The Diablo 3 Podcast #32: The Auction House and Real Money Trading Debate

Flux, Wolfpaq, and Nico debate the ethical, financial, and gameplay issues of the Diablo 3 Real Money Auction House. One guest is for it and the other is against it, so all PoVs are covered.

The thirty-second episode of The Diablo Podcast is now online for your listening pleasure. On this show, Flux moderates a debate/discussion about Blizzard’s controversial plans for a DiabloWikireal money trading element to the Diablo III DiabloWikiAuction House. The Diablo Podcast regular Wolfpaq supports the RMAH and thinks it will be a beneficial feature. TDP newcomer Nico opposes the RMAH and thinks it will corrupt the game and cause unpleasant real world considerations to intrude on what should be a fun gaming experience. Tune in to witness their fight to the death!

This episode isn’t exactly a debate, but both guests are given ample opportunity to make their cases on a wide variety of Auction House and economic issues. Topics covered include:

  • RMT in the game is just wrong. People should use items they find themselves, or obtain with in-game goods. Not external resources.
  • Should there be non-RMT servers? Other than Hardcore mode.
  • Can the current state of D2 trading/economy be compared to D3, given all the duping and bots in D2?
  • Will Diablo 3 maintain a functional gold-based economy?
  • Is the always-online DRM requirement, and the lack of no-RMT servers, designed to force all players into the same RMT economy?
  • Will high end items only be sold for $, thus forcing any player who wants to buy, sell, or trade them to use RMT?
  • What will happen with the high level Hardcore economy? RMT via 3rd party sites; exactly the scenario Blizzard says they introduced the RMAH to prevent in D3?
  • What happens shortly before a patch or expansion, when everyone knows a whole new tier of top end items will come in and upset the market values?
  • What will Blizzard do if the RMAH doesn’t take off and they don’t meet their revenue projections?

Listen for all the arguments, whichever side of the equation you’re standing on.

The Diablo 3 Podcast Episode Guide in provides links to every show, plus quick summaries.

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42 thoughts on “The Diablo 3 Podcast #32: The Auction House and Real Money Trading Debate

  1. I’m listening to the podcast now (its a great debate btw). I’d like to address the claim that “the best items will only appear on the RMAH”.  I don’t think this is a fair assumption, because the people finding those high-end items are obviously players who have invested significant time in the game, and will still need to fund their characters repair costs, gear upgrades, etc.  If any player chooses to strictly use the RMAH for the bulk of their income, they might lack the gold income to keep their characters alive and swinging.  Thus, I think as rare items appear on the RMAH, the demand for the same item in the gold AH would increase, and give an incentive for players to sell items there as well.

    • @Hypersapien:  That depends actually.  We know there is a gold to cash conversion but we don’t yet know if there is a cash to gold conversion.

      • The auction house is players only (no Blizzard selling/buying). Therefore, if gold-to-cash sales are possible, then cash-to-gold purchases are possible as well. In fact, every transaction would, by necessity, involve both.

        If you can sell gold for RM, you can use that RM to buy gold.

    • Having played D2 a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean D2 was like having a second full time job with over time, I can safely say all the top end items in D3 will be $$$ only, especially if Blizzard successfully stops botting and duping in D3 and the top end items remain as rare as they are intended.

      • D2Fans covered this topic well in one of their articles.

        If a significant amount of people are NOT using the RMAH to purchase items, it means demand for top-tier items on the Gold AH will be higher. Savvy players will use this to their advantage by selling items on the Gold AH for a high price (in gold) and then turning around and selling the gold for more $ than they would have gotten for the item on the RMAH.

        Basically, any difference in the two markets will be exploited until they reach parity.

        • Thanks Twig, thats the point I was trying to make. If there’s a sword that I really really want, and I’ve only ever seen it on the RMAH, then as soon as I do finally see it on the gold AH, I’ll be willing to pay a whole lot more gold for it just because it’s relative rarity is much higher than it is in the RMAH.

  2. “The auction house is players only (no Blizzard selling/buying).”
    Until they come up with ‘Celestial Armor’ like WoW’s ‘Celestial Steed’? Blizzard’s history says it’s only a matter of time before they start selling exlusive items on the RMAH. Assuming they don’t do this from day 1.

