I’ve written about a lot of things over the past few months( six to be exact( really six months and still no game?)) some have been pressing, some have been minor but one in my opinion has been left out. The RMAH is in softcore and a gold based auction house is what we will find in Hardcore. With this Blizzard has closed the door on item selling sites but has left the window open in hardcore. My analysis and more after the bump.
I’ll start this out by stating: I have never bought virtual items with real or “fake” money. That is to say I am not opposed to the idea, it may work for some people. If they chose to do it I’m fine with it. What I don’t like is a system that is set up that you have to do it in order to play on the same level with others. Thankfully Hardcore does not have a real money component in it, however the lack therein creates a whole new world of problems.
Eventually all the gold in the world is not going to be enough. That Windforce in soft core could make you a cool $50 and you are already not picking up gold anymore. What do you do? You’ve been sixty for weeks, have been struggling through Inferno and playing the AH to no avail to upgrade your armor. What do you do?
You will do what so many in Diablo 2 now do, D2jsp or forum gold.
What is forum gold? It is an online currency that can be exchanged for goods and services. It rose to prominence in 2002 and at this point basically runs the Diablo 2 economy. You can use forum gold to buy a Windforce, get rushed to hell, or have players killed ( I do like the bounty system). Unfortunately, the D2 economy falters as a result and you must buy into the system in order to be competitive.
Forum gold has devastated the Diablo trading community; you almost can’t get the items you need without it. Even the simple tasks like getting a rush in Normal are charged for. Which I suppose makes sense, why help someone for free when you can profit from it?
Which ties into the larger problem, Placing a value on those actions deteriorates the community. If we measure everything in dollars and cents we would never hand over that Windforce to the low level Amazon, or help with the ancients because we would be taking money out of our own pockets. Do free stuff games still exist? and are people still kind? Of course but the quantity of such acts has diminished.
But Xanth that was Diablo 2, there were dupes and bots and no real way to trade effectively. Surely D3 won’t have a need for this right? I’d love to say yes imaginary person questioning me, but You can already see d2jsp has forums up for trading in Diablo 3. In fact right now you can use your forum gold to buy items in the beta!
I do not see a way for forum gold to not creep into Hardcore D3. The conditions are eerily similar to what prompted it to start in D2. No real effective way to trade, gold which will over time become deflated, and items that will be rare enough to justify it. Plus it will make it much easier to recover from a death, just load up your stash with the gear you need and start leveling. The path of least resistance is always easier, and with no viable alternative I won’t be surprised to see it.
One of the large reasons Hardcore doesn’t have an RMAH was to “save us from ourselves” and I imagine it’s is a customer service nightmare. However, sites like d2jsp show us there is a market and a desire for it. And that market now has a window. So what can Blizzard do about it? I don’t think much, aside from implementing a RMAH in hardcore. Unless there is a unified system everyone can rally around then people will turn to the alternative. Hardcore has risks, and each player going into knows that( or at least they should) as a result you want to best set yourself up against that failure. If spending a few bucks here and there will keep you alive and help you reach inferno, people will do it. Ultimately the reward is greater than the risk. D2 is old and dated yet people are still sinking money into that game, still rushing through content and farming monsters. D3 will be fresh and new and the chance to be ahead or have an edge on your colleague will be a large enough temptation for some to buy in to whatever system they can find.
One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.