Jay Wilson Interview @ MCV Pacific

Another Jay Wilson interview from his Australasian press tour earlier this month is available from MCV Pacific. They presented and , with about five questions in each. Nothing real ground breaking, but Jay was in an expensive mood and gave some nice replies.

Here’s a quote from part two, with an extended analogy explaining why they structured the Auction House / trading system as they did in Diablo III. As usual, thanks to fmulder for the tip.

A lot of the services (the Auction house etc) in Diablo 3 are becoming normalised these days. Are they being included here because they’re expected, or because you have a particular passion for these kinds of business models which include in-game spending?

The decision really came from looking at Diablo 2 and what players did there and what players want to do.

I think one of the things we try really hard to do at Blizzard is not make a lot of assumptions. We’d say: ‘Don’t go against what your players are trying to do. See if you can find a way to enable what they want.’

A great example is the quest system in WoW. In most MMOs before that, you just grinded to level up, and we didn’t think that was very fun, so we wanted people to do questing. We could’ve hardwired players into that, but instead we wanted to include it while allowing grinding, giving players appropriate rewards. It just made questing more beneficial.

What we’re really doing there is embracing what the player wants to do. We found that the player is looking for efficiency – they’re doing the most efficient thing even if it’s the least fun thing. So we just decided to make the most fun thing also the most efficient thing. And that’s making sure we’re following player instinct.

It’s the same thing with the Auction house. People want to trade. They traded in Diablo 2 (for real money) – they just did it outside of the game. And players want to buy items. I can’t tell you how many hardcore Diablo players I know who pay money for high-level items. I also have a lot of friends who went to pay real money for in-game things and got ripped off. It’s a game about trading items; it’s a game where trading is the best path to getting the best items.

But Diablo 2 didn’t facilitate trading at all, so in doing the Auction house we really want to facilitate trading, and we really wanted to embrace what players were doing, and what we knew players were going to do regardless of whether we did real money or not.

Has everyone accepted the DiabloWikiAuction House now? It was very controversial when first introduced, especially for the DiabloWikiReal Money Trading aspect of things, but I haven’t seen a lot of complaints about it lately. Some people still take umbrage at the RMT aspect, but it seems like even most fans who dislike the real money intrusion into the game have grown more accepting of it, if only because $$ will just be another type of currency required to trade.

You find a good item, you sell it for gold or $$, and then you spend that gold/money on another item. It’s not “real” money unless you deposit into the system, or withdraw via Pay Pal. So long as you leave your Bobby Bucks on your account, they might as well be another type of gold; just one you can’t actually use in the game to train Artisans.

So there are no ethical problems then… right?

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    51 thoughts on “Jay Wilson Interview @ MCV Pacific

    1. There was always real money trading, so if blizz will take profits from this and it would be more civilized I can’t see anything wrong about it.
      There will be more reasons for them to patch and add new content

    2. It’s not that much of an issue for me.

      The only thing I don’t like is rich/spoiled kids without skill buying high level gear and being all arrogant about it, but since D3 will require a fair amount of skill to actually progress through your levels and difficulties, I guess it won’t be game-breaking. There are hard level caps for difficulties anyway, and you can’t buy your aiming skill, mobility, or upgrade your real-life reaction time for pressing your healthpot button.

      Even games with account/character-bound items are prone to unskilled people posing in high-level gear, they’ll just buy complete accounts on sites like eBay. You can’t really fight it, so RMAH is a pretty okay-ish compromise.

      I won’t be using it much, maybe just sell some items to buy other items, but I will not be depositing or withdrawing.

      • To make this clear: if Blizzard made inferno right, gear will never trivialize the end-game. You will still need to be a skilled player. Therefore, buying gear might make the game easier, but it won’t beat the game for you.

        And to avoid confusion, I agree with you! 🙂

        • and if Blizzard doesn’t make it right the first time. They already said that they will fix it. 

