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Blizzard: "I don't think it's a bad thing to want to make money"

Blizzard: "I don't think it's a bad thing to want to make money"

Wed 16 May 2012 8:04am GMT / 4:04am EDT / 1:04am PDT
Development

Diablo III's Jay Wilson on the auction house system and bringing the game to console

Activision Blizzard

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide pure-play online...

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Blizzard's Jay Wilson, the game director for the newly released Diablo III, has explained that the introduction of a real money auction houses into the RPG was a actually a design decision. And revealed that Diablo on console isn't a sure thing just yet.

"It came from the design department," Wilson told Gamasutra of the new system that will see players able to sell and buy loot for real world currency.

"So here's one of the things that I will say -- that no one in forums will believe me -- but we never make business decisions outside of the game development team. We always make them based on what we think is right for the game."

He explained that Blizzard obviously intended to see a return on the service, and of course they wanted it to be successful. And that could only translate into a better experience for Blizzard fans down the road.

"We want to make money because making money means we get to make more games, and we get to make bigger games," he continued.

"I don't think it's a bad thing to want to make money. I think it's a bad thing to want to make money off things that are not a good service or product for your customer, and that's our inherent belief, is that it's okay to make money on a service we provide for our customers that we think is a good service worth paying for."

Wilson also touched on the subject of Diablo III on console, which, despite the hype, isn't a sure bet just yet.

"We tell people that basically we're experimenting, because it helps us hire people," he said.

"The better people we hire, the better chance we have to actually make it. That's why we haven't kept it super secret, but we also haven't confirmed it, because we're not sure yet whether we think it will work, and whether we think we have the resources to do it."

26 Comments

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Well, outside of the auction house (which I won't be using, thank you much) wouldn't Blizzard also make more money by releasing a game MORE people could play offline without a mandatory internet connection?

I don't mind them making money at all (as noted, that helps they make better games) - I just wish they would have taken a better look at the people who might WANT to play Diablo III who don't care for online play and welcome them aboard instead of create a game made more for an audience who would put up with a rather bizarre restriction without understanding how annoying it can be once set in motion.

Sure, require ALL players to register their games when they install (for proper sales tracking and security), Sure, have them get mandatory BattleNet accounts and register any characters created (another layer of security). But forcing people to basically queue up and wait in front of their computers for a server to free up or whatever just to play solo is asking way too much, no matter how many copies sell on day one (that can't be played by those affected by whatever isn't functioning properly at a given moment)...

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Dirk van Wijk Student - Computer Science (Master)

29 13 0.4
Piracy says hi. Unlike most games were offline mode is just a small part of the game. Diablo 3 offline is actually all the content of the game too. So there will be soooo much more people pirating the game, you'll be losing money instead.

And it just seems you're being mad about the bad release they're having. (which they screwed up of course) I think these server issues shouldn't be posing any more problems after a few weeks.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dirk van Wijk on 16th May 2012 10:06am

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money. However, if you want to make money it is a bad thing to make your game irritating and inaccessible to run no matter how good it is once you finally get in.

Has it become impossible to release a high-profile game without some massive PR disaster balls up these days?

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Piracy is going to happen anyway this is Diablo 3 were talking about, why punish loyal paying customers like this?

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Er, Dirk? You don't make any sense. Why the hell would I be angry at Blizzard for having a bad launch? if anything, I'd feel bad for them and anyone who got the game and can't play what they paid for when they want to play it. I don't feel bad OR mad at all. I just made my point, rolled up my tent and that's that.

As noted, I actually AGREE with the statement that making money is a good idea. Hell, that's the bottom line at the end of the day for every publisher, correct? That said, making a product that may take a while to fix when it should be a more stable experience out of the gate doesn't sound like a good thing under any circumstances, especially if they go by "a few weeks" you think it will take to make right.

As for piracy, those folks will find ways to do what they do no matter how draconian the DRM is. That's up to Blizzard to deal with in a more sensible manner than making sure no one can play the game or those who can play it can only do so sporadically and at the whim of whatever server and connection issues occur.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 16th May 2012 11:50am

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Look Blizzard, the most Id pay for a game is 60$, and even thats a price i find kind of steep. if i have to purchase the game and on top of that pay to actually play it, upgrade my character get, weapons and stuff... screw that.

