Diablo 3’s Real Money Auction House Issues

A newish article from the International Business Times takes an odd point of view with its titular query:

Who’s to Blame for ‘Diablo 3’s’ Auction House?

Gamers usually sneer at anything that lets players circumvent in-game character building with real-world money. They especially dislike it when money can be used to create a competitive advantage in online games. Diablo is all about the loot, and online mutliplayer is extremely popular. A player who spends enough money can deck out their character with some serious gear. That upsets plenty of cashed-strapped gamers.

The philosophy is that games are a means of escaping the real world. If someone with a higher-paying job is “better” than you, they will have to put in the same amount of time as anyone else to beat you in a video game. However, when developers let real-life money affect the game world, that sense of digital equality is destroyed.

The article more or less assumes that no one likes RMT or the D3 DiabloWikiRMAH, but that Blizzard can’t be “blamed” for it since it’s just responding to the fact that players were out spending real money on items anyway. It’s also a bit sloppy in not clarifying the differences between cash item shop style “pay to win” games, and the way that D3 is simply expediting player to player trading, for gold or real money.

The irony, if you can call it that, is that while opinions remain divided and we’ve debated it frequently, the majority of you guys are not opposed to real money trading or the RMAH. We’ve run votes on the issue of RMT and the D3 AH, and in both cases those who opposed the D3 system were far from the majority.

Send for a rewrite! “Who’s to Thank for ‘Diablo 3’s’ Auction House?”

Elsewhere, an article on Kotaku Oz points out a trickier aspect of the RMAH… it might be illegal, at least in Korea. The news is about a PS3 role-playing game called Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. It’s a children’s game; nothing violent or sexual, and it received an all ages rating in Japan. In Korea things are different. It’s been slapped with an 18-and-up rating, simply because one area of the game takes place in a casino, where players can hit the slots and roulette wheel and such. Apparently just for in-game gold; nothing with any real life application, but that’s how seriously the Korean game rating authorities take gambling.

Which is a problem for Diablo III, since by enabling an in-game, real-money item trading, Blizzard is essentially turning Diablo III into a slot machine with a potential real money payoff. We saw news on this back in September, when it seemed that Blizzard would have to remove the RMAH feature entirely to release D3 in Korea. We’ve not seen any news about it since, but the issue certainly hasn’t gone away.

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54 thoughts on “Diablo 3’s Real Money Auction House Issues

  1. Even if they take out RMAH, the battle field is still essentially like the casino in that PS3 game, where u push a button/ slot which is presented as a monster in D3, and u may get a reward out of it, or might not, depending on ur luck, much like gambling. Then u can sell it for in-game money, again, like that PS3 game. If they can say ok to that and that is not gambling, then the argument against RMAH seems to be weaker.

    • Law is not that simple. If you argued like that you could also argue that any MMO is a casino since mob drops are (to an extend) random and can yield very valuable items if you are lucky, so WoW, Aion etc. should be 18+ in Korea and as far as I’m aware, they are not. The definition is much more… “narrow” than that.
      Laws have rather strict and not in all cases intuitive definition as what constitutes gambling, here’s the US definition of gambling:
      “A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”
      If you now say “ah, I get it”, check this: stock market trading does not count as gambling even though it appears to fulfill all the required points, but it is in fact not a game of chance. In Diablo’s case, you can’t really say that someone takes a risk by killing a mob, you don’t spend money (ingame or not) to be able to fight creatures, so under that definition it is not gambling.
      PS: Does anyone know if D2 with it’s gambling game (Gheed) was available in Korea?

      • The problem was not virtual pseudo-gambling, it was virtual actual gambling. Having the game have a virtual casino with virtual roulette tables and slots was clearly too much.

        It’s perhaps a better question to ask if Pokemon was banned in Korea :P.

        The big difference with the stock market (as I’m sure you know, based on your post), is that when you buy $1000 worth of stock, you now own $1000 worth of stock, even if that prices changes tomorrow. You are buying something, instead of staking something.