          Inferno is not meant to ever be trivial… even with perfect gears 😛 

    3. I don’t care what other people do, as long as I can play the game the way I want to enjoy it without being forced to use some mechanic in order to be successful. In this case, it being the RMAH.

      Sure, I might use my earned gold to buy some mats to craft a piece of gear that I found the plans for, sure.  But using the RMAH is out of the question – unless there are some purely aesthetic changes that I can use to customize for example the appearance of my character. But never anything that would give me progress or make it easier.

      The inclusion of the RMAH and people using it to buy gear does not ruin my personal experience of the game in any way, shape, or form. Glad it’s there, wouldn’t care if it wasn’t.

    4. I know that at one point we were talking to a well-known famous actor to play one of the characters and we decided not to because the number of lines was something like 25’000 and the cost per session was reasonable, but the number of sessions we needed to do was kind of outrageous.
      So in order to do it, it’d have to be a Sean Bean character who can die in the first act?
      Exactly. And with a role like that, can we really justify getting a well-paid famous person acting in that role?


      As far as I’m concerned, Sean Bean is a well-paid famous person. 

      • That was the point. That they could only get a well paid famous person if the role were limited, and died early in the game.

        • I dunno I think it’s ambiguous. You’re probably right, but to me it reads “Why get a famous, well paid person….for a Sean Bean role?

          • Because he played Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones, who dies in the first book. That’s the point of the whole reference, I believe.

            • Yeah I know I read ’em up to the latest one, which I haven’t bothered with yet. He also kicked the bucket in LotR pretty early iirc. I’m probably not explaining myself properly. If we take “A Sean Bean” to mean a famous / paid actor that dies early, the developers answer to the question “It’d have to be a Sean Bean?” is “Can we really justify getting a Sean Bean to play a Sean Bean?”, which makes no sense at all. If he’s simply saying “Can we justify getting a Sean Bean?” it makes perfect sense, but that’s not what is written.

              I realise this is a bit convoluted and pointless ‘cos he probably meant what you’re saying he did.

            • What the developer means is probably that – it was a one-season role. If a well-known celeb was looking for a TV series, he was probably looking for a long (for the money) and starring (for fame, good reviews and MOAR money!!) role. Sean Bean would be getting only one half of the coin if he took on the role of Eddard Stark since he would be forgotten by Season 2. So the producers were jittery about approaching him.

          • No, he’s saying why bother spending big bucks to get a person like Sean Bean for a short-lived role when they can get a lesser-known-mostly-voice-acting type person. The person asking the question is referring to Sean Bean’s role in Game of Thrones where he dies at the end of season 1 (and the end of the first novel it’s based on) even though he’s one of the most important characters.

            Edit: gah… beaten to it…

    5. I’ve always been happy with RMAH, because it allows Blizzard to have their extra money without making me pay extra. And if I will ever feel like buying there, then I will be happy, because, well, then I will feel like it.

      And recently I’ve got into Tribes, where you buy weapons and classes for money or XP (with a pretty draconic ratio of approximately $10 ~= 20 days w/ 1hr/day ~= 8 days w/ 4 hr/day), and pay them a lot. Because it is a cool game, it does not make you do thing you don’t want, and it makes you feel good. I could not actually afford $150 for two accounts… but I did.

      The point is… I think everyone has his moment when he has more money than time. So I do not believe anyone who’s saying RMAH makes the game worse. Unless this person is Azzure. 

      • Tribes is a different case. First of all, it’s a F2P game, which still tries to get thier pricing right (i agree that some weapons are outrageously expensive) and “micro” transactions are sole source of revenue, and second of all – buying upgrades is irrelevant most of the time!
        How having 100 hp more on your armor gonna help you if you’re getting direct hit with every spinfusor shot coming at you? How upgrading Fusion mortar to Mirv launcher will help you at clearing base defences, if you can’t aim it to save your life? Upgrades there make barely any difference and in case of weapons they are most of cases sidegrades (unless overpowered on release, like plasma gun >.<). What matters in this game is skill, not upgrades (again, unless it’s overpowered on release 😐 ).
        On a side note, i would love to sink some money to support hi-rez, but i’ll do it when i actually get a pc which will run it better then 15 fps >.< Well, that’s my tribe rant/speech/watever.

