus on developing other game systems instead of programming and testing a reasonable chat system” on the top of the list of your options?

    I know this is moot now, but people’s tendency to jump on “tin foil hat” theories is baffling.

    • Hmm. I think we’re reading two different statements, because the what I’m reading it is that general chat was just a no, and private chat as a possibility, but probably not at ship. Because “there’s far more negatives than positives.”

  45. I do wonder though in many other professional companies a PR rep making communication mistakes of this kind this many times will result in that person getting fired, so how come Bashiok isn’t yet?

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