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Diablo III's RMAH Is The Future of MMOs

Posted on Saturday, May 5 @ 10:11:12 PST by Jonathan_Leack

Among the discussions about one of this year's biggest games, Diablo III, stands its Real Money Auction House (RMAH). It's arguably the biggest point of discussion for the game, and that includes both excitement and contention. But how big of a deal is it, really?

Diablo III's RMAH is essentially a way for customers to spend real money on virtual items, and vice versa. Now, Diablo III won't be the first game to offer such a solution, but it's definitely the biggest. Previously, smaller free-to-play model games have taken this route, and the results have been incredible. Games like Maple Story and even Farmville have thrived over the last few years by simply offering a variety of in-game solutions for real-world currency.

Diablo III's answer is a bit different, since it places the market in the hands of the consumer, but there's a catch. Blizzard will be taking a cut from each transation—a BIG cut. Looking at the success of free-to-play MMOs and applying that to a game as well-known as Diablo III spells big money. I'd even go as far as to say that Blizzard will make more money from the RMAH than if they were to charge customers a monthly fee similar to World of Warcraft.

Furthermore, I get the feeling that this model is going to become an industry standard in the next few years. With multi-million dollar budget games like Warhammer Online and Final Fantasy XIV failing to capture a sizeable install base, the pay-to-play model is currently on its way out. Lord of the Rings Online was a fantastic game, but only lasted a few years on the model before moving to free-to-play. The same can be said of DC Universe Online which went into launch week with strong hype backing it but didn't even last a calendar year. At this point World of Warcraft is one of the only standing survivors, and even it is in decline.

RMAH is more than just a profitable strategy; it's also a way to combat gold-selling which has plagued the industry for over a decade now. RMT companies that have been selling gold and items for years now are now having to compete with the developer itself, which is leaving them with almost no room for profit. Two birds with one stone.

So what does this all mean? I'm absolutely confident that within the next couple years the MMO landscape will be completely off the pay-to-play model. Games like EVE Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and even World of Warcraft will move away from requiring up to $14.99/month, and will instead implement some form of RMAH, or even an optional subscription with perks. This will be fueled by the success of Diablo III's RMAH, which is coming out in less than two-weeks.

Prepare for a radical change in the MMO landscape, because it's coming sooner rather than later.
Related Games:   Diablo III
Tags:   MMO, Blizzard, Diablo 3
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