Not sure if anyone knew this, but RMAH purchases (even in Blizzard Bucks) are taxed, too.
Yup, that's how they make money from it - every time a transaction takes place, they take a cut. Because it's all anonymous, they could even create items themselves and sell them directly, nobody would know (not that I'm suggesting they are doing that, just that there's nothing stopping them).
They also "tax" purchases on the GAH (the in-game currency gold auction house, for those not familiar with the term), which is presumably why some players prefer to trade directly in-game. The problem is the in-game trading tool isn't very secure, so some people get scammed.
P.S.: Be aware that Blizzard Bucks can "expire" after a certain period of time. I don't know exactly how long, but if you get bored of D3 and have nothing to spend them on you may want to get a friend to help you convert them to into real cash.
EDIT: Oh wait, you mean you pay "real" tax in addition to Blizzard's transaction fee/tax?
Grim Dawn got a reference in there. Didn't know many people knew about it.
Torchlight II has had a 40% increase in pre-sales on Steam since the release of Diablo III, and I suspect other games in the genre have benefitted from additional exposure as well.
I only heard about Grim Dawn, Torchlight II, Path of Exile and Lineage Eternal after reading complaints about Diablo III. Personally I've ordered Torchlight II on Steam (45 for the "4-pack" deal - that's 4 pre-ordered copies of Torchlight II, and 4 copies of the original Torchlight, which I've split with 3 other people - so it works out at 11.25 each).
Just a(nother) RMAH warning since a lot of you are ex-pats or otherwise living overseas. Apparently if you do a country change on your Battle.net account, you forfeit any funds in it.
This gentleman added $200 to his account; no problem. It went through a 24hr audit; no problem. Then he makes a purchase; it goes through an audit…Problem! His account was suspended due to the fact that it is registered in a different country than where he has lived for a few years now (always keep your account info up-to-date, perhaps?). He can have his account unlocked by changing his country registration. By changing his country registration he forfeits any Blizzbucks balance. So…He either pays a $200 "tax" to unlock his account, or has to buy a new account, again, still forfeiting his game purchase and Blizzbucks balance.
The top difficulty level is "inferno". If you wish to play inferno, you need exceptional equipment, and the only feasible way to get it is through the auction house - either with real money, or with vast amounts of gold.
However D3 is very streamlined, to the point where your stats are automatically assigned and you gain access to all the abilities for your class (although you can only have 9 active at a time). Thus the only thing that really differentiates you from other characters is your gear; from an advancement perspective, gold (or $$$) becomes your "exp", and your upgrades are purchased in the auction house.
Conceptually that doesn't seem so bad. But because the reward (getting cool new gear) comes from the auction house, while the boring grind is done within the game, I'm actually finding myself spending more time in the auction house than within the game itself. I've even started finding ways to earn gold directly from the auction house, avoiding the need to play at all. But if I'm not playing, what's the point in having more gold and better gear?
Playing D2 was exciting, even with grinding, because each new drop could potentially be something amazing. Playing D3 is just a matter of earning enough gold that I can get back into the auction house. I guess I could have avoided using the auction house, but that would have seriously impacted my ability to progress - and frustration kills my interest even faster than boredom; the gameplay has clearly been designed around using the auction house.
Still, it's given me some interesting food for thought, and I've picked up a few new ideas for my mud. In particular, it's made me look at my own game in a more critical light, as GW2 also suffers from a similar lack of endgame activities. I've actually been harvesting the D3 forums for suggestions!
It's very ranty, but it covers a number of interesting topics, and includes links to several other related articles.
Grim Dawn got a reference in there. Didn't know many people knew about it.
What do you mean? Haven't you been to their forums or the titanquest.net forums? There's tons of loyal Crate fans and customers. :)
Also, people still play D3? Paid beta test for an auction house with a mini-arpg built in…
EDIT: I see KaVir touched a little bit on what I was talking about… When I started only getting upgrades from the AH instead of actually playing the game, that's when I knew I was no longer going to play… I've played Blizzard games since Warcraft: Orcs and Humans but I'm over it. :)
Since Activision came into the picture, they've slowly gone downhill until we have what we have today.
Posted this on reddit and the Diablo forums, thought I'd repost it here as well as it's less likely to be buried. Yeah it's satirical, but writing it did make me think it would make an interesting experiment.
Proposal for offline mode
My apologies for the wall of text, but this is a complex issue and therefore requires a detailed solution.
