| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (137)

Posted: Jan 15th 2012 6:20AM Space Cobra said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
@stebtr

If people were just buying the/a game to play it, which would be a great thing IMO, what about all those gold-farmers?

The idealistic view is they do, the reality is, if someone sees an opportunity to make money, they will pervert the intent.

There used to be ZERO gold sellers at the dawn of the MMO. Now, it's big business and they are not going away. If people smell some sort of benefit or profit for themselves, they will be there.
Reply

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 4:32PM Sukiyaki said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Now enjoy all the Chinese farmer who where out to suck out Korean gamers money, coming over to your server flooding your AH with goods at volumes and low prices you will never be able to compete with as a "player just having fun".

D3 is not a golden hen printing dollar notes out of nowhere. A little fact all the casuals hoping for the Pay2Win AH to "make money" all forget. Of the three parties involved: Blizzard, professional farmer and the real player, two will suck out money of the pool. Guess three times which ones are gonna pay.

Get off your delusional dreams and PR bullshit of Blizzard about the "player just having fun and making a buck". Blizzard is probably laughing at the stupid and gullible fans falling for their PR crap. Blizzard just permits RMT farmer to exploit the legit player in exchange for a little tax. And they don't have to bother anymore about going after cheater and prohibited RMT destroying the economy of games (=lower costs for monitoring). Theres nothing new about this idea aside from taxing the cheating. The same worked since ever in all the cheap and unmonitored noname F2P games, where RMT could rampage and everyone could openly buy advantages, with broken economy and rich kids and RMT services dominating the competitive side of any game.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 8:32PM stebtr said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Zeddakis Agreed. There's no logical reason that the exchange of virtual goods for money should be considered gambling.

People contributing money to the virtual marketplace are doing so to purchase a known entity with value they deem to be worth their money. Not to take a completely random chance to make more money.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 9:48PM Superman0X said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
People play poker for fun as well... but when they put money in to play, and then have a chance to get money back out... it becomes gambling.

The issue here is that they crossed the line, and in doing so met the legal definition of gambling.

However, to fix this, they have done the simple thing. They blocked the ability of korean players to cash out via paypal. They can still BUY with real money, they just cant cash out anymore. This fixes the problem.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 10:40PM stebtr said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Superman0X People don't put money into the real-money auction house to enter into a game of probability with an unknown chance to make money back. They know what they're getting in direct exchange for their money, and wouldn't spend the money if they didn't deem it worth the amount.

If people buy items with the expectation to use them to find and sell more valuable items it's their choice, and when or if they sell a future item, that's a totally independent (and optional) transaction from the earlier purchases. This is the key difference that no one seems to get.

In poker or other forms of true gambling, if you pay money and win, you get paid. Period. It doesn't take into account a player's intentions and what they wish to do after making their entry fee.

If I buy a better lawnmower I estimate I could mow twice as many lawns and possibly double my profits (with no guarantee). If I buy stock in a promising company I estimate I could double my investment (with no guarantee).

There's nothing wrong or illegal in the world with buying something to increase the probability of financial success. It's in fact how the global economy works. The only difference is the medium here is virtual rather than physical, and people (including governments) can't seem to wrap their heads around that.
Reply

Posted: Jan 15th 2012 6:15AM Space Cobra said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@stebtr

I've read your comments and while they are sound, you are missing some key points. You did dismiss the "time" argument or "time investment". The definition if gambling involves ANY sort of investment. I can "gamble my life" on making a jump over a canyon, for example. There is a risk I won't make it.

Investment is a risk-business, but it is called "investment" to pretty it up. Many people can "invest" in option, but since the odds are more market controlled (or we should hope), it has a veneer of legality. Still, people have lost their money on such investments, particularly risky ones.

Companies in the U.S. who make slot machines have to abide by certain laws in their odds. The key thing here is that while there is a percentage/probability of a player "winning", a company has control over the odds of winning. They can, and do, advertise of their better odds to win over other casinos and control such odds even among machines within their own establishments.

The thing that spurs on a person to gamble is the expectation of winning something bigger than what they put in. What they put in varies: it could be money. It could be time. It could be the promise of doing a chore (washing dishes, for example).