        • I suggest putting in 10 (or whatever) bucks so you can at least get the VIP bonus. Pays off alot in the long run.

          • Well, i don’t really play that often with the framerate i have, so i’ll probably end up doing so when i upgrade my pc.

    6. “we knew players were going to do regardless of whether we did real money or not.”

      Right. I hope they won’t let you sell characters though, because the same reasons wouldn’t apply to it. People couldn’t sell characters as easy as they can items, UNLESS Blizzard let you. Characters are tied to your Bnet account and region iirc., so even if some people did do it, it would remain very small. So again, Blizzard has no excuse for allowing character selling.

      Why am I saying this? Because Bashiok said they were considering it. I think it would be a terrible mistake. In Diablo 3 there are no “character sinks”, as there are gold sinks, so the market would get quickly saturated with level 60 characters that people farm up for others and then sell. Eventually the price of level 60 characters would be dirt cheap, and you would be a fool to play from level 1 to 60 on your own and not just buy one.

      • “you would be a fool to play from level 1 to 60 on your own and not just buy one.”

        Not sure that’s true really. If you just bought a level 60 character having not played through the game with that class before, you’d not have much chance of surviving in Hell/Inferno as you wouldn’t know the skills well, or which to use in any given situation.

        I agree that it seems strange to be considering selling characters, as with the new skill system, all that could be different (taking items out of the equation as you can get them seperately) is the choice of runes that player has made – which costs you nothing to duplicate.

        Maybe some people would consider it a way of selling an item ‘package’ all at once, a convenient way to display an item set maybe, and get a higher price for selling the whole set at once, rather than just each individual item. If that’s the case though, a better solution surely would be to allow us to sell groups of items on the AH also, without having to tie them to a character. 

        • Perhaps if you’re very new to the genre then maybe yes…otherwise the advantages of buying a high level character are pretty obvious (even though I wouldn’t care much):
          1. You don’t need to play with the restrictive abilities
          2. No need to play through the forced starter difficulties because it’s effectively what most will only do (even more than half of you that read this comment…including me!).
          2. You don’t need to play with the restrictive abilities (really the beta felt worse than the starting hours of WoW…and that felt really “hold-handy”).
          Really they’ve made the first few pieces so much like WoW that it’s actually kind of funny (really – do we honestly need to play for at least three hours before we get some real choices?)…I don’t want to have any hand holding (imagine this on your fourth/fifth character…).
          Either way I don’t care for transactions in the game of any kind (RMAH or Gold-based AH) because I never did before when playing D2 – I was “casual” and offline 99.999% of the time (with online only recently to test the waters because of the forced online in D3) in D2 where I had the luxury of just playing in my own time, whenever, wherever provided I had a PC and electricity (for all those D3 forum trolls) and with my own schedule…why would that have to change in D3 (apart from the now forced online connectivity)?
          Okay so I would love to play Diablo III (perhaps I was a little to negative above?) but I’m patient enough to wait until things have settled really nicely before I jump in because I just don’t want my experience screwed up because of a Queue, maintenance period or something similar (Yes – it’s not an MMORPG so let’s hope it doesn’t play like one).

    7. I’ve never liked the RMAH, but at the same time I don’t care because it’s something I won’t use.  I get why it’s there. Plus, I don’t think it’s ethically wrong to pay for items since you “earn” items just like you “earn” money.  Time + effort = reward.
      Really, I think you don’t hear much about it these days because everyone knows it’s going to be in there, regardless of how much you may or may not have complained initially.  You might hate it, but there it will be.  Fighting an inevitable fact is pointless.  …True, a lot of Interweb whiners still exist and will take on the entitled, I’m-always-right perspective.  But at this point, complaints won’t do anything.  The RMAH is here to stay.  Besides there’s plenty of other shiny new things to complain about, like BattleTags and exclusive Feats of Strength!!