Many people have complained about the online-only restrictions of Diablo 3, but I've yet to see anyone put forward a serious proposal for an offline mode that retained the essence of the online game. The recent discussions about Vivendi selling their stake in Activision Blizzard have made me wonder about the future of the Diablo 3 - what would happen if Battle.net closed? Could we still play? Would it even be possible to retain the same feel in an offline mode?
So I started thinking about the features specific to the online game, and tried to think how they could be transferred to an offline version. Here are my thoughts as to how it might be done:
GAH: When you first start up the game, the auction house could generate tens of thousands of random items and assign them a gold value based on various criteria. These items could be viewed and purchased through the auction house normally, and as the whole process is anonymous it should retain exactly the same feel as the online version. A simple algorithm could regularly iterate through the items, using fuzzy logic to place bids and make the occasional buyout. The same algorithm used for calculating item value could also purchase some of the items the player puts up for sale, with the likelihood based on how reasonably their price is set.
RMAH: The same as the GAH, but the player can purchase items with real money (so Blizzard won't lose potential earnings if people play offline). They can also put items up for sale, and any money earned will be moved to a "Battle.net wallet" which can be used to make other RMHA purchases. Care should be taken not to let money actually leave the game, because obviously other players aren't really paying for them - if the player tries, they can just be told that their item was lost due to an error.
Item creation: Items can be pregenerated and cached for later use. A filter can assess the approximate value of the item, with the top 5% being reserved for the RMAH, the bottom 5% reserved for in-game drops, and the remainder going into the GAH. In order to encourage players to diversify their tactics, the chances of dropping each item type should be inversely proportional to the amount it's used - for example if the player always uses melee weapons, give them an incentive to try something new by significantly increasing the drop rate of quivers.
Item nerfs: Players tend to gravitate towards the most effective strategies, therefore it should be viable to design an automated nerf system. First you need to generate a build summary of the player's equipment by weighing up the relative emphasis they've placed on each bonus type, then you weaken that bonus type. For example, if a summary of Bob the Barbarian reveals a strong focus on IAS, the nerf system might half the benefit of IAS. If the penalty still doesn't deter him, double it.
Skill nerfs: The same process as item nerfs - monitor which skills the player uses, and nerf them. In games with locked skill trees/webs, a skill nerf can be very annoying, because it can permanently cripple a previously viable build. But in Diablo 3 you can freely rearrange your skills and runes, so the player will actually be thankful for the incentive to try out something new.
Farming nerfs: Just as skilled players tend to use the most effective gear and skills, so they also tend to farm the most profitable locations, and once again the nerf system can address this by monitoring their playing habits. Is the player spending a lot of time breaking jars? Nerf them. Are they repeatedly killing treasure goblins? Nerf them. Do they always hunt purple elites? Nerf them. Does the player spend hours zoomed in on Karyna's boobs? Nerf them - heck, remove the Mystic artisan from the game entirely! This will encourage the player to constantly move around and look for new places to grind, experiencing the full game rather than always staying in the same spot.
Patches: The nerf system requires extensive trend analysis, so it should spend at least a few days collecting data before applying any changes. As this process can potentially require significant number crunching, the player may have to wait for a few hours of "maintenance" the next time they want to play, but as we're trying to recreate the feel of the online game this is actually working as intended. The nerfs can all be applied simultaneously in one big patch, and the process can start again.
Public chat: Simulating a natural language conversation is extremely complex, and has been the subject of considerable research and debate. One of the earliest implementations was ELIZA, written between 1964 and 1966, which used pattern matching techniques that were sufficient to fool several users. The concept spawned the idea of chatbots, modern versions of which combine real-time learning with evolutionary algorithms. However for the purposes of Diablo 3, it should be sufficient to spam the user with adverts for cheap gold.
Public games: Although Diablo 3 is primarily a single-player game, and most people I know either play on their own or with friends (the latter of which could be handled through LAN and direct play modes), some people do like to play with strangers online. On the surface this might sound difficult to implement, but as we're only trying to simulate the existing public games, there's already the expectation of playing with someone who's either idle, or a bot. These could be handled through the same AI that controls followers and pets.
For the die-hard online fans it should also be relatively easy to introduce random disconnections, rubber-banding, and even simulated compromised accounts (perhaps even with a "hardcore" mode, that deletes your character as well as stealing your gold and gear). However I'd rather keep these optional for the offline version, if possible.
Skimming it earlier, I thought you were serious (and a masochist).
Just caught the tongue in cheek, though.
There's references to a lot of memes that you might not get if you've not been following the game - comments originally made by the staff such as "working as intended", "aren't you thankful?", "and then we doubled it", which players now frequently quote in response to complaints.
