Have Your Profit And Prevent Some Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Too

Blizzard Entertainment, the folks behind such successful games series as Starcraft and Warcraft, have another way to get some money out of their fans. When Diablo III is released, players will be able to use real cash to buy digital items.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Essentially, Blizzard is creating an in-game Ebay system that it will oversee, and take a nominal fee for each transaction. Players will be allowed to buy and sell items using in-game gold, or purchase and sell virtual goods using real cash. Players can sell in-game items and then use that money towards subscription payments or other in-game purchases, or cash out and pay a fixed percentage-based withdrawal fee. An unannounced third-party financial institution will handle transfers of virtual sales to players’ real bank accounts.

Trading real currency for digital goods isn’t entirely new — users of Second Life has been doing it for years — but a game publisher doing it themselves for one of their titles is new. There’s been an after-market for gold or rare items among fans for a while; personally, I remember hearing stories about items from 1999’s EverQuest getting sold on eBay and causing all kinds of problems when a seller wouldn’t deliver. Now, Blizzard can manage it themselves, making sure you get your bejeweled ax and that they get a cut of the profit.

But that wasn’t the first thing I thought when I read this story. Immediately, I wondered if this would prevent situations like the alleged World of Warcraft gold farms being operated in Chinese prisons. The blog techyum has a good rundown of the situation, where prisoners would repeat monotonous tasks over the course of twelve hour shifts to generate gold, so the prison guards could sell it for real money.

If Blizzard can keep 100,000 prisoners — the number techyum quotes from a Guardian article — from destroying their wrists and eyes while making a profit, that’s probably a good day for them.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.

2 thoughts on “Have Your Profit And Prevent Some Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Too”

  1. Yes, but what’s there to prevent the guards from selling over the in-game auction system? What Blizzard needs is to get at the root of the problem and find some way of controlling inflation. (My SO has devoted hours to pondering, and pontificating on this subject.) I suspect it will require such popular things as ‘income tax’ and ‘interest’ as well as regulations to prevent individuals and organizations from buying up mats etc and forming monopolies. So, in short, real life. Hmm, this would make a good thesis subject….

  2. I was thinking that something like gold farming specifically would go down, simply because individuals would no longer have to purchase gold from someone who is not Blizzard to get a crown or a cape or whatever.

    The Prisoners As For-Profit RPG Players thing would have to adjust itself to be about getting rare items, which wouldn’t have the relatively guaranteed returns of gold farming. Or maybe I’m missing something?

    And all this depends on Blizzard players, who I understand to be a little persnickety about too many restrictions from the Mother Publishers, not rejecting the system altogether. (For evidence of said persnickety-ness, see the whole Real ID issue.)

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