  2. I never bought Items in D2, “never” even traded items since I thought it was an unfair advantage. 
    D3 takes this to the next level, and that sux (imo). If I was the one to decide. All high-end items should be soulbound to your acc the moment you pick them up (with an alternative to trade with the party you are in at that moment). 

    Sure free trade on all other stuff but NOT the best of the best. Atleast that my opinion.   🙄

    • The problem with “best” in Diablo is a bit bigger then in any other online game, mostly couse the “best” gear in other games comes with fixed stats from certain enemies, while in Diablo there is so much randomness that even when you CAN trade items, the amount of the uber items with the best rolls on the best stats will be VERY small, if you added soulbinding to the game, theres a huge chance ( like 99.XX% ) that most of the players would never even SEE the “best” items.

      A lot of people will play Hardcore ( me included at some point ) where there is no RMAH so the only way to get the best gear off the AH would be with gold ( you could debate how “pro” getting gold is, since you’re only required to grind stuff and every newb and their grandmom can do it ), and I’m pretty sure there will be people who decide  NOT to use the AH at all, which is their loss, couse its easy to use and saves a lot of time, and since we can sell gold in D3, Time IS money :).

    • don’t play HC with the expectation of it being pure. it won’t be. third-party sites like d2jsp will still exist, and ppl will still be able to buy hc items with real money. real-money trading won’t ever stop until bliz makes items soulbound, which isn’t happening.

    • I don’t know if you have ever played the previous Diablo games but don’t you think BOP or even BOE is a little “WoWish” for a game of this nature? Diablo in its entirety is not only a game of bashing and killing tons of demons and monsters but it is also a game of trading. Taking this into consideration any BOE or BOP items will not be doing this game justice. We want a variety of the same item so trading is fully utilized. As far as the RMAH goes I feel that it was the best thing for the game. A lot of people in Diablo 2 in its later stages were utilizing third party gaming sites to get their items. Weren’t you sick of joining a game and having random people come in with advertisements? The RMAH virtually fixes these problems. I’m sure Blizzard would’ve rather only used gold but times are changing and they must adapt.

    • I hate the idea of RMAH, the very thought of it.

      There needs to be an auction house in D3 that much is for sure, because the D2 trading system sucked so bad, but using real money?

      Come on, Blizzard are even taking Money off people to even list an item. Even if the item does not sell you need to pay them money.

  3. Buying Items with real money was largely present in d2, and it will be in d3 regardless of if there is a RMAH present or not.

    So it only makes sense for blizzard to take it over to provide a secure way to buy/sell if people want to do that sort of thing.

    • theres always 2 sides to that argument tbh. i think most of us can agree buying with real money in D2 is not a “right thing to do”, but it still happens nonetheless. Is jus like drugs, is not right, but ppl still do it. What blizzard is doing atm is “legalize” the process while gaining from it, much like if your gov says” since i know u dudes take drugs anyways, we might as well start doing the business for u guys to buy from, and we get some benifit everytime one of u dudes buy some.” Maybe you dont see a problem with that, but i kinda do…….

      • Why do you care if someone else buys items (or drugs)? How exactly does it impact your life or enjoyment of the game? Nobody really cares if you’re the “best”.

        As with drugs, “legalization” of the buying/selling of items isn’t a vote for approval of the activity… it’s a method of protecting it. Your analogy is good but in both cases, the activity will happen regardless but only rulebreakers will benefit. By providing a method of exchange, the activity becomes safer for everyone involved and evens the playing field.

        If you outlaw something, only outlaws will have it.

        • Heh, i dont really care, as i indicate somewhere below……. jus presenting a second side of the argument. To some, obviously they care and even though buying items probly does less harm than taking drugs in real life, it is still a negative activity. The view is if u cant stop the activity, at least dont try to support it, or in this case “protect it” as you word it. They would really love to see blizzard work on stopping the activity altogether, a fool’s hope maybe, but better than being told is better if blizzard just do it instead, to protect it.
          Might not be on topic but since u brought it up….. someone else taking drug does impact our life, and anyone in the community. more ppl taking drug means a less stable and unsafe environment, as drug tends to mess up one’s reasoning and prone to act in unpredictable manners. At least i know i care for if ppl take drugs in real life more than if ppl spend money buying items in D3, from blizzard or 3rd party.

