This Friday will see the European launch of Diablo 3‘s Real Money Auction House. The RAMH, as it is known to close friends, offers in-game purchases of Diabolical goodies.
One weird side-effect of established Massively Multiplayer games like Diablo or World of Warcraft is a black market in in-game items or characters, with hardcore players (some professional) grinding away to get the best loot and then selling it to cash rich newbies via eBay or other marketplaces. While developers and studios may unofficially tolerate the practice, it does make games hard to balance and – more importantly – makes them watch while somebody else gets rich from their games.
In an attempt to seize control of this odd phenomenon, Blizzard has created the Real Money Auction House for Diablo 3. The RAMH is an official marketplace for in-game items, letting you spend real spondoolahs in return for magic items, armour and other useful kit. Players will also be able to exchange in-game items for (virtual) cash and spend money found in the game via an exchange rate. Keeping it in-house not only makes it easier to control the game economy but also gives Blizzard a juicy piece of the pie.
In preparation for the RAMH’s arrival in the US last week, Blizzard has been squashing any bugs with the game that might allow players to exploit the in game economy or acquire loot through underhand means. Even if they miss a glitch, the studio has threatened instant bans for anyone trying to make a fast buck.