A brand new preview of Diablo III is up in today’s New York Times. The author of the piece stopped by Blizzard Irvine and played for an hour, and in a refreshing change from most mainstream media coverage, he’s both enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the game.

    The article gives a general introduction to the game (necessary for the mainstream readers) before delving into the complexities of the item hunt. There are a few short quotes from Jay Wilson, and for a couple of tantalizing paragraphs, it seems like the preview is about to break big news by announcing a Diablo III DiabloWikiAuction House… but it doesn’t. It just sets up all the reasons there should be such an ebay-like item exchange system in the game. A quote:

    In Diablo II, released in 2000, you had to sit in any of hundreds of chat channels for hours, advertising the deal you sought. If your prospective partner was in another channel, you might never find him (or, far less likely, her).

    Blizzard knows that just won?t cut it anymore. Today?s players will demand simple yet powerful tools to create their own bustling virtual economy without the tedium. Call it an advanced sort of auction house.

    Once Diablo III arrives, millions of players will generate items of randomized treasure every day. That can make eBay look like a flea market. Keeping track of it all online and designing trading tools that can handle that kind of volume is a gargantuan programming and design challenge. It is one big reason Blizzard has been working on the game for so long. And it may also be why the company hasn?t detailed or demonstrated Diablo III?s trading systems yet.

    …To my admittedly biased (and eager) ears, that sounds as if the Blizzard folks wanted to get the game out in 2011. What they?ve shown so far looks good. But I, and millions of others, can hardly wait to see the full package of what they come up with.

    We’ve talked about it before, but this piece provides a nice summary of why a game like Diablo III needs something better than spam-filled trade channels. The article is necessarily brief; it doesn’t go into a discussion of using currency (whether based in DiabloWikigold or DiabloWikiSoJs or DiabloWikiHRs or the DiabloWikigems/DiabloWikirunes/something else we’ll use for that in D3) to replace or augment a straight barter-based economy, or offer any detailed system projections. But whatever economic system you favor, or believe will evolve once the game is out, I think it’s got to be focused around some sort of centralized Auction House.

    Players will certainly still use third party forums and other methods to advertise their wares, but online economies and inventory management have progressed quite a bit over the past decade. Bot-clogged trade channels and item exchanges that require you to be online all day, every day, to carry them out manually, must be a thing of the past by now. Right?

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