Amid a swarm of controversy and several delays, Diablo III’s Real Money Auction House finally launched in the Americas on June 12, 2012. Designed to allow players who would rather not spend hundreds of hours farming inferior bosses easy access to the upgrades they need, the RHAM will also encourage lucky players to make a few extra dollars while adventuring.
The term “lucky” is used because there is really only so much one can do to improve their odds of finding epic loot. Playing on the later acts of Inferno will certainly increase those odds, as will wearing a sufficient amount of magic find gear, but inevitably it is left up to the fates if your backpack will end up mired in trash or lined with riches.
Here’s what you should know and our opinions on the matter:
Blizzard takes a cut. It should be fairly obvious that Blizzard would never implement a radical innovation such as a RMAH unless it could reap some measure of personal profit. A $1.00 (or equivalent) transaction fee will be charged to any piece of equipment, which should discourage spammers from posting a sea of penny auctions. All commodity items (gems, crafting materials, gold) will be charged a 15% transaction fee. In addition the GAH charges a 15% transaction fee for all purchases. At first glance it makes little sense why Blizzard would employ fees on virtual exchanges, but considering that currency can be swapped between auction houses the fee makes more sense.
Those who prefer to use Paypal for their transaction must authenticate their accounts first. This process is fairly standard, but will prove arduous if you do not have access to a smart phone. Additionally, if you cannot procure the mobile app expect to shell out a few dollars on a physical authenticator. This process can be bypassed if you choose to use a major credit card for your purchases.
Blizzard is staying out of it. They will not be selling items or setting severe limitations on how items should be priced. Based on the belief that the economy will eventually stabilize thanks to supply and demand, Blizzard is happy to just sit back and watch how things unfold. Obviously, they will still have to deal with the slew of security breeches that will invariably come up.
The RHAM is not fully functional – we know this comes as a big surprise. Commodities cannot yet be sold, nor can gold be traded for money. Considering that the latter will likely represent the bulk of RMAH transactions, it is still yet to be determined just how successful the system will really be. A quick glance reveals that many top end items are currently being sold for absurd amounts – some as much as 4-5 times the retail price of Diablo III. These sky high prices will likely moderate over the coming weeks, especially with the implementation of patch 1.0.3 (whenever that is). But whether or not they will become affordable to the average bloke is yet to be seen.
So what do we think about the RMAH? For one, demand is going to exceed supply by a drastic margin, and this margin will only increase as time goes on. Our suggestion would be to only list the items that feature a perfect composition of stats. Otherwise expect your items to rot in AH purgatory. Secondly, it’s almost a guarantee that at some point, users accounts will be hacked, causing a scandal. Finally, we wouldn’t be overly surprised to see the RMAH removed at some point, or banned in more countries. It is a form of gambling – in a sense – and may not sit well with the judging committees of some nations.
For now, I’ll stick with the GAH and my hundred Butcher runs.