  4. They didn’t even mention Hardcore mode for Diablo III, where the RMAH is nonexistent and is perfect for haters.

  5. They missed the fact that you don’t have to put any real money into the game to be able to use it. Free auctions every month will make sure even poor people will be able to use the RMAH effectively without spending a penny. If you put some effort in it, you should even be able to make some real cash. Seriously, poor people should be happy.

    • should they? they now have to decide whether they want to pay their gas/electricity/food/.. bills or if they want to be strong in D3.
      this problem also exists for people who really try to spend money only on necessairy stuff so they (for example) can work fewer hours, buy holidays with family, or give the money they dont need to make the world a better place (donating to get dying people food and meds/campains to make people realise what sh_it is going on…)

      • it is much easier to decide than you think tho. We make that kind of choice everyday, the poor ppl. You can decide if you wanna eat decently for the next 1 month, or u starve yourself and buy some branded stuff. Those stuff exist, but doesnt mean if you dont buy it, u cant be in this world, or live perfectly fine. RMAH exists, but anyone can play D3 perfectly without it. I played D2 single player all the way thru, without any trading or buying or modding, no need to compare to others’ digital p***s, for past 11 years. For me, there dont exist a dilemma, and im sure a majority will agree with me.

        • the problem isnt the difficulty of the decision what they want to spend their money on. the problem is that the decision exists. the problem is that their game is less fun because their poorness makes them feel bad about 1. not having money because they “spent” it on items (by not selling them) or 2. if they sell them: their chars being weak.
          and i think that just a very small percentage is like “i dont care! i trade my items for food yay! np, because im here just to enjoy the battels and story and atmosphere.. and i dont care if i am weak as shi ”
          btw: even if this person had np with all this his friends would still dont want to play with him bacause he is useless. + maybe he even will never see the challanges of inferno..

          • Anybody with even an iota of common sense would see that dealing with real life takes precedence over a shiny item in Diablo.  Just because you have the option of taking a shortcut to get the gear doesn’t mean you’re going to be horrible if you don’t take the shortcut.  Time = Money, some people will spend time for gear and some will spend money, in the end you both get to around the same level.  I’m choosing to spend time for my gear, if somebody chooses to spend money who exactly am I to say they can’t?  It’s their money.  If they are so stupid that they can’t figure out eating is more important than that new sword then let them starve like the idiots they are.

          • i think you misunderstood me.
            if not then you are saying that i am right and that poor people have to decide whether they want food or items and you add to my thoughts that its not a real choice and that every poor D3 player will sell his/her items.
            – you dont have to take the shortcut; but if your mindset is like mine then you will feel bad im some rich kid out-killspeeds you
            – time is money: yes, but 1 h work (= earning 10 $ ++) is 1 very good item, which would have taken you i guess at least a day/week/??? to find yourself
            – both will be on the same level: i bet for 100 $ you will get better equipt than a person that plays 3 h a day. => kid spends christmas money on items -> pwns me

  6. Just put some life-long-stain system in place where character that ever touched RMAH item would be marked forever. And why would you care for \someone being better than you\ if you play Softcore anyway? Kids’ talk, honestly..  😉

      • you become one of the best when you fight the game without ever dying. This is when people will start to appreciate your efforts, knowledge & skills. So – no RMAH, only 1 chance = Hardcore.

        • maybe i dont want to play a game where i die once and all i’v worked for is gone?
          maybe my goal is the highest possible killspeed (which conterdicts HC since you cant put every point in dmg there)?

          • Ok, would someone get that same joy of being #1 if he bought all his gear? Wouldn’t he get bored playing the game in an hour? It’s the same as playing with cheatcodes..

