There is some pretty big news today regarding Diablo III. Imagine my surprise this morning when I was reading Ars Technica and saw an article about Blizzard allowing players to sell their loot for real world cash. Now, I’m certain if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written or listened to me speak you know that I’m pretty negative towards “freemium” and “real money transaction” games. I really just don’t like the dark path they take MMORPGs down. As such, expecting that I’ll rant on this particular topic would normally be dead on accurate. In this case, however, I can sum up this story with two letters: eh.
I really fail to see the impact that this system has on anyone. Blizzard isn’t selling the loot to players. The loot that is being sold is strictly limited. If I get something amazing that I don’t need I can sell it to another player for real money. Blizzard takes a small cut and everyone is happy. New items aren’t being introduced into the economy by a credit card transaction and, unlike in original EverQuest, players can’t monopolize highly lucrative items to sell. It really comes down to spending time to farm instances for the random chance at something valuable. If I don’t want to buy an item how could I possibly be impacted? As far as I can tell, I can’t.
Blizzard, like many gaming companies, likes to use the time vs money argument in these cases. “There are some people out there that don’t have the ability to put a time investment into the game, so they do want to use real-world money to kind of advance their character,” It is a argument that I really dislike when it validates cash shops in the MMORPGs I love. In those games where we have “sudo-competition” I feel like whoever has the most money cheapens everything that we have to work for. If it takes me 40 hours to earn an item and someone can buy it in 30 seconds for $2.00 it gives me cause to question why I should bother playing. Cash shops destroy the perceived worth of items and the machinations to earn them. This is why some EQ items were so valuable. In Diablo III this is just a transfer of wealth from one player to another. Someone in the chain had to work for the item. I have no qualms with someone else being the beneficiary of that work (capitalism ho). Ultimately if you don’t play the game and just spend your money to progress you’re cheating yourself out of the experience and, in my eyes, you have every right to do so.
I actually like this
As crazy as this sounds, I like this. I like this a lot. I like this more than I feel like I should like this. This is a far better option than a cash shop. This is the first RMT scheme that made me say, “Oh wow, why doesn’t everyone do this?” One player puts time into the game and another uses money. Blizzard isn’t a participant in this process in any way. Breastplates of Frozen Squirrels aren’t stamped out in short order by a soulless web form. The supply is limited by the amount of effort we as a player community put in. This wise company takes just enough to wet their beak. To me, this is awesome. I will gladly take some of the loot I don’t need and sell it off. It sure beats what I normally do with it. If I enjoy playing the game anyway and I can make a little extra money from that, why not do so? Does that mean Johny Shiftless gets a leg up on me? You could argue he does but who cares? The game is story driven and completely instanced. How can he possibly affect my game play? The truth is he can’t so let him spend his hard earned cash. I’ll be glad to take it!
This already happens anyway. Might as well make it legal and tax it!