Gambling Detected. RMAH Changed!

Posted by Daeity On Friday, February 17, 2012

In retrospect, I suppose it should have said Daeity "Runes" Everything instead. :)

You know, it's funny.. I was just in the midst of preparing a post about the non-refundable listing fees and how Blizzard would probably play with different free listings per week (I knew that 3 wasn't going to cut it, but I figured they might experiment with 5 or 10 for various reasons). There's no point in discussing those reasons now, since I've had to scrap everything.

Blizzard just announced a MASSIVE change to the RMAH system. They've finally wised up and have removed the Listing Fee!

As you know, for several months, I've been saying that the existence of the Listing Fee turns the RMAH into a gambling metagame, but the removal of the Listing Fee would make item selling risk free and thus remove the main gambling aspect from the RMAH. Blizzard echoed the same: "This has the main advantage of allowing players to try to sell their items risk-free."

Here's the full posting in all it's glory:

In the near future, we'll be implementing several changes to the posting limits and fees related to the beta version of the Diablo III auction house. Here’s a quick summary of what’s in store:

* Listing fee is being removed.
* Transaction fee is being increased to 1.25 Beta Bucks.
* Minimum listing price is being raised to 1.50 Beta Bucks.
* You will be limited to 10 active auctions per auction house.

With the removal of the listing fee, players will no longer need to worry about whether they’re going to run out of free listings for the week. In addition, introducing a limit on the number of active auctions means players won’t feel as though they should be trying to sell everything they find, potentially flooding the auction house with unwanted items. Under this new system, players will only pay an auction house fee if and when an item actually sells. This has the main advantage of allowing players to try to sell their items risk-free. In addition, because the transaction fee is already baked into the price when an item is listed (as part of the minimum listing price), it’s no longer possible to be in a situation where you don’t have enough Balance to list an item, forcing you to have to charge up your Balance just to attempt a sale. We think this will be a much cleaner process for selling items and will ultimately lead to a better experience when using the currency-based auction house.

This new active-auction limit will also apply to the gold-based auction house. Because gold can be sold on the currency-based auction house, we need to ensure there are limitations on the gold auction house as well; otherwise, a player might be tempted to sell everything for gold and then sell that gold on the currency-based auction house, which isn’t supportive of the kind of thriving item-driven market we’re trying to foster. In addition, for the first time in the beta test, we're planning to have both the gold- and currency-based auction houses active at the same time when these changes go live. Of course, one of our main goals in making these changes to the beta is to test how they’ll work out, and we look forward to hearing your feedback once you have a chance to try them.
The average user won't recognize the importance of this strategic move. The Listing Fee for Blizzard was really important and a huge financial decision. The decision to remove it was equally critical. The decision to remove it would be something that they have been discussing and legally researching for weeks or months.

Blizzard would have made more money (a killing) from the lost sales then they ever could from successful sales. Billions of transactions.. and they would have profited every time an item was undercut or unsold. The number of successful sales will always be vastly smaller than the amount of unsold items.

You really have to wonder why they removed this, considering it's vast importance. The only explanation Kaivax had to give was that it "removed the risk" for the players. But, financially, this was a bad move for Blizzard, meaning that there had to have been other reasons that could offset "the bad." This wasn't a light decision in any way, and the only possible reason Blizzard had for making these changes was because of the gambling nature and potential legal exposure.

In my discussions with various organizations voicing my concerns about gambling within Diablo, some of them mentioned that they would be following up with Blizzard with questions.

We have all suspected that the long delays might have had something to do with the Balance integration or the RMAH. Perhaps, the development and finance teams have been in long discussions with their internal legal departments? And now, a major change in policy is needed to avoid future legal entanglements.

I think we might finally have some answers to their long delays. And, this also opens up the opportunity to finally get the RMAH re-instated in South Korea.

This has been a huge success; it's a change I have been advocating for a long time now. I'm really excited and pleased about this announcement. :)