There's also references to other observations and complaints, such as the strangely high drop rate of things like quivers, that all the best gear is in the auction house, the heavy nerfing of popular build choices and farming spots (the examples I listed have all actually happened), auction items being lost due to errors, etc. I became increasely less subtle towards the end though, so even someone unfamiliar with the game should realise that the last few points aren't serious.
However the underlying point is that you really could simulate these things, and I believe you could probably do it well enough that a lot of players wouldn't actually realise they were playing offline. But looking over that list, would you actually want any of those features in an offline game that you usually play solo? I certainly wouldn't. And I think that makes an interesting statement about the online game. As they would say on the Diablo forums, "aren't you thankful?"
As I mentioned before, the item drops are rarely worthwhile (all of my best gear comes from the auction house), so most people concentrate on farming gold instead. However I find that pretty boring, so now I just stick to using the auction house.
Every evening I log on to the auction house, collect my winnings, and put some items up for sale to replace any that successfully sold, then I search for new items that I can sell for a profit. Typically this involves a search for rings and amulets in the level range 57-59 with 40+ resist all and vitality, and I place bids on anything below 3K. I resell them with a starting bid of 9K and a buyout of 19-39K, depending on stats. This certainly isn't big league, but I make more money than I did from actually playing (in fact I mostly lose money when I play, unless I go back to an earlier difficulty, because the repair costs are so high).
The whole process only takes a few minutes, but it gives me a strange feeling of dj vu, and I've just realised what it reminds me of. Farmville.
Huhu it is only halfway than I realised it was actually a joke. (And yet another problems with a real money auction house: the latest invincible barbarian class bug) The most enjoying part of this game is looking at all the funny mess it generates. And all that for free as I resisted the urge to give them any money as soon as I learned about this real money auction house :)
I've played less and less each week. Last week I may have logged in once to check my (yet again, unsold) auctions. I was enjoying playing the AH, when I had a quick turn-around on merchandise, but I've had zero sales on some solid items for almost 3 weeks now, with constantly slashing my prices well below what they are worth. Less people playing, less people looking at the GAH over the RMAH, and more people with an obscene amount of gold buying top-tier gear instead of the starter to mid-range items I sell.
I've pretty much thrown in the towel until the next patch; if anything substantially changes then. I "beat" the game in Inferno mode, and for a time was having fun doing achievements….But even some of those are still "known bugged", and the fun I had flipping items on the AH is gone, too. What else is there for me to do? Any gear upgrades are, as mentioned, from the AH. Which also means they are obscenely expensive. I don't want to farm gold aside from AH flipping, but that's not working for me any further so…Now what? I did level two other classes to 60, but even that was dull. The rapid grinding rush to "get to the end"; just felt like WoW all over thinking "Now the real game will start!", but it doesn't. Even my group of 5 or 6 IRL pals who were playing have about all died off.
I decided to work on my character on the US servers for a change (as my main character is still struggling with act 2 inferno). I'd already got to level 14 while the EU servers were down, but hadn't gotten any further, so I thought it'd be interesting to go back and see how well I could apply my auction house techniques.
With a starting budget of 4500 gold I was able to bid on just 2-3 high-level amulets at a time, so it took a few tries before I was able to win anything. It took even longer before I was able to resell it, perhaps a week or so, but it didn't require much effort just to log on for a few minutes every couple of days. Once I'd sold it I immediately reinvested the gold (around 25K) into a load more amulets and rings, and things sped up - I made several successful purchases, flipped them, and sold most of them within a few hours, rapidly racking up the gold.
I decked myself out with decent gear for my level, started collecting level 60 gear as well, and continued to build up my stock of rings and amulets. I've also started leveling the character - with the decent gear I can rip through everything and rarely take any damage.
The amount of gold dropped by monsters is insignificant compared to what I'm earning on the auction house, so I don't go out of my way to pick it up. Likewise, the item drops are all junk compared to what I'm buying, so I only really pick it up (and vendor it) out of habit. The only reason to log in is to earn levels and progress through the acts, neither of which require any real effort.
I was happily playing diablo inferno with a few friends I have just for the difficulty, but as my gear got powerful (admittedly took a while) the fun completely evaporated. I was able to regain some of that fun by picking exotic abilities, but ultimately the best abilities for a wizard with 55% critical rate is a critical mass build taking advantage of the fact you can permanently stun every pack of elites and most bosses you come across while dealing very high AOE damage. This coupled with never seeing an item upgrade or anything that even sells now that the economy has started to deflate has made it a rarity for me to even log in now.