  7. 27 + 17 + 8 = 52 %
    52 % dont like the AH. THATS the mayority
    note that AH isnt the same thing as RMAH: im sure RMAH is disliked more than the whole AH together (since i dont know waht someone could say against AH in general. unless he likes to haggle with people per chat)
    How do you feel about the D3 Auction House?
    1) Like it alot. (37%, 1,665 Votes)
    2) Like it except for the RMT. (27%, 1,241 Votes)
    5) Hate it. Especially the RMT. (17%, 763 Votes)
    3) Not sure/no opinion. (11%, 519 Votes)
    4) Don’t want, but it’s not a biggie. (8%, 330 Votes)
    Total Voters: 4,518

    • 17 + 11 + 8 = 36%. I’m not sure why you added the 27 instead of the 11… those 27% were in favor of the AH (except RMT).

    • Flux does cryptic shady Poll awnsers all the time … -wherein each poll awnser can be layed out in different ways or is based on “wishthinking” or assumptions – big news …. eg.
      2). It’s okay. Time is money. So long as the $ doesn’t guarantee an insurmountable advantage.

      oh an insourmountable advantage – first of all what is an insurmountable advantage hard to say if the game is not even out …
      – second. we dont know wether or not it gives player an “insurmountable” advantage over others – but if it did wouldnt that mean that all those Votes become invalid ? – arent they invalid from the get go ? – given that they are based on vague predictions or bound to conditions we dont yet know ? –
      sorry flux but most of your awnsers you put up just suck – have you heard of simplicity for the sake of clarity ?

    • omg i m sry… i cant edit anymore.. i ment “52 % dont like the RRRRRRMMMMMMMM AH. THATS the mayority”

  8. I know this pisses off people for this very reason, but the idea that I can drop $5 on something that would of taken me forever to get sounds very appealing. Maybe I am just getting old, but once I couldn’t play WoW 8 hours a day, it felt a little annoying to get pwned to death by people who could put in that time. I never used the 3rd party sites because, yeah, they were way shady. But bringing in a blizz regulated version of it, is appealing to me.

    Love it or hate it, this is the age of the micro-transaction freemium.

    But yeah, like what WhiteGiant said, it would be cool to buy something with D3 RMAH money. If only for the novelty of it. We have all heard the “you play that game too much” grief from our significant others… it would be great to take them out to dinner and then drop the truth that it was paid for by D3. BAM. 😆

  9. Kudos to Flux for writing a RMAH article with a neutral tone. I’ve criticized your approach in the past, but I do appreciate how you handled it here.

  10. Some people have more time than money (teens), and some have more money than time (full time working adults). The argument that a RMAH is unfair is stupid because without a RMAH, people who have more time are at an advantage.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of magic finding. I’ll enjoy playing the story and PvP. I’d much rather spending my time furthering my career and making a living instead of spending hours looking for an ok item when I could just give someone a few dollars for the item I am looking for.

    • People who don’t have free time, don’t play video games.

      My prediction: The busy folks with all of their real life riches are not going to get a huge advantage over the school kids. How much do you think it’s going to cost for a fully geared A++ character? 50$? Any kid who can afford a PC, a Diablo 3 copy and internet can also afford a killer character even if it’s from his mom’s pocket.
      Bottom line is… if you wanna be good at this game, you need the time to freaking play it.

  11. I think AH is a very good thing! People should see it as a way to centralize trading. In d2 to be able to trade object, you have to create or join a public game see all individuals to find what you need or find some one who want what you have to sell. First, this way of trading is very painful and a long process. Second, this created a very bad side effect in d2, ingame money worth virtually nothing, in d2 trading is more like doing barter. This is the way trading was done in the middle age. So the AH makes the ingame money in d3 worth something and it makes trading a lot more convenient, efficient and accessible. It also makes trading a lot more fair for every one, since every one see all the objects and every one can buy or sell virtually everything at any given moment. Also, you can compare values with other objects in the AH. Finally AH allows you to trade for a commune measurable good, money, witch is better then evaluate value of object with other not equivalent object (like the sog in d2).

