The Reality of the Diablo 3 Auction House

We know that the D3 Auction House will be revolutionary, mixing real-world money into a virtual economy. Some people have even suggested it could lead to murder. But as we approach its launch date, what’s the reality looking like?

Today we’ve got a supremely interesting article from Brunpal at Jaded Alt, examining how the Diablo III AH has eventually shaped up, and what you can expect from it in future

“The Diablo 3 AH interface is TERRIBLE. It’s hard to make something worse than the default WoW AH but Blizzard managed it. There’s plenty of interface ideas they could have used from WoW addons but instead they made it worse. Blizzard is taking a cut of everything which stunned me. The AH also has a limit of 10 simultaneous listings with no ability to cancel a listing. It appears to have been purposely designed to be awful. It fails in every conceivable way.

Given all the problems with the AH it will encourage people quickly to find other ways to trade. Since you can trade gold/items directly to other characters (exactly like in WoW) that “other way” is instantly obvious. Enter the grey market.

I expect that a website will pop up to facilitate trades between individuals. Even a simple forum of WTS/WTB listings would be enough. It won’t take long for something more complex to pop up even if it’s just a Craig’s List clone… (Only if there is real money to be made.) Blizzard has no way to stop that short of banning trades all together which obviously will piss off a lot of people so Blizzard won’t do that. My personal guess is that all the discussion around the $AH and how it affects the industry will be moot.”

OK, I will admit I’m an economy junkie. But this is really fascinating stuff – both the raw information, and Brunpal’s analysis. Much of it is waaaaaaay away from what we expected, and it’s all really interesting. Brunpal’s done a great job here.

It may be worth noting that it’s also looking like D3’s economy will be extremely interesting in much the same way as a major motorway pile-up. The combination of virtual hyperinflation, the already-existing D3 gold guide market, the heinous fees, Brunpal’s prediction of a rapidly-emergent grey market, and all the rest means that whilst it’ll be fascinating to watch, I wouldn’t want to be involved in the economy directly in anything but the most casual way. (If you are likely to get involved, Brunpal also gives some tips for avoiding the most heinous of the fees!).

I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about Diablo III’s economy in the coming weeks – but for now, if you’re interested at all, this is the best analysis I’ve seen of what’s likely to shake out.

What do you think will happen with Diablo 3’s economy?