Blizzard’s upcoming Diablo 3 will include many of the social and economic feature that are already found in World of Warcraft, including trades with in-game gold. However, Joystick is reporting that the current beta also includes a kind of in-game eBay that will allow players to purchase items from other players for real money. Blizzard will take a commission on each sale, and the money will go into the seller’s Blizzard account. It can be used to buy other items from Blizzard, or cashed out for actual money (for another fee, of course).
This is a whole new concept in monetizing gaming that could have fascinating ramifications. There have always been gold farmers in online games. Some estimates claim there are already 100,000 to 200,000 people who do this for a living, most of them living in China. By integrating this process, Blizzard a) increases the reliability of the exchanges, and b) increases their own profits. Win-win! With the real-world economy in a shambles, will it be possible for even more people to supplement their income by collecting and trading items within games?