It’s no Auction House, but real money may be coming back to Diablo 3

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The next patch for Diablo III includes a number of features that point toward the addition of microtransactions to Blizzard’s action role-playing game, but not in a way that affects players in the Americas or Europe (yet, at least). The developer posted an update on the game’s forum to clarify the regional specificity of these new features, getting out ahead of the data miners that will inevitably pore over the patch code for details.

Among the pertinent features being added in patch 2.2.0 is a new in-game currency called Platinum, along with ways to spend it. It’s not quite a return to the controversial Auction House;  Platinum can be used to buy timed experience boosts, an assortment of cosmetic items (wings, portraits, and non-combat pets), and the ability to purchase more stash space and more character slots.

With Europe and the Americas out of the equation, that leaves Asia as the most likely candidate for Platinum’s test bed. Microtransaction-supported games have done well in Asia, particularly in China due to (recently lifted) restrictions on console sales driving gamer interest toward computers and online play. For the time being, Blizzard is insistent that there are no plans “anytime soon” to implement these features in Western regions.