Diablo 3: More Auction House Drama
One of the major revenue holes World of Warcraft has is the fact that players can buy and sell items in the auction house for game gold. They then, against the rules, sell the gold in real world exchanges for some real cold hard cash. Asides from the price of the software and monthly subscription fees, World of Warcraft and its parent company, Activision, don’t make anything out of this lucrative multimillion dollar market for virtual currency.
Determined not to repeat designing a revenue hole into its upcoming highly anticipated dungeon stomper game, Diablo 3, Activision has announced earlier that the company will be charging a fee for the auction house. This means that players can now use real world currency to buy and sell game items. More importantly, it gives Blizzard a revenue stake in in-game commercial dealings. The game launches on May 15 and in anticipation of many players’ questions regarding how the auction house will operate, Blizzard has released some details. Buying items is fairly straightforward; you enter search parameters for items you are searching, and you can set a price range. Once you find an item you want to bid for, you enter a bid or you can buy the item through a “buy it now” type of function reminiscent of ebay auctions. Selling is pretty straightforward too; they find an item they wish to part with, set a minimum bid price and an optional buyout amount. All real cash transactions are linked to players’ Battle.net accounts and, if they wish, can be sent to a third-party payment service like Paypal. As for fees, there is some complexity, but it is manageable.
For equipment, there is a 15% fee off the final sale price if you use the Gold auction house. For real money auction houses, the fee is $1 USD per item. If you wish to transfer your earnings to Paypal or other payment provider, the fee is a whopping 15% of the amount you are transferring. For commodities, both gold and real money auction houses will set you back 15%. Given the high rates, Blizzard will be making quite a bit of money off the system-specially if the game manages to rack up a huge subscriber base.