    Another thing is that AH doesn’t create additional objects, the amount of objecst in the game will still the same with or with out the AH. So rare item will still rare item heaven with a HA. So if on the server the beast h1 sword has dropped 3 time yet, only 3 person will be able to have it. So we can assume that the person that have those sword will not be welling to trade it, or if they do so, they will do it for a very considerable amount of ingame money. Also, this argumentation still true for RMAH. Since is the same system but with real currency instead of ingame currency. So no additional value will be create by real money. But, my only concern regarding RMAH (and it’s a big one) is that very rare and powerfully object could and probably will be only be available in the RMAH. So that will potentially create a type of elite player that will be elite because they spend real money on the game.

    This is, in my opinion, the real issue. AH will only give a fair and healthy economies for every one, so having a AH or not should not be a debate. But having 2 separate AH system, one with RM and one with in game currency, this is something that we should debate and ask blizzard what is there tought on the issue I point out there. I understand why they do so, to secure the real money transaction that will exist any way. But is a legitimate question to ask, what they plans to do to make the AH as useful and fair for every type of auction house user (RM and game currency AH). Especially for end game object, considering that good rare end game object will very probably be only available in RMAH.

    P.S: I hope my argumentation is clear and make seance. Sorry if my English is not very good, I’m a french speaking person.

  12. ” it since it’s just responding to the fact that players were out spending real money on items anyway”

    oh, come on. anyone who falls for that must be a retard. its obvious where blizzard wants to get at this. they want continued revenue, like wow. they devised a way for sc2 already, and the rmah is the way for d3. i can safely say even if there werent item selling sites for d2 there would be a rmah for d3

  13. A lot of people dont know or forget that Diablo has a matchmaking system. People buy what they like but they will go against others of similar item strengths. There is no advantage over the legit player

    • Technically the buyers will be at a disadvantage (at lest to start with), why because they hadn’t learnt how to be effective with weaker items = the item hunter will generally be more skilled.

  14. Let me demonstrate how RMT will affect the Diablo 3 gameplay.

    You join a game. There’s two well deck-out wizard that may or may not have bought items from the auction house. You won’t know unless you ask. You go through the dungeon and have/do not have fun.

    The real impact will be personal. At one point you’ll look at someone well geared and wish you could have good gear like them. You’ll have to consider buying from the auction house or just playing normally. It all comes down to you. Do you use it, or do you leave it?

    • u can also use it, and lie and say u didnt……… so sooner or later all the ppl who has awesome gears will be called a RMAH user, no matter how they came by the item.

  15. I’m telling you, Blizz must MARK and distinguish every character that ever touched RMAH items. Let “legit” players choose if RMAH-equipped character can join their game, chat and so on.. And surely a separate ladder of RMAH-free characters

    • That’s never gonna happen, marking RMAH users with a star of david like the Nazi’s did isn’t going to solve a damn thing. There is a real money and gold auction house. Therefore there will be a conversion rate between the two.

      Maybe you’ve never used your credit card to add money from your bank account to the RMAH and generally use the gold auction house, but browsing around you find an item you want on the RMAH. So you take your high quantities of gold and trade it for “real money” ie. “Blizzrd Bucks” and use that to buy the item off the RMAH. What now? You just became evil for using the RMAH even though all the currency (blizz bucks and gold) was earned from your in game activities.

      Think about it this way. If you played D2 and got “rich” with items from playing the game a lot and trading or whatever, the items you have in game have a value. The same story will be true in D3. You’ll start out with nothing, and as you find items and trade, you’ll get “rich” with these virtual items. Blizzard is now just leaving it up to you which currency you want to use in trading.

      You’d be a fool to say “I’ll never ever use the RMAH!!1 *rage pout*” If you only use the gold AH, the gold can be traded for real money. So there is no difference at all. Either way it’s generated from what you’ve found in game. It would be entirely different however if you vowed not to ever transfer money from your bank account or credit card to your blizzard account.

