Earlier today, Blizzard Entertainment game design EVP Rob Pardo revealed that its upcoming action RPG title Diablo 3 will feature an auction system that lets players trade their in-game items such as gear and gold for real money.
“Each currency region will have its own auction house, accessible in-game. Players must pay a flat listing fee per item and set initial bids and buyout prices. Buyers can set their bids to automatically increase up to set levels rather than paying the buyout price, if they wish. When the item sells, Blizzard takes a flat cut of the sale, and the seller can choose to cash it out via a third-party payment processor (which will charge a percentage fee) or to leave it in their Battle.net account to use on any Blizzard digital product. These purchases could vary from full games to World of Warcraft subscriptions and sparkleponies.
Once you transfer your funds to Battle.net, though, you can’t choose to cash it back out into currency. Getting money out of the system is a one-time opportunity at the time of the sale. Blizzard says that this is for legal reasons; apparently if the company lets players withdraw money at will, it would face many additional legal requirements just like a bank.
Any item in the game can be put up for auction, and you can set the price wherever you like. Blizzard expects prices to stabilize in the single-digit dollar range for most good items, with perhaps a few exceptional ones making it to double digits. That sounds about right as a back-of-the-napkin estimate, based on what we’ve seen in secondary markets for other games.
Blizzard says it will not sell items directly. The auction house is strictly a player-to-player market – not that players would have any way to tell if the company slipped a few items into the economy, since the auction house is anonymous both ways. You’ll never know who sold you an item, or who bought one of yours. There is no reason to assume bad faith on Blizzard’s part here, but the fact remains that there is no transparency.
All cash transactions must go through the auction house. You can still trade with your friends and give them items in-game just like in Diablo II, but you can’t make any trades involving cash outside the auction house.
A parallel in-game gold auction house will function identically with gold as the currency instead of dollars, euros, or pounds sterling. All of the functionality is shared between both markets.
Hardcore characters – in Diablo terms, characters that are deleted upon death – are excluded from the real money auction house. They can still use the gold auction house, but all hardcore characters are permanently barred from the real money side.”
Source: Game Informer