News recently emerged that Diablo 3 will feature several in-game auction houses. One of these will use in-game gold to buy goods, while the other will use real cash. Putting the argument aside about this being a good or bad idea, I wanted to take a look at what this means for Titan, Blizzard’s next MMO.
It’s likely that Titan will feature an auction house of some description. Depending on how successful the RMT (Real Money Trade) auction house is in Diablo 3, it’s also likely that Titan will have the same kind of setup.
- A gold, BlueBucks or other in-game currency based auction house where commodity items like common crafting materials are bought and sold. The kind of stuff that’s easy to get and will save you a bit of time but nothing more
- A Real Currency based auction house where everything that’s rare gets bought and sold. Hard-to-find crafting materials, rare items and pre-made characters are all likely to end up here.
Yes, it’s possible that the Titan auction house will support character sales too.
While the previous gold-making champions are understandably excited about the potential to make money from Diablo 3, I think they’re missing the point a little. This is a test. Blizzard are getting a feel for the reaction from the players now. Once the game launches they’ll be able to pull off live data to see how it’s actively being used.
The potential for an RMT based auction house in a full-fledged MMO is huge. How huge? Let me show you.
The first one is bundling. Take items that are cheap enough individually and package them together for real cash.
There’s the potential for profession guide and levelling guide writers to put together bundles of raw materials, then sell them on the auction house as a complete pack. Buy their levelling pack for real money and they’ll mail the guide on how to use it free of charge.
There’s the option for crafting teams to group up and put gear packs together. Everything you’d need for your class at that level, with a new pack every ten levels. This already happens in Team Fortress 2. People will buy them for the cool hats alone.
The other process that’ll probably emerge in Titan? Production Lining.
Say you are a crafter with a rare pattern to make something of huge value that sells well on the RMT auction house. You sign up with a crafting conglomerate to produce these items. They provide you with the raw materials, you get a guaranteed market for your product and a cut of the profits. Bingo.
Of course, raw materials don’t grow on trees. Crafting teams are either going to have to gather the materials themselves or find people to supply them at below market rates. Someone who can efficiently supply materials on demand is probably going to do well out of this.
This is the kind of stuff that EVE corporations have been doing for years and I’d expect an influx of them to come in and taste the market.
There’s only one question remaining for all of this. How much do you trust Blizzard?
In Diablo 3, items listed on the RMT auction house are done so anonymously. This is a double edged sword – it means that selling good bundles is going to be tricky. A toggle would be more helpful in order to build up a reputation as a good seller, just like eBay.
More importantly though, you need to know that the people you’re competing against on the auction house are real players. There’s nothing to stop Blizzard from creating an auction with a duplicate item and undercutting you, or flooding the market themselves to manipulate prices. Players will need assurances that the economy is completely “player run”.
Where does this leave the guide writers, the strategists and the guild masters? If I were them, I’d be networking like crazy right now, sketching out plans for when details of Titan start to emerge. Diablo 3 is just a taster.