    • What?  Blizzard doesn’t sell Celestial Steeds on the WoW Auction house.  You buy them from the online store for a set amount, and they are bound to your account, and you get them on all your characters.  Plus, they are entirely visual, they offer no advantage in game play.

      So, if Blizzard did indeed sell “Celestial Armor”, it would be on the online store, at a set price, would only change the visual appearance of your character, be available on every character you create (ever), and have no effect on your gameplay.

  3. Flux, I first have to say I really appreciate your years of dedication to a Diablo community. The average forum threads on these subjects leave much to be desired. I was eagerly anticipating a well manned RMAH discussion and would have written in to be a guest had I discovered your podcast a few days earlier.

    I like how you guys have multiple consistent opinions of experienced, legit D2 players. Much like you and your guests, I will play D3 and never use cash transactions. I agree that players who spend in RMAH will mostly do it to get items that are impossible to find with their limited play time. Sellers will get real money for their farming efforts, the buyer has fun, Blizzard gets a taste, and nobody gets scammed. Everyone wins!

    I did not like how you ignored the perspective of every player between these extremes. I wonder why you failed to mention d2jsp and forum gold. Perfectly reasonable people will play D3 and never “cash out” their RMAH profits. That transaction will be taxed! They can just use “real” dollars from the RMAH as a higher tier of in game currency. While probably not “legit” by most definitions, d2jsp traders often have the same philosophy when using forum gold for D2. Even if they never bot, or dupe, fg represents the best way to transmute pgems into an enigma.

    I am also curious why none of your guests were against an auction house of any kind. I always believed the ability to assign your own values to items, negotiating deals in a poorly defined currency, managing your limited inventory space across mules, and acknowledging the value of your own time are extremely important aspects of D2. An easy to use AH can take a tremendous advantage away from players who can take these (almost) real world skills in game.

    If you are hosting another show on this subject or are auditioning guests for any reason, I would apply in a second.

    • You are a few weeks late, since I had an open casting call for the anti-RMAH position for this podcast. As you heard on the show, we recorded it 2 weeks ago but it died with my old desktop, so this was the 2nd round, with the 2nd anti-person. Wolfpaq appeared on both shows.

      No one who auditioned was actually anti-AH. Just they didn’t like the RMT aspect.



    • “I always believed the ability to assign your own values to items, negotiating deals in a poorly defined currency…”

      I think this will still happen in D3. People who want to trade item for item will do so in chatrooms and trading games.

  4. OK BRILLIANT idea by one of the guests, only allowing items to be traded ONCE (besides gold). This would make auctions very important, it would make you follow all the listed items you were interested in and make for heated trades AND help the economy immensely, at least prolong the economy for a very long time IMO.

  5. Come on, the “there are people that can’t spend that much time playing the game” argument to defend RMAH is ridiculous. Well, I say there are people who make more money than others, so it’s unfair to have RMT… Duh.

    • And students who don’t earn money at all. Funny how this quite shaky argument portraits the supposedly mature players who earn their living as the WANT ALL NOW cry babies. People used to be ok with not having everything in a game, not so much anymore. Blizzard built a world where there are no heroes because everybody is one.

    • Why aren’t you going into detail why you think such things?  Why are the arguments that defend RMAH ridiculous?  Did you listen to the podcast at all?

    • I object to your use of the word “unfair”.  If a player decides to spend $1000 (a ridiculous over-exaggeration that I’m making up) to equip their character with the best gear for every slot, how is that wronging YOU?  This isn’t a competitive game, as blizzard has stated.  If some guy has a better sword than you, it isn’t holding you back or impairing you in the least.  Just because you don’t like him having it, doesn’t make the entire system flawed.

      I feel that much of the argument against RMT stems from a player’s belief that blizzard has an obligation to defend your ego.

      • for me thats not the point. “If a player decides to spend $1000 (a ridiculous over-exaggeration that I’m making up) to equip their character with the best gear for every slot, how is that wronging YOU?”. Thats not wronging me in the same exact way that my having 23572034895723096 more free hours to play the game is not  wronging the wallet-frenzied guy next door. So, blizzard doesnt have to compensate someone’s lack of time just as much as it doesnt have to compensate (or just won’t) someone’s lack of spare money. Get it?