    8. RMAH is something I’d prefer not to be in the game, yet I admire it’s presence for the sake of being one hell of an interesting social experiment. I’m really interested to see how it’s going to develop and grow, I’ll enjoy sitting back on my haunches to see how it develops. 
      I’ve also spent some time looking over all the available Merch on the Blizzard Store…there’s quite a few things I’d be pleased as hell to get for myself simply by selling in game items.

    9. The only thing I don’t like is what happens when I find uberitems. I mean I’d be dumb not to put them on the RMAH if I can sell them for e.g. € 50,-. Which is not directly all bad but still…

      • That really depends on your perspective and what you’re playing for. Are you playing to earn money or are you playing to play? If you find an uberitem that is just awesome for your character and you submit to the temptation of easy money, then you’ve just changed your game.

        However, for example finding an uberitem for a Witch Doctor, but you don’t have one, nor do you ever want to roll one, then, selling it does not change your game.

        Same goes the other way – do you buy an uberitem that some person just posted for some small price? Do you resell it? Do you use it instead?

        It’s really just a  fine line that you draw yourself. The constraints for your game in order to either achieve something you want, or get something out of it – you define for yourself.

        I guess my point is – it’s not necessarily stupid nor smart to sell that item for money. It’s just that if you want to play for items or play for money or play for a little bit of both. There is no wrong, no right, no stupid, no smart in actually making those decisions. It’s you that’s playing and it’s you who is playing the way you want for whatever reason you find more enjoyable or profitable.

        Did that make any sense at all? I seemed to ramble there =p, anyway my view on this.

        • It’s a good thing that there is no soulbind in D3 in this case… That way you can try the items first then if you don’t like it, bored with it, or find something better, then you can sell it for a nice sum… Best of both world 😛

    10. I don’t want to make use of the AH of either currency, as I enjoy the item finding aspect a lot – I’m cool they’re both there, as it gives players different options.

      One wonders, though – of the many people who’s been calling the RMAH worse than crap, how many of them could pass the temptation to put an item up, if they felt they’d found something truly epic? 

    11. Mhh, i cant understand the discussion about RMAH realy.
      If i dont like this feature, ok, then i dont klick the button for. For the play, the game itself, nothing change for the personel expierience, no malus, no lesser experiennce, no forbidden areas or something else.
      If anyone enjoy to trade, ok, here is the place to be. No unsecure 3thrd party. Here comes the plcae for gold or for real money. Why not?
      Personally i will use the RMAH ONLY for sell. Never i would buy an item. If ppl have enouth cash and buy items for a better playexpirience or only to pimp the char to rock inferno, ok, take my item and we both will be lucky. 🙂

      • I’m indifferent about RMAH. I’ll sell on it, and wouldn’t really care if it isn’t there, but

        Mhh, i cant understand the discussion about RMAH realy.If i dont like this feature, ok, then i dont klick the button for. For the play, the game itself, nothing change for the personel expierience, no malus, no lesser experiennce, no forbidden areas or something else.  

        You really think it’ll exist in a vacuum? That it won’t have any effect on GAH whatsoever? Or other aspects of the game? (pay to win etc). 

        • No Vacuum. But if you dont use the GAH or the RMAH, nothing changed on the game expirience.
          In F2P stores you buy items to get some benefits, like more EXP, more anything. In the RMAH this wouldnt be, that i mean.

        • That’s ridiculous assumption as both AH are linked and gold can be exchanged. If you see something that you want in RMAH, then simply sell your gold for RM and use that RM to buy the item you want. Problem solved!  

    12.     The above article is in total contrast of Blizzard’s view on RMT back in 2005. They were totally against the concept of trading in-game items for real cash. They denounced other companies (Sony) launching thier Station Exhange model and stated that RMT had “no place in online gaming”. Now fast foward to Diablo 3 and we see a, “If we can’t beat em, join em” concept. 