I agree totally with blizzard making money, that is super cool and A-OK!!!... However... having your players on handcuffs, whatching there every move when they paid full price for the game, and all these online requirments to play the game. The only way I would play the game would be a pirated copy, even more so when all those assets, weapon upgrades, loot and stuff you make me purchase for real world cash is on the disk. I bet someone down the line will come up with an offline patch and also have these assets available.

But then again with so many games out there, I really wouldnt bother with that. Some game developers think they are the purple cow. Honestly the ocean of great games is so large that I feel if you make it a hindurance for a gamer to play your game, require them to register the game in 2 or 3 places, require them to be online to play, require them to subscribe to a service they probably wont use, or get more money from them with dirty DLC or Locked disc content... Honestly? Diablo III? Screw you. Right now Im having plenty of fun with so many other games that dont have so many restrictions to play. Blizzard is basically calling out to the gaming community to Pirate the game.... "Hey YoU, its MEEEE!!! Over Here!!! Me Me me!!! Pirate ME!!!"

On top of all this you have server issues and online queing, just waiting to find a server available to play the damn game...

So basically i cant play Diablo 3 without a credit card? even after I paid $60! Really??? ... Diablo III... Fuck That!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 16th May 2012 1:56pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6
"if i have to purchase the game and on top of that pay to actually play it, upgrade my character get, weapons and stuff... screw that."


That's not exactly how it works. You can get equipment normally. If you want to pay for convenience, you can pay another player that found the items you want, and Blizzard takes a cut. This set up helps them to regulate the game a little bit too.

Ultimately, I would have a problem in PvP in this sort of game because having better gear means you have an artificial advantage, and you'll have better gear if you invest more time or money in grinding the game instead of learning specific skills that make you a better player. When PvE loses its appeal, back to Guilty Gear for me.

I'm sort of interested to see how this plays out. An economy with real money based off of resources that are potentially infinite in availability, but require huge time investment to obtain because they're based off of random drops. If you have job that pays well, it's probably a more efficient use of your time to just by items. Makes me wonder if people will do that, or prefer to find items themselves because "that's the game", or want to farm and sell them for profit. People will probably realize that with the drop rates and the necessary effort, it's not worth selling items for cheap.

I feel like I'm going to learn more about economics from watching the growth of this auction house system than I learned in school. The best part is that it drives home how people don't act rationally and don't always strive for the optimum solution when it comes to economic decisions, since you're dealing with an artificial resource.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios

191 81 0.4
From what I've come to understand from various forum posts and articles, It's my belief that they went with the online battle.net only thing with D3 because of the infamous item duping bug related to offline play.

With a straight online only system, it will be surprising to see how long it takes pirates to crack it, however with all the communication buried so deep into the code, I'd be surprised if pirates will even be able to play the game.

We'll see, Either way their decision to go online only has cost me the ability to play at home. So I'm kind of upset about that.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
@ Andreas Gschwari... "Well I was refering to having to purchase ingame virtual goods for real cash. It sounds like a good idea to the developer but I keep thinking on how this will cripple the gaming expirience if it became a widespread thing, i have no problem skipping Diablo entirely."

-----------

Again, I dont really know how this is implimented in diablo. i heard something of gamers able to sell weapons they level up to other gamers and recive cash themselves, and others were you have to purchase certain items for real world cash... im ignorant as to what payment methods are available.... again i dont know all the details, so maybe what im saying is just a load of crap.

I dont know to what extent they have implimented this feature in DiabloIII, but by the sounds of it, it sounds like alot of Zynga games were you need to pay money to have all the cool stuff. So if your a POOR gamer, and you waited many years patiently for DiabloIII and broke your piggy bank to purchase a copy of Diablo III, your basically screwed by the rich kids. Doesnt sound good to me, and like they say, dont like it, dont buy it. Regardless how much it sells, ill be one of the people skipping this game.

If this becomes a mainstay for games I will probably stop playing games. im not fine with buying a game and then having to pay extra to do or enable differant features. They literally turn the game into a service, and i got bills, utilities, car insurence, credit card... imagine if I have to pay every month for to play multiple games... What i fear is that this becomes a widespread trend literally ruining a hobby I love. But for rich kids this isnt a big deal.

