Blizzard Announcements and the Community
A few days ago, Blizzard announced that they would be putting a Real Currency auction house into Diablo 3. Since Diablo 3 is still in pre-release beta, there’s always the chance it will get scrapped, but the concept is still out there. And the first thing the WoW community did? Start speculating on what this means for WoW in the future.
Gold farming is a fact of life in the WoW economy. There’s a huge grey market for WoW gold, and some speculate that the best way Blizzard can stop it is to sell gold themselves. The announcement about D3 has folks supposing it might be the direction that Blizzard wants to take WoW auctions. Others bring up scary scenarios about deceit, 14-year-olds ninjaing goods they think they can make real cash from and so forth. We do love to speculate.
WoW Insider’s Mat McCurly doesn’t think it’s likely. I read many of Mat’s articles with interest, and when I’m not particularly up on a topic that has something to do with the way Blizzard does business, I actually tend to give Mat the benefit of the doubt. But that’s just how I roll. For the most part, that’s because I know that Blizzard will do what they believe will keep WoW on the top of the market, and whether or not I personally like what they’re doing isn’t going to matter all that much. If, for instance, Blizzard were to make all of their PvE realms PvP, I would stop playing. If I were the only one to stop playing, it wouldn’t matter. But that scenario would probably leave Blizzard with a chunk of lost subscriptions, so they’re probably not going to take away my happy little PvE world.
Would I stop playing the game if there was a real money auction house in WoW? Almost certainly not. In fact, I’d probably use it to sell goods, and if I got enough real dollars to buy something I wanted from the same auction house, I’d probably use those funds to do it. But. I’m not a raider or PvPer, so I really don’t care what anyone else does with their toons. I don’t have to vie with anyone who would potentially spend real-world cash on items that are more than cosmetic for a raid spot, or fight against them in the Arenas. So, I don’t have a particular stake in the game.
My understanding of the subject is limited, but I do understand that D3’s looting system is quite different from WoW’s. There’s no “rolling on items” what you loot is yours. What he loots is his. If my experience playing D2 is any indication, getting item sets from Diablo is nearly impossible without some sort of trading system. Diablo also has no professions. The only way to get better armor is for the RNG to love you, or to be able to trade for it. So, the competition is completely different. Oh, and one more thing, I’m led to believe Diablo3 is free to play, making in-game microtransactions the only way for Blizzard to increase profits over game sales.
This is all speculation. Well, except the announcement thing. That’s about as tangible as we can get before release of a game. Since I don’t plan to play D3, and Blizzard has not announced any changes to the Auction House system in WoW, it affects me not at all. Except that the WoW sites I read are all abuzz. I’m sure Blizzard is reading at least some of this with interest. After all, what better way to judge the reaction of your audience than to watch them speculate about what you’re going to do next?