          It is very easy to draw the attention of gaming companies when an individual investor pays 2.5 million USD for a virtual planet (Planet Entropia). I have no issue with gaming companies removing/limiting the middle man (third party sites) and keeping profits in house. I feel that a company such as Blizzard will pave the way for future companies to consider this same business model. However, I do have one major issue and that is the excessive fees that Blizzard has imposed. Blizzard has gone from, “we just want to create a safe environment for our players”, to an obivious cash grab. Other companies in the past have used this RMAH model and charged much less in terms of fees. And as long as there are niave players out there stating, “it’s just free money”, this will allow Blizzard, as well as other future companies to impose thier own fees and gouge customers due to player acceptance.

      • I don’t really understand the complaint – sure you’re free to think that the fees are too large (which I disagree with), but then you don’t actually have to use the RMAH yourself, and if you do, you still don’t need to put real money in to begin with – you can just trade items you find in game. 

        If Blizzard were actively selling items themselves for real money – or for gold, I agree – there would be a problem, but that just isn’t the case.

      • On your first paragraph… and? That’s what big companies do, and Bliz PR, especially via Bashiok and their other CMs, have made numerous shining examples of that practice during D3’s development. The exact same feature is horrible when it’s out of the game and wonderful a month later when it’s back in. That’s the whole point in having PR people — to defend whatever your current strategy is, and pivot on a dime when the strategy changes. 

        Not to get melodramatic, but Blizzard has always been at war with Oceania.


        • Ha, I like your 1984 metaphor.

          I’ve come to accept that the RMAH is a fact, but I will never like it. It hurts the integrity of the game, takes away some of the innocent fun, and Blizzard’s 180 on this matter has made me pretty cynical regarding their PR bull. So no, I don’t accept what the RMAH entails, merely that it’s there and there’s nothing we’re going to do about it.

      • If you haven’t figured out by now, Blizzard changes their mind on things suddenly and without warning all the time and have done so for a looong time. I can give examples from the early days of Blizzard up to the most recent one with the ‘One of the Chosen’ fiasco.

    13.    I base my opinion on my experience with other RMAH games. Again, when Blizzard says they just want to create a “safe envirnment” as thier main motivation for the RMAH and then turn around and charge a 15% transfer fee, when it only costs them 2.2 % + .30 cents, that is excessive. Players will accept this because they feel it is free money for playing a game, and they may have never played any other RMAH game in the past to compare the costs. I again have no issue with Blizzard’s reversal of opinion on the RMAH, however I do not believe the main intention is for player convenience considering thier above average fees.

    14. I guess I still look at roleplaying games (even online ones like MMO’s or hack and slashers) in the light of someone who is a long time D&D player.  Don’t you think it would be pretty abhorrent for someone at a D&D game to start offering up their items to fellow players for $10 or $20 real money? That kind of thing just never happens because the game is contained within itself, as it should be. Why has it started to become socially acceptable for people to do this in online gaming??  I look at all this real money buying and selling of stuff as just completely ruining what a game is for all parties involved.  It makes me sad that online gaming has come to this 🙁

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you. A game is a self contained sphere, with it’s own set of rules and laws. Once you allow outside rules and laws (real money, through the RMAH) to dictate how the game functions, it’s integrity is harmed. In that sense, it’s akin to using cheat codes. One might not be bothered by other people using cheat codes, but it’s cheating all the same. Why doesn’t Blizzard allow people to turn on invulnerability-mode in PvE?

        Furthermore, as xynthal has pointed out, I don’t like that everything has to be monetized by Blizzard nowadays. Yes, of course they’re a company who has to make a profit, but they certainly don’t need to squeeze out every damn last opportunity to do so. In the end, this greedy behaviour will probably do them more harm than good anyway. Gamers respect companies that are dedicated to making quality games, not companies dedicated to maximixing their profits.

