During this morning’s investor conference Rob Pardo gave a presentation on the Real Money Auction House highlighting some of the main features. Along with explaining how the stash and buyout systems will work and pointing out the problems with Diablo 2 trading. An interesting comment was made regarding looking for the best deals. Rob stated that it was unlikely players would move between auction houses to hunt down the best deals. Unlike World of Warcraft which had many,many auction house instances, Diablo 3 will only have around ten auction houses so he doesn’t think players will be bothered to hop around to look for deals and really play the market.
Rob also explained the RMAH fee system again as some players have been concerned about the multiple fees. The reason Blizzard are adding a flat fee for placing the item is so player won’t simply add all their inventory at the end of their play session which will keep valuable items only in the RMAH.
The flat sale fee is so when Blizzard make balance changes it will allow the devs to make the changes to the game that may be needed, whether it be on items or game balancing. Rob says that this flat fee system and not a percentage are so they are not accused of manipulating the market when they have to make changes to item stats for balancing reasons.
The only time a percentage comes into play is to the third party payment company which we already know.
I have no doubt whatsoever that there will be quite a few Diablo 3 players who will play the Diablo 3 market as best they can and really scour the AH for the best deals and keep a very close eye on the value of specific commodities and also gold.
Read on for a paraphrased transcript on this courtesy of Sentarius…
Battle.net debuted with Diablo, and showing the original interface. ”Wild Wild West” wrt cheating; no client-server models, etc. PKing. ”Unwashed masses”!
Diablo II: “Wild Wild West but only slightly less wild.” Had to declare hostile; client-server model. Item economy due to random items, but trades in chat rather than in game and SoJ based economy. Failure on the part of Blizzard to make gold viable. Lot of areas for improvement. Single player was a local character and couldn’t interact online. Non-persistent characters were “horrible” for the longevity of the game. No friends list or matchmaking, etc.
So for DIII they want to keep you connected to friends; friends list and cross-game chat. SCII / RealID model.
Online only, fans are resisting but they still like it. You can still play by yourself as long as you want, but then one day when you find a great item that you want to sell, you can.
Matchmaking for PvP. Emphasis on co-op play, letting people hop in, dynamic difficulty shifts, etc. (old hat).
Now talking about banner system, which shows your playstyle as well as achievements, somewhat customizable.
Moving on to the AH.
Loot is incredible important, all items are randomized. Key diff between WoW and DIII. You need to trade to get the best gear. People would arrange trades in chat then go in game. Eventually sites arose where items were sold for money; these were not Blizz. authorized and promoted fraud.
AH will be like WoW, but RMAH is the big new thing. All in-client, but hopefully a web client eventually as well. They want to let players stay in game though. Gold and items can be sold and they hope to add the ability to sell characters, post-release. Idea is a separate AH for each real world currency. Rob doesn’t think there will be deal-hunting between AHs because in WoW we saw every faction every server with a AH and all well stocked. And that’s a lot more AHs than there will be in DIII, WHICH THEY EXPECT WILL HAVE A SIMILARLY SIZED PLAYER BASE. (!)
AH will have smart-search and all that. Due to random items its harder to know what you’re looking for, so smart search will be very helpful.
Shared stash. Interesting, one reason is they think that if you’re in game looking for a particular item you might not remember that a different character already has it…
The AH will have secure item transfer, which is a feature no 3rd party can offer.
In other MMOs in Asia developers are creating items and selling them to players, which breeds player resentment. Blizzard is going to let players determine the economy themselves and as a result are the good guys in the industry.
Players will be anonymous during trading. (!)
Gold AH, of course.
Hardcore limited to gold AH, they don’t want to see people spend money on a character and then lose it.
AH from a transaction point of view: Listing fee and transaction fee. Nominal fee just to list, another nominal one to complete transaction. Both will be a fixed flat fee per transaction, not a percentage. Reason for listing fee is to limit auction house spam. Lots and lots of items won’t be valuable enough to spend real world money on, and they don’t belong on the RMAH.
They want to make the AH easy for players so there will be a certain number of free listings each week. Money in virtual account can be returned to the AH or used for “other Blizzard services.” (!) This will also suck people into the RMAH system, of course.
Reason for transaction fee [being flat] is to help make it clear that Blizzard makes balance changes to improve the game, not to make the RMAH more profitable. With flat fees Blizz profits strictly from volume, so their incentive is to make the RMAH something that as many use as possible.
There is a cash-out fee as well, which will be handled through a 3rd party that remains unannounced but they are very close to announcing. Each time a transaction is complete you must choose between cashing out into your virtual account or to the third party, and Blizzard hopes that most money will go to the virtual account. That keeps money in the system and, again, it can be spent on Blizzard services. Rob emphasizes again that the more money stays in the AH system the more transactions and the more fees for Blizzard.
Rob says that thinking players first this is something players really want. Ten years ago they would have resisted more, but now they want it, and if Blizzard doesn’t provide it someone else will. It will be a great system for buyers and sellers because some have more money than time and some have more time than money and all benefit. He specifically mentions that someone with a lot of time could use it to fund their WoW subscription.
Rob thinks this would not work in WoW because of “fundamental game design and how it works.” He thinks microtransactions aren’t successful when they’re tacked on and not integrated, but here it will be good for players, Blizzard, and the game. Will add longevity to the game. AH itself as a major, fun game system.
Rob says thanks and hands it off to the CFO.