I believe, game developers should make money, i belive piracy and second hand games affect this. I believe measures should be taken to allow developers to make money, but not hindure the gaming expirience for consumers or make it a hindurence to play games with so many security protocols or having to sign up, register, subscribe and enter differant codes to activate a game or be constantly online or insure the you only use your game on one device in one place in a certain way.

Its like living in a communist country were you buy a house and the goverment can take it away from you when ever they want.

I enjoy buying a blu-ray movie, seeing it on any blu-ray player, taking it to my friends house. I enjoy spending money on something I know is mine. But the way games are going about it, I dont feel that way with games. i feel severely restricted on how i can use them and many times cheated, like with developers who withhold portions of a game, only to release it as DLC or even worse have it locked on the disk and claim that for development reasons they couldnt make it available.

Imagine a final fantasy game were I walk into a shop and buy gear and items for my characters. This has been a mainstay in most RPG's. However Id hate to imagine if they started charging real world cash for it.

Also imagine one day the server going offline and that portion of the game is rendered useless basically crippling the playability of it. i walk into a town and I cant purchase anything cause no server is available and I cant defeat that level 9 boss... just great.

I imagine that the Mass effect 3 server wont be online forever, and that multiplayer wont be available forever. When that happens, the galaxy at war portion of the game will be rendered usless crippling the single player campaign and the points you need to get the better ending(that sucked), which is made more possible buy the online multiplayer.

Im probably thinking way ahead, but this is were my comments come from. I have all these fears, cause I love video games, but somehow feel worried about the future of the industry at all these methods to get money. Basically its like your buying stuff that isnt even yours, because your restricted in so many ways in how you use it.

If games are so expensive to develope, its because some developers have 600 people working on a single game to develope, seriously 600 people? correct me if Im wrong but i heard capcom had a staggering amount of people working on Resident evil 6. Is that really necessary?

Another example is Skyrim, it had a huge bug that rendered the game unplayable on PS3, what happens one day when the server goes down and bethseda no longer supports it?

Also alot of developers and publishers do go out of business. And each game is from a differant publisher and differant logins and passwords are needed to sign up and register. I have a friend who forgot his password for his email and password to his PSN account, because for years he used auto log in and just never bothered to re enter the password. The failure of one game can bring down a publisher. I mean look at THQ.

I still very much enjoy playing games from the SNES and NES era, who is to say years from now I wont go back to my old PS3 or PS4 games only to find they dont work anymore. Or who is to say that everywere I play there will be an internet connection?

But truth is I just think these things that worry me are for one reason, all these issues arising, are due to one thing. The shift from the industrial age, to the digital age. People selling digital goods and have issues to who owns it and how people can use it. unlike a vinyl record, you dont really lend digital material, you make a copy and hand it over, so im assuming in the future no one will own anything, just pay to use. The digital age has also brought issues with the use of copyrights, patents and trademarks. And you got proposals like PIPA, SOPA, CESPA and BOOYAH ready to grab you by the balls cause you took a photo or video of a McDonalds behind you and you posted it on facebook and now McDonalds wants to sue you for mis-use of there brand???

The change to the digital age is of great significance where people perceptions, rights, freedoms of speech, privacy, values and morals will shift in many ways, even how they socialize and communicate with each other.... AND... play games. So maybe my attitude towards this is a result of that change.

Kinda sucks to be in the middle of all this shit. All i want is to pop in a game and play it without, breaking some law or infringing on a copyright or user end agreement. Ive already accepted that i may just stop playing games one day if it becomes to much of a hindurence.

I should do like Bruce Banner and live away from society.

Edited 7 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 16th May 2012 5:07pm

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Rachel Weber Staff Writer, GamesIndustry.biz

34 96 2.8
You don't need to enter any credit card details to play Diablo III.

And to play devil's advocate for a minute, I think Blizzard's Jay Wilson has defended the move by saying the really hardcore players were buying and trading items for real world cash anyway, this just legitimises the process.

It's not a competitive game so, as a player, I don't have any problem with someone else spending their own cash on a sword that's prettier than mine.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rachel Weber on 16th May 2012 4:46pm

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Brian Lewis Operations Manager, Aeria Games Europe

135 84 0.6
I dont think people understand what Blizzard has done with Diablo III. The game can not be pirated, because it is not on your computer.

Diablo III is an online game, with a client on the user end to access the game, just like World of Warcraft. The actual game resides on the Blizzard servers. The only way to 'pirate' the game is to duplicate the server side. This may result in private servers... but no end user will be able to actually pirate the game.