        • You two chaps are just awesome. I love Blizzard because of their older titles and just because so many defend their decisions going forward it doesn’t mean that I have to just accept it. Sure, I may have no choice whatsoever (actually it seems as if I have none) but at the same time I will never accept (or defend) some of their silly decisions because no matter what some of those decisions are just plain daft.
          Forced online? Okay sure I accept that’s where gaming is going – hefty pricetag plus micro-transactions to “cash in” with the excuse of a “safer environment to sell your goods” when it really promotes a “pay to win” environment – never! Only stupid people will think that forced online isn’t the most effective DRM as their primary focus (I understand this still but it’s not to “enable a safer environment” for players like they claim it to be) and only bigger fools will think the RMAH is to control things…because really it’s such a huge step backwards from their previous statements in the past over the years (never once was I affected by hacks/dupes/whatevers because I only ever wanted to play offline – casually, sure but to be “Uber” – no way I just didn’t care where as now they’re pushing it harder than ever before).

      • I agree. The game industry has gotten its players used to paying more for their product. The fact that free to play games like those made by Zynga can pull in so much money from microtransactions is astounding… and probably why game companies can’t resist trying to tap into that revenue.    

        To expand on the D&D players sitting around a table… add to it that the DM (the one in charge of deciding the quantity and quality of items to insert into his adventure) gets a flat fee for all transactions that take place at the table.     

    15. The RMAH is an inevitablility in a captialistic society.  Fight as you might, currently, the societies with the most influence are capitialistic.  Most of the people in these capitialistic societies are accustomed to wanting to gain money and then trading that money for things of power and luxury.

      Capitalism.  Regardless of how you think Blizzard treats it’s games and it’s fans, they are a capitialist organization in a capitialist society. 

      From the definition, Blizzard must try to maximize capitalization on all their endeavours. 

      First and foremost, no capitalization equals no capital equals no product development.  From every ascpect of every product, maximization of monetary gain must be implemented. 

      They must weigh carefully each decision.  The result of which, they feel, provides the least negative impact on their ability to gain monetarily.  If you feel that they are doing something that appeals to you, as, i.e., a hardcore gamer, they must believe that that is the best way to maximize their total earning potential. 

      And understand, that although the “hardcore” player base may be relatively small, they understand that this niche is responsible for most of the forum discussions and therefore, has potentially the second highest (perhaps the press is first) potential to influence those who are on the fence.


    16. RMAH is good feature it both encourages Blizzard to fight duping, bots, add content and gives everyone equal access to items. People would trade for money without rmah so anyone raging about this is just stupid.
      The only ppl that actually got reasons to rage are those that were scaming or selling items via third party already and now they fear the competition.

    17. I’m still not comfortable with the RMAH. I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that D3 appears to be a solid game with some very poor decisions that went into it. I do see these decisions impacting me negatively, but I’ve decided it won’t be enough to completely throw me off the game. In honesty, I feel resentment at what I’m in for as a player and as a customer, its just that since I’ve decided to buy the game anyway I didn’t see the value in continuing to complain.

    18. I don’t know… I’m personally of the opinion that one should have to put in their own effort to earn things in a game, otherwise whats the point of having progression in said game? It’s just like how people have to put in their own effort to earn a degree or how they have to put in their own effort to be promoted at their job. Then again, if we are going to make a real-world analogy, people are always selling the fruits of their labors to other people for the common currency of their resident nation. That’s what makes the world’s economies work…
      I just wish that games could stay more self contained like other things. I mean you don’t see professional athletes selling off their spots in championship games to other teams or selling off their spots on their teams to random people. They earned these things through their own effort (even if they are ridiculously overpaid for it) and they shouldn’t be able to give them away for mere money.

    19. In the essence of it though, what’s the point in playing games? To have fun! 

      So personally, if people have better experience by paying real money, so be it as long as it does not disrupt my play experience. Treat it like a cheat code in older games, some people will cheat, some don’t, but it never bothers me…

      And to the person saying that RMAH will affect gold AH…. That’s ridiculous assumption as both AH are linked and gold can be exchanged. If you see something that you want in RMAH, then simply sell your gold for RM and use that RM to buy the item you want. Problem solved!  

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