Well, late again to the party, as usual. I blame the dreamworld, seriously, who dreams of  Resident Evil for 7 hours and calls it a nightmare? Obviously I’m more loopy than I thought, if I’ve sunk that low. But no one wants to hear about hilarious zombie dogs and insomnia, so let’s kick this week into overdrive, starting with a little controversial piece that’s filtered down the grape-vine. Yes folks, we’re going to be going over the new auction house system in Diablo III, and why it is the most retarded and blatantly uncaring thing Blizzard has ever churned out. And if you couldn’t tell from that statement, you’re in for a caustic hate-filled bombshell of a post.

First off, I want to reiterate something that Blizzard seems to have forgotten and just to make sure no one else ever forget. Do not sell power for money. I’m not kidding, do not ever do that. Why, you might ask, should game devs not do that? Well, my silent readers, there are several reasons. Let’s go over them all here for now. First and foremost, you will shatter your player-base. Players who spend money will always be, without exception, more powerful than anyone who doesn’t pay. Now, think for a second on who the devs are going to devote time and energy into balancing the game for. If Player A has double the power of Player B, anything you design with Player B in mind is going to be slaughtered by Player A without any trouble. But anything designed for Player A will be unbeatable by Player B because of the gap in power between the two. So you have this choice; create a garbage experience for one player and a balanced experience for the other, or an ever more garbage experience (if Player B can even complete it) for one and a balanced for the other. No one wins, and no, you can’t create content for both that’s deep enough to entertain for long. In today’s hyper-graphic gaming scene, content takes ages to produce and test, and very quickly players are going to be forced into groups of who gets content and who doesn’t. Which leads us right into the next point…

Peer pressure.Yes, that thing people told you would make you smoke in high school is back with a bloody vengeance in a game like this. Say your playing with a bunch of Player A’s, now you feel like dead weight because of the power they wield compared to yours. What do you do to close the gap? Get better at the game? No, you are already as good as your going to get. Then what, grind hours and hours for the gear to close the gap? Why bother when you could buy it from the auction house. And that little thought is the most insidious of them all. How many of you play Team Fortress 2 and thought, “Why should I grind hour after hour for my shiny new *weapon of your choice* when I could just buy it on the store for $0.99?” How many of you bought it? Then went right back in and bought another item when you wanted it, even if it cost more. Don’t be shy now, raise your hands, and be honest.  I know I did. I love my degreaser flamethrower, and I think it was money well spent. Now, the rest of those items… did I get an equal amount of enjoyment from them? In a word, no. I did get enough entertainment to justify buying a couple for Spy, my second favorite class. But the Soldier item? I never play that class. It was an impulse buy, and I only did it because I had bought from the shop before. Once you buy the first time, no matter how small it was, you are more likely to buy again. It makes sense. The last time I bought something, it made X easier to do, so it wouldn’t hurt to do it again… But, oh yeah, there are level caps. So that sword that made killing easier four levels ago just doesn’t cut it anymore. But instead of buying something to last, like a nice flamethrower, you can only buy an item that will serve you until it’s effectiveness is dulled. Sure, you can’t buy an amazing sword at level one in the game. That would be broken. Instead, you get to buy a bunch of swords ranging from dirt cheap and up as their worth slowly increases.

Why, Blizzard? Why?

That’s just how bad it is for the player. I haven’t even gotten into how badly Blizzard is going to be ripping off the player-base with this thing yet. So, say you want to use the new monetary auction house to gain money. You can bet someone is going to do it. I’m calling it now, a few hours or days or whatever after Diablo 3 goes out, you’ll hear about how some intrepid economist managed to rake in hundreds or thousands of dollars by playing the system. So you want in on that, right? Well, get ready to fork over some money to Blizzard every time. And if you just want to casually sell things? You’re paying the same thing. Everything that goes into the auction house will have a flat cost that has to be paid, every time. Did your auction expire or did you cancel it for some unforeseen reason? Too bad, that money is gone and it’s never coming back. Now, do you want to know why that’s bad? It’s look at a similar auction house for a second…

Thank you, google image search.

If you can’t see it, that right there is a single copper undercut. Now in World of Warcraft, crap like that is annoying, because people will always buy the cheapest thing available to them. If you want your item to sell, you have to take it down and relist it, or risk losing out on the first sale. If it’s an item of some rarity, most people will only buy one anyways, so losing the first can be the same as losing them all. This is already annoying in games like WoW because you lose the deposit on the item. But in the new auction house? You lose real money when you relist that item, money that is never coming back. And your going to have to pay again when you relist it. And pay every time it goes up in the auction house. Think that’s bad? It gets worse.

Next, Blizzard will charge you again when you succeed in making a sale. Yep, when you finally sell that item for some real world money, you’re going to have another flat fee deducted from the amount you won, and you won’t be seeing that either. So now you get charged for as many times as you put an item up for sale, undercuts be damned, and whenever you actually manage to get rid of the thing. Sounds like now would be the time to sit back and roll in the virtual money as your bank account statement climbs up. Only it’s not. Why? You sold the item! Well… tough luck again. You don’t actually own that money, or at least, you don’t own it yet. No, when you sell an item, the money you ‘get’ is handled by a third-party for you, and you can use it as much as you want… in Diablo 3. Remember what I said about purchases being easier after the first? You might want to keep that in mind, because…

Cash Out fee. You want your money from that as-of-yet-unannounced third-party? Well, you’re going to have to pay them to get the money out of whatever virtual hell they are storing it in before it ever reaches your bank account. So, that item you wanted to sell before for a little extra cash? Flat charge fee for every time it goes up, fee on every item sold, and a cash out fee for having the gall to not spend more money on this game and wanting to spend it on something else.

How the hell did this ever pass? This kind of system is poison for the game. And before anyone comes in and says there is still an auction house that uses in-game currency and not real world money, you can buy in-game currency too. The whole thing is inescapable as one auction house pollutes another. Blizzard used to fight gold sellers and spammers who wanted to either con you out of your account or nickle-and-dime you out of every penny they could, only now they seem to have embraced that entire pollutant subculture wholeheartedly. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if they started selling Blizzard-Endorsed bots that played the game for you. I’m not even going to get started on the stupid Always-On DRM scheme they’ve shoved into this thing or the fact that all mod content is banned, despite using ideas from old mods for the older Diablos, all I want to know is what happened to the old Blizzard* I used to love?

*The first person who blames Activision for this is getting a scathing missile of hate guided right at them. Blizzard has always said Activision has left them alone to do their own thing, and it’s time people started treating Blizzard like they deserve, instead of heaping the praise on Blizzard and the hate on Activision. You wanted autonomy, you got it Blizzard. What the hell were you thinking?