Not how I feel about this one.  It came out today that in Diablo 3, the Auction House in game will allow for the buying and selling of virtual goods.  No biggie, right?  Well, kinda … Blizzard is actually going to open it up to real world money.  That means that I could put my epic purpz up on the auction house, and make real money.  Yeah….uhm….yeah.

Blizzard made sure to point out that they would not be selling items on the Auction House, that it would only be player-to-player. It’s not meant to be a revenue stream for them (like they would need it anyway).  However, they did leave it open that they could potentially sell cosmetic items in the market.

Rob Pardo told Joystiq that no one had actually done something like this before, which I think is a little bit of selective remembering, since Second Life from Linden Labs has had a very similar (though not exact) model for virtual goods for real money in place for years.  So they aren’t the utter pioneers in this instance that they are at least presenting themselves to be outright.

But I still have to wonder what exactly this is going to do–to gaming, to gold-sellers, hell to even our real world economy.  This is an unprecedented change in the way that games work – Second Life, while similar, has never had the following that Blizzard does, and therefore hasn’t had the potential for massive change and massive impact on the industry that this does.

I can’t help but think that this move along with several others are Blizzard’s response to the rampant hacking and exploitation of the previous games, even though Diablo 2 though it remains a strong, heavily played game today.  Or maybe something to try and mitigate the gold-sellers that are so prevalent in every online game nowadays, but especially in the cultural phenomenon that is World of Warcraft.

Either way, it’s a bold move.  If Diablo 3 carries the kind of rabid following other Blizzard products have (which really, it’s been in development for about a decade, it’ll probably have more), players buying and selling virtual items for real money has the potential to change a lot of the rules of the gaming industry as they stand, which is always good.  But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t make me just a little bit uneasy.

via Ars Technica – Diablo 3 will let you buy and sell items for real-world cash