  6. I think there will be less botting in D3.  They mentioned the bots in WoW but those bots aren’t that sophisticated.  Unless I just don’t know of them, there aren’t bots that a lot people to farm raids/instances for the best gear.  Yes, they have bots that can queue up for a BG and run you around or auto attk/use 1 spell on a mob to farm gold.  However, if D3 is as difficult in hell, and they change boss farming as the only way to find items, I think it will be very difficult to make sophisticated enough bots to farm.  If you truly need to use multiple skills and some sort of strategy to defeat mobs, I don’t see bots being capable of doing that as efficiently.

    • I don’t think you’re giving enough credit to the coders/crackers of the diablo series.. Let’s take a look:

      Diablo1’s hack list featured a fully functional trainer, and a way of duping items in-game that took fifteen seconds.

      Diablo2 was in fact, even worse. Besides the fact that they STILL cannot fix a lag dupe that has been around since d2 classic, they also let one of the biggest lapses of server security ever occur around .07/.08. People were using a “matrix” hack, that essentially let them build whatever item they wanted to on open (iths), and then import it to closed realms.They even made better versions of “iths”, and released them for sale first, so they always had a back-up item that was even better. (Oh whats that? You just bought our new 915 ith? Well, we just put out a 1,000 damage ith, you should buy that!~)

      So far, Blizzard is 2/2 in not being able to police hackers correctly. The odds are not exactly looking good in our favor. This is why they’re essentially “giving up”. This is the same way that the government gave up during the prohibition. After all, why try to police bootleggers (Botters in this case), when you can just make it legal, and tax the hell out of them?

  7. This is really a breath of fresh air… a RMAH discussion that didn’t troll itself to death. This was great to listen to, and I guess we don’t really know until we know.

  8. Thanks for spending more time on this issue. I’m most concerned about the RMAH having long term negative effects on D3 than any other part of the game.

  9. I’m wondering how consistent the price of gold -> $ will be. In Eve there is actually a set rate, while the auction and trading system leaves prices fluctuating, the conversion of in-game currency to real-game currency is set. Seeing as though there are two sets of moving parts in the economy I expect it to be a lot more volatile or at least volatile for a lot longer.
    Something to consider.
    Also, as a previous poster mentioned, it should be entirely possible to play the RMAH without ever depositing or withdrawing any real money. I hope players are aware of this when they start playing as I believe a lot of people will be blinded by the EXPENSE / INCOME part of it. Just game it like any other AH 🙂

  10. Great debate.
    Has good arguments from both sides. But it still hasn’t changed my mind in any way. I’m still convinced Blizzard is refusing to give players options, such as singleplayer or RMT-less realms, so they can mold the ‘community’ to their liking.

  11. You know for the first couple of days i really disliked the RMT, then i realized magic find will be in the game.
    I hated MF in d2 because it was like cocaine.
    What i mean is like that corny Public Service Announcement from the 80’s on TV here in the USA. It was a man in a business suit running in circles saying “I do cocaine to make more money so i can do more cocaine, so i can make more money so i can do more cocaine, so i can…. ETC.”
    In games terms it meant you could never use anything you found because you were always looking for more stuff.
    I almost always had to trade for items because i never used MF so i honestly never found anything good, uniques,rares. The only thing i could do was gems, and crafting and imbuing.
    So for me i might not want to use MF and trade crafting materials or runes or gems for items, and a gold or RMT will make it a whole lot easier for me.

  12. The only thing I don’t like about it is high end items, as I believe, will be majorly sold on RMAH. However, I do think blizzard can sway this by making ALL transactions cost $$$, and not give any ‘freebie’ trades at all.

    It will make people think about what they are placing for auction if its going to cost them money no matter what.

    I’d prefer not to have it, but if it stays, I just wont check it (or I’ll play and find it myself) and on that point — its funny in the podcast I heard the “but I don’t have enough time to find stuff!!!” — Eh?? Diablo is a long-term XP / item find grind type of game. If you buy $$ EVERYTHING YOU NEED, why play? Just to PWN in PVP? May as well buy a pre-made awesome level 60 character too for 500$ and only play to show your loot to friends…

    You just don’t get that ‘Awesome!’ feeling when paying 10 bucks for it vs finding it after hours of play I guess is what I’m trying to say…

  13. I don’t understand why people whine about this “real money auction house”, it’s not like diablo 3 will be a mmorpg, it is a single player co-op title, and buying items is like buying armor in other RPGs like Dragon Age or Mass Efect, it’s not that of a big deal … if this was a MMOG then it would have been a issue since like it’s been said “you buy power”, but in Diabo 3…it’s not that important. Honestly how many of you played Diablo2 on battle net and joined a game with a really awesome geared player, how do you he didn’t get any of those items form d2jsp or w/e? can’t you stop the whine and drame it’s like a stamp “he has awesome gear=daddys mastercard”… think about it…

  14. On something later in the podcast, it was talking about people “buying items and turning them around and selling them for profit.”