People do not yet realize that Blizzard did not sell a game.. they sold access to a service.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Emily Rose Freelance Artist

83 41 0.5
Rick, please stop posting before you get informed. You never compete against others that have bought items (pvp balance is not on the cards for Blizzard, it's just a minigame), and every item on the auction house, was found by someone at some point, so nothing is being injected into the economy. It's just a streamlined trading system (and more safely controlled than the black market of diablo 2)

Nothing here is changing other than people being able to buy safely the things that they used to buy in the unsecure black market.

At the end of the day, you never *need* to buy anything because there's nothing to "keep up" with. You can play at your own pace and with others that wish to play at that pace.

Diablo 3 is not an mmo.

I agree the "auth server required" thing is very annoying (IF YOU SHUT THE SERVER DOWN, RELEASE THE SERVER CODE!), tried to play my old copy of Emperor: battle for dune - no dice :(

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
@ Rachel Weber - i know I know... if those items you purchase are aesthetic changes its not so bad, but if its weapons or items with differant stats, that offer opportunities in the games others dont have then that kinda sucks. But again it depends how they impliment this, I feel developers are still experimenting with what works and what doesnt. i just voice my concerns and hope I dont annoy anybody. But thanks for clearing a few things up.

@ Tim Grant - i know, thanks for clearing that up, I just have a few concerns about the industry as a whole, that include alot of things like the locked disc content, and methods developers are using to squeeze cash out of the consumer and online features that can cripple a game if they arent available, cause alot of developers and publishers do go out of business. And each game is from a differant publisher and differant logins and passwords are needed to sign up and register. I have a friend who forgot his password for his email and password to his PSN account, because for years he used auto log in and just never bothered to re enter the password. The failure of one game can bring down a publisher. But it will suck if every game I purchased was a seperate service. I guess its a matter of waiting and seeing what becomes of the industry down the line.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 16th May 2012 5:16pm

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News

58 23 0.4
If they want to protect the online economy and the real money auction house so they can get their 15% cut off every transaction, why not have online-ONLY and offline-ONLY characters instead of punishing everyone with this ridiculous 'always connected' DRM?

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
I think people complaining about DRM/anti-piracy measures are getting the wrong end of the stick in this case. I don't believe that the primary intention is to stop piracy in this instance.

My understanding is that the rationale behind making Diablo 3 an online-only game is to stop people from being able to cheat by altering the executable or data files of their game, to give them an advantage which is then taken into multiplayer games. My understanding is that this was a big problem with the original games. Basically the same reason that most multiplayer games don't just allow clients to tell the server "hey I just killed this guy, so he's dead now, OK?".

I could be wrong though

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Moritz Müller Team Manager Customer Support, Blizzard Entertainment Europe

2 0 0.0
@Rick.

In short:

No Items or gear or anything will be offered to be purchased from Blizzard.
All items are to be found by players in game. However, you have the option to either buy items that other players found while playing via a gold based (in-game currency) auction house, or via a real money auction house. For the latter, any earnings go to the player selling the item, and Blizzard takes a cut as people said already. Or you just decide to go hunt for those items yourself and not participate in the auction houses at all. So totally different to those free-to-play titles where you pay cash for specific items only available through purchase. Any item found on the AH is put there by a player who invested time to see it drop off a mob he killed.

Effect on general gameplay should not be too big - as Diablo is heavily based on single or co-op play. PvP will become available, but is meant just for fun as of yet.

So it is in the end as with any other game as well:
You go to a shop, buy the game, go home, create a Battle.net account, attach your game, login and play. No extra charge or anything requireed. No payment option entered etc.

Posted:2 years ago

#16
@Rod

They had Battle.Net, Open Battle.Net and offline play with Diablo II and it just confused players. Virtually everyone played on ranked online games anyway, because there was no cheating. I guess this time they decided to start things off the right way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Laurence Alexander on 16th May 2012 6:00pm

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Paul Gheran Scrum Master

123 27 0.2
Mr.Muller,

Does a player who has sold an item on the real money auction have a way of taking their real money earnings out of the game? (genuine question)

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games

82 117 1.4
Specially coming from Blizzard, which already has a game with a Bind on PickUp system, I believe there are designs to effectively get rid of the black market and make sure that everybody has to actually defeat's the game challenge/purpose to advance.

