Random thoughts about Diablo 3

Posted by Daeity On Monday, August 22, 2011

* Unannounced features in Diablo 3?

This topic should have some pretty fun speculation. I wonder, for example, if there's going to be a special menu for the virtual merchandise you can purchase from the Blizzard store. For example, a pet container, pet skins, or other visual appearances like in World of Warcraft.

I had always thought that an "Art Style" feature in the game would be a really brilliant idea considering the D3 art controversy. It wouldn't be that hard to do, and players would love it. Normally, they'd just do it themselves through graphics mods. but those have been restricted. So, what if Blizzard were to implement a feature to turn on or off "Classic Diablo Art Style" versus "Diablo 3 Art Style"? Much like switching back and forth between control schemes. Not only would that be awesome, but it would also demonstrate that Blizzard listens to their customers. :)

It would be fairly straightforwards too; apply a filter, adjust contrast levels, turn off glows, tone down special effects, turn off bloom, change ambient light effects, alter player light radius, palette swap out, and even possibly have alternative graphics content available.

Maybe a future patch?

* Blizzard Coercion

If you followed Diablo tweets, you might have caught this earlier inappropriateness during Gamescom.

#D3 is up for a People's Choice Award at @IGNUK If we win we'll release the beta, or will we!? Only one way to be sure. http://ow.ly/67OC4
That's not even funny. They're basically saying, "vote for us or else". If you vote, we might release it early.. if you don't vote, we'll withhold the beta.

That's just terrible. Was this another great PR idea? Or were they just getting all of their pre-Blizzcon trolling out of the way so that they don't have another Paul Sams incident? With everything being announced this year, I hope they won't have time for another "Geek Is.." speech either. >:(

* Illegal Online Gambling?

Online gambling is illegal for the most part in the US. And, Blizzard has stated that their lawyers have looked into the Diablo 3 game, don't consider it gambling, and players are all assuming it's perfectly safe.. but is it really?

I wonder how long it will take before certain people with connections wise up and start asking the right questions? Say for example, making inquiries to a State Representative, an Anti-Gambling Coalition, members of the Government, or maybe even the FBI Cybercrime disivision?

The Real Money Auction House is one of the biggest technical issues still holding back the Diablo 3 release. That and their 3rd party payment system still requires a ton of testing. The game itself is pretty much done, now Blizzard just needs to test all of their servers, transactional and cash payment systems, and logistics. If the right people were notified and started asking Blizzard some serious questions at this juncture, it could seriously delay the release of Diablo 3.

Credit cards associated with Internet gambling sites are usually rejected, but Blizzard has entered into a special relationship with an unannounced 3rd party to handle this cash money trade service. It's a good idea they're outsourcing this too.. perhaps they have some clauses in their contract that give them indemnity in case something were to happen.

Blizzard could have easily done this themselves, but they're involving a 3rd party.. it could just be related to workload, but maybe there's another reason. You know.. a "just in case" scenario. Blizzard also has the ability to flip a switch on the Cash Auction House at any time. :) If I were them, I'd be worried.

And, it probably wouldn't take much on an explanation to a non-gaming government official. What's the simpliest way to explain how the Diablo 3 Real Money Auction House works?

1. You pay to play on a live gaming service.
2. This game is played by adults and minors.
3. You can put your real money into this gaming service and use it to make more money.
4. While playing on the live gaming system, there are multiple different kinds of games that you can play. Games of chance and games of skill. Much like an online casino.
5. These games are played against the "house" who makes money because the odds are in their favor and they can control the odds.
6. While playing some of the games, there are random chances of winning "tokens" that represent real cash value.
7. You make money by random chance winnings.
8. There is also another game of chance where you can gamble your token to see if you can convert it into varying levels of real money. (RMAH)
9. When you gamble your token, you must pay a fixed fee for every gamble. Whether you win or lose, you must pay for the gamble.
10. Blizzard can control how many gambles each players makes during the day, and change volumes of gambling attempts.
11. Player winnings and fixed fees are very small (e.g. $0.05-$1.00), however these involve millions of players with multi-millions of transactions per day. Imagine billions of "microgambling" games.
12. Servers for this online gaming service can be at offshore locations. Players from all over the world can access this gaming system from any other country. Or play on multiple countries with different currencies.

It sure sounds like gambling to me. There are layers upon layers of varying forms of gambling and indirect gambling. Some of these layers aren't even obvious yet to most players; the listing fee is gambling where the house always wins and controls the odds. There's a reason why online auction services don't have listing fees when they lose auction attempts.

Diablo 2 "Gheed Gambling" is also completely available in Diablo 3, but now it's in the form of Artisan crafters. It's not gambling now, it's "crafting with a random chance". Basically, you take a token that represent real money, gamble it, and you can convert it into an item of much greater value.

The new RMAH system also will be allowing vast amounts of money laundering in multiple countries. In other gambling systems where there is a transfer of money involved, it often requires people playing the game for long periods of time to transfer money to another account for laundering purposes (or the money launderers own the business and use the transactions to hide money). In Diablo 3, though, users can now just buy large quantities of virtual tokens, transfer to another account, and cash out all in the same day. It's easy, fast, not monitored (unless reported), and it can also be fully automated. There's also less risk involved because they don't own the business and they are just using a legitimate service. It's scary to think of the possibilities here.