    One cool thing in this screenshot:

    Note underneath the item he just purchased:
    “[Sell Item]
    Available in 72 hours”

    So you wont be able to do a quick switcheroo — it will take at least 3 days to re-list an item. Or so it was in that build right 😉 Choose wisely!

    Edit: I know items have an ID# tied to them also on drop, so what if you had 2 accounts and drop-traded it to another? Still the 72 hours wait to sell? Tied to the items ID# itself or just account? Interesting question…

  15. I’d also like to say, respect to Nico for conducting himself in such a respectful way. I wouldn’t mind him coming on other podcasts to voice his opinion.

      • I definitely enjoyed our conversation as well. Seems like there’s undoubtedly some common ground people on both sides of this issue can agree upon, since we’re all fans of the series who are looking forward to the game for more or less the same reasons, after all.
        Nice to know some listeners appreciated our efforts. Thanks for the feedback.

  16. Is it too late for Blizz to consider a separate realm(s) for RMAH?

    World of Warcraft splits their community by PvP realms and PvE Realms.
    I think this debate is large enough to propose dividing the community [a little] by providing RMAH realms and non-RMAH realms.  This should curb some of the complaining about “i don’t like RMAH.”  This way users like Nico (from the podcast) could participate in a D3 universe where RMAH is completely not a factor. 

    While I’m a fan of RMAH, I can certainly sympathize with RMAH haters.  For me, I would not have played WoW if all realms were PvP.  I tried them out and instantly hated the fundamental concept.  The only reason I stuck with WoW was b/c I could have the opt-in option to participate in PvP only when I elected to do so.


    P.S.  Thanks for the huge news post & clarification on Inferno mode (from Doomscream)

    • This is a controversial statement, but it is entirely possible that there are not enough people interested in playing on a non-RMAH realm to justify the creation of one.
      Forum posters consist of a very small, extremely opinionated, and quite frankly hypocritical percentage of a games player-base. Websites and forums are terrible metrics for player-base opinion on controversial issues, the developers likely know this and are unwilling to make large changes until they are able to get real data from real players.
      See the video at the bottom of this post by Flux for more info.

    • I’m pretty confident that once the game is out and people are able to absorb themselves in actual game play, rather than anticipating worst case scenarios, this whole controversy will evaporate.  The players who do buy gear are going to blend in with every one else, and no one’s going to give a hoot.

      I know a guy that plays League of Legends (a free game with the option to buy characters and skins), and even though he’s an unemployed adult and lives with his parents, he still has probably spent hundreds of dollars unlocking content in the game.  He’s exactly the kind of guy you think would anger the anti-real money crowd, but when you’re actually playing the game, he blends in with every one and it’s really not a big deal. And this is in the context of a COMPETITIVE game, vs diablo where there’s no scoreboard or other means to compare epeens.

  17. @crazynomad . (and I apologize in advance, cuz some stuff here is affected by my PhD work in economics…)The thing is, and you can listen to the podcast again and again and it won’t change this: the base argument to allowing RMT is the assumption that the game is unfair to those with less time to play it. So allowing money into the equation would level everybody’s experience. BUT, Income is so different for each individual that in reality it would only unlevel the experience in favour of people with high income. thats not leveling the game experience for everyone, its unleveling it. Worse, with a money bias. It’s a game, just play it, enjoy it for the time that you have for doing so. Allowing money to become a major disparity to people’s gaming experience is reproducing the vast majority of our society’s latent problems. In the days of yore yuppies, the unemployed, students and many others were equals whilst playing games for their own entartainment. Now that is not tolerated any more. We have embraced the markets rationality in such a way that now people must buy their success in games. Come on… the point is playing the game, aint it?

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