Saying that people would use real money anyway is forceful. It can be prevented.

Like many others I also feel that allowing real money to interfere with an online game simply kills its community and the actual gaming experience.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada

184 238 1.3
@Paul - yes. Blizzard takes a 15% cut on the sale, and then another 15% when you move money out of their system.

**

This may be cynical of me, but I think the reason they don't have an offline mode is specifically because of the Real-Money auction house. If I find a phenomenal item that I don't want to use in-game, and I'm an offline player, it's not particularly useful. If I find it in D3, with it's always-online setup, I know that I can put it up on the RMAH, and make money off of it. If I do that, Blizzard gets it's 15-30% cut.

Blizzard knows this is big business - there was a lot of outside selling of goods in Diablo 2. This provides greater protection for the buyers/sellers, but more importantly, it's a revenue stream for Blizzard. I think it's a very canny move, although I'd personally rather be able to play offline than be able to sell stuff in the RMAH.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
@ Moritz Müller - THANKS!

Though my original post went deep into many topics, I also wanted answers. You have very much cleared my doubts about Diablo III. And I admit, that if what you said about the "auction house system" is true, then it doesnt sound bad at all providing it doesnt hindure a FULL game expirience and gamers are also making money! :)

As of this writing many reviews are still incomplete and the server error didnt help the launch.

However it would be nice to play offline. I have a broadband internet connection, its shared and when it rains it gets unstable. Then again maybe its a needed because how the game is designed.

I also have issues with the way differant game companies are implementing "Digital rights managment" systems in games and how they try to squeeze more money through DLC.

But my stance right now on DiabloIII is... wait and see. I will wait for further reviews and a little longer for people to play the game. Ive had bad unpleasant expiriences with other company methods to squeeze more cash out of gamers, and DRM methods and games with huge bugs. But in this case gamers are also making money... and I cant say that is a bad thing at all.

Deep down DiabloIII is a game I very much want to play.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 16th May 2012 7:03pm

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Roberto Bruno Curious Person

104 69 0.7
@Dirk: Piracy is a strawman argument.
While there's no proof that copy protections help sales, there are many indications that the opposite is true and that piracy rates hardly tell anything about lost sales (quite the opposite, the more a game is pirated, the more it tends to sell loads).

People in this industry apparently live under this hilarious delusion that if you can prevent a penniless kid from downloading software, he will magically materialize money he doesn't have to buy their stuff.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
there are many indications that the opposite is true and that piracy rates hardly tell anything about lost sales (quite the opposite, the more a game is pirated, the more it tends to sell loads).
I'd be wary of using that data to conclude that piracy increases sales.
One could equally argue that games that are more popular, are likely to have more sales and more illegal downloads because more people are aware of, and desire the game.
People in this industry apparently live under this hilarious delusion that if you can prevent a penniless kid from downloading software, he will magically materialize money he doesn't have to buy their stuff.
Personally I'd argue that the argument that pirates can't afford games, and wouldn't have bought the game if piracy weren't an option, is just as silly as the argument that 1 download = 1 lost sale. Sure, there are people that download games, that wouldn't have bought the game otherwise, but I think it's silly to assume that this is the case for even the majority of pirates, without hard data.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada

184 238 1.3
The only thing our industry knows for sure about piracy is that we don't know anything for sure.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Kevin Patterson musician

187 103 0.6
I loved Diablo and Diablo 2, but I am on the fence regarding Diablo 3. The forced online only play turns me off, and the new look doesn't do much for me. I think I'll just wait and buy it when they make a war chest version someday and buy Torchlight 2 instead.
I may break down before then but right now I'm not dying to have it when I still have so many other wonderful games to finish and looking forward to.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Moritz Müller Team Manager Customer Support, Blizzard Entertainment Europe

2 0 0.0
Hey Paul.

There are several ways how to manage your earning with the RMTAH.
You can either leave it on your account, as something called "Battle.Net Balance" which you can use to pay for anything in the Online Store from Blizzard. So WoW Subscription, character services, etc. This BAB equals earned currency, so no "trading fee" for that applied.

And as said earlier already by another user, you can opt to have the money directly transferred to your PayPal account.

It works the other way around as well - BAB and PayPal may be used as payment method for the RMTAH. As may other payment options, too.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

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