      But even still, I think there is no reason to segregate between people that would rather pay for the items that will allow them to enjoy the game and people who pride themselves on not having to pay to have fun. It comes down to the abundance of time vs. the abundance of money.. like has been brought up in all RMAH debates. And just as Mr_Bartuc reminds us, the PVP is going to have a ranking system in the background so you won’t have an unfair advantage for buy items. It’ll be about skill level, not “Money = Win = Bragging Rights”

      And this was gonna be a quick response – why does this always happen to me? 😕

      • Thanks Brinelious, you do make a point here. I wasn’t aware of the possibility of buying Blizz Bucks with gold in which case marking system wouldn’t work of course. Then I see no other option but to play hardcore if you are after fair game plus you will join a world with like-minded people who are very different from those who play softcore.
        So RMAH is  for them, not us. And maybe for them it is a very right thing.

        • or u can, like me, play only private games on softcore. probly with real-life frens. Then there will be no winning, bragging, or even comparing. diablo is fun even when u dont try to compare digital p***s size.

        • There ya go. Everyone that complains and hates the RMAH can just play hardcore.. problem solved. If they say “but my character dying forever is scary and not fun!!1 😥 ” then I say to them, you’re not as hardcore as you think you are and you can deal with the RMAH like the rest of softcore. Plus no one is forcing you to use RMAH, if you’re that against it on principle.. then use the gold AH.

  16. I think the RMAH is an awesome Idea, I am so freaking excited for this game, 

    I never got really powerful in d2, because I hated grinding out hours and hours and hours of repetitious boss runs; my brother actually got a bot at one stage, and finally got some awesome gear.

    but the thing did like 100 runs of meph or pindle an hour or something crazy like that. 

    anyway back on track… the two most important things here are 1: in d3 champion monsters are going to provide the best gear which means no more runs.

    And 2: RMAH allows even thoses of us that don’t have time to do runs,  or perhaps want something to just give our characters that little bit of an edge over our current gear we don’t have to burn through gold which we also need.

    I very happy to drop a couple of dollars here and there, I personally aren’t going to jump into the AH before getting a pretty serious understanding of the game, and I prob’s won’t touch the RMAH before I have a couple characters in Inferno.

    but the one beef I do have with RMAH is that every one is complaining because Blizz is taking a slice of the pie…

    I work at the Casino in Sydney; and I constantly hear players complain the odds on games should be better “because the casino already makes enough money”

    this is the same thing people have been saying about Blizzard… they are going to make milllions on the box sales alone this is just them being greedy


    Blizzard is investing ALOT of money into the development of this game, and into the future of this game. AS A BUSINESS IT IS THEIR JOB TO MAKE MONEY FROM THE GAME!!!


    gah makes me so annoyed when people say that…  micro transactions allow for continued income after initial box sales.

    You don’t have to use it, but as a business that is something they have to think about.

    /rant over haha sorry about that.

  17. I probly wont sell uber awesome items on RMAH. there is nothing that is useful that i wont use, and if it is not useful, whats the point? everyone can have 10 characters to equip, i doubt it will be very soon before i can fully equip all 10. After that if i do get multiple of the said uber items, ill giv it to my frens for free. Thus, i dont see how i will hav anything worth much to put on RMAH in the first 2 years. After that there’ll be expansion etc and god knows what will happen…… I suspect it will be the same for most ppl, so those who thinks they can spend money to get awesome, they wont be getting far, unless blizz dont crack down on bots………

  18. There is a HUGE difference between a cash shop organised by the developers and the player driven real money auction house of D3.

    Which difference? The possibility to SELL from one player to another.

    The prospect of not only earning some dollars or cents on an item is one thing …

    But being able to SEE how much your new epic loot is actually worth in Real Life will be a little revolution in rpg video games.

    Not even talking about getting a new … Jeans by selling that very rare pants in game.

    Complainers are simply too dumb to see this will take the industry by storm.

    It could be the end of subscription based games AND those terrible designer’s cash shops in so called free to play games.

    I applaud it as a stroke of genious (probably coming from Rob Pardo).

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