MMORPG titan Blizzard has announced new information about the developer’s highly anticipated Diablo III title, and it’s sent the gaming community reeling. There are some big changes coming to the third major installment of a franchise that’s been hugely popular since its 1996 birth.
First, players can now officially buy and sell in-game items for real money. Diablo III‘s auction house will include both in-game and real life currency counterparts. Interestingly, all of the items in the auction houses will be listed by players who found them while playing; Blizzard won’t list any extra items which may give more stability to the auction economy. Blizzard plans on charging a “nominal” listing fee, although the exact price has yet to be decided, as well as taking another small cut when the item is sold. Both charges will be the same for any listing, not percentage based. Players can either deposit their money into their Blizzard account or cash out with third-party services for an additional fee.
Partly influenced by the new auction house, Blizzard has decided to only allow Diablo III to be played online. While this has proved shocking to some, Blizzard argues that it’s the only way they can be sure that people aren’t cheating. With real money on the line, it wouldn’t do to allow someone to level up extremely quickly by cheating offline before signing into Blizzard’s servers. The option to let players have separate offline and online characters was nixed by Blizzard, who deemed that players were unlikely to want to put in the effort to level up two characters. While that reasoning might be suspect, forcing players to only play online does eliminate one problem: piracy. Blizzard will now be able to authenticate every user who plays the game, which may mean a push to online-only gaming becomes more popular.
Finally, Blizzard has expressly prohibited game mods. Both the Diablo franchise and Blizzard games in general have a history of allowing modding, from custom auction house searches in World of Warcraft to advanced editing abilities that can fundamentally alter gameplay in StarCraft 2. With no offline option, there’s no place for gameplay experimentation, and Blizzard won’t allow potential advantages in the auction house with automated searches.
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