This does not affect many small, private games, especially poker, because not many are dropping the keys to their car.

The thing to consider is Blizzard is controlling the odds. They are controlling their random-number-generator in-house. They can increase the frequency of Blue drops or the percentage of their Gold drops and this is common practice in such a game. You will note that Poker and Slot Machines are also called "Games", even though they seem a far cry from "Chutes and Ladders" or "Red Rover:

If things were equal and fair, then the player should have a reasonable chance to get a high percentage of gold drop-items, especially if they've been at it for a long enough time. The thing is, since Blizzard does control the odds of these drops, it is in their favor. They are controlling "the market".

That is a bad place to be in. It creates some impropriety and how fair this is, especially since we have to deal with their in-house system. Even now, there are some games that "feel" wrong in the MMO space compared to drop; for example, in SW:TOR it seems, to me, one gets higher Commendation drops on the Republic side than on the Imperial side. This could just be my imagination, but it could be some error on Bioware's part that could be fixed. Until then, they could just deny it, like some companies do, until they fix it later.

Gambling involves all sorts of things, but it is the legal definition and certain ways it is played that we should be interested in. Not all gambling is bad. Investments are supposed to be monitored by law, but this is a slippery slope. Investments have risks, but they are "out of the hands" of people, or should be. This is why "inside information trading" is illegal, because now you know the odds and you get nailed/arrested for it; it is not "fair", because someone manipulated those odds to their benefit.

The legal definition of gambling, for law-enforcement purposes is the manipulation of such odds to the "house's benefit". As I stated in an earlier example (here and another post), even some games of chance have rules that they need to follow, even if no money is involved, such as company raffles and carnivals. If it is found out that someone controlled the odds, it is illegal. Normally, this isn't a big issue for Friday Night poker games with buddies, but it can be if pushed. I have seen such games broaden to include 10 or more people and the "house" can get greedy.

Reply

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 2:19AM stebtr said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Space Cobra I appreciate the detailed response and you make some good points. I would agree that in a game of odds there's an expectation (and when money is involved, often enforced regulation) of fair play - I'll cover this point at the end of this post. First, the main difference I think you're overlooking is that every purchase is completely independent from "time investments" (farming), and sell/cash-out transactions.

Everyone seems to want to associate everything that takes place within the virtual space as one linked event ("buy items as an investment" -> "farm for controlled and potentially-unknown drop rates" -> "attempt to sell items for profit"). It's absolutely true that people could follow that exact sequence of events, but you need to recognize that they're each independent and optional events. Any single one of those events can occur without the other two.

This isn't the case for poker or other gambling methods - the risky reward is directly linked with the entry event, regardless whether it's a high-stakes ante, dropping a raffle ticket in a hat, or jumping off a cliff and awaiting your fate (to use your examples).

This is why it shouldn't be considered gambling any more than me spending my last dime on that better lawnmower with the expectation to start profiting enough to buy food next week.

The government allows me to buy that lawnmower if I have the money, and they don't investigate my intentions for it to be an investment for future earnings and then call it gambling.

I compare it to a lawnmower because when I buy the product I can see what I'm getting, just as D3 users will know what they're purchasing and can make a fair judgment if it's worth the listed price. There's no risk involved in that transaction or any "house-controlled odds" - they're simply buying an item with known properties.

If they then decide to embark on a journey to use the item for something else (such as future profit), and either fail or succeed in their goal, that's completely unrelated to its purchase.

Now if the item doesn't perform to its listed properties at the time of purchase, there would be reason for concern. Just as a lawnmower with a broken power supply may need to be replaced through warranty, if my purchased item randomly disappears or changes due to something beyond my control, I would hope to see some form of compensation (refund, restored backup of the item, or such).

If Blizzard doesn't guarantee to users that items will be permanently available and perform as stated, that should also factor into buyer expectation. I know I wouldn't buy that lawnmower if it didn't come with at least a 1-year warranty.

Now to get back to the point about the "house" (Blizzard) controlling odds. I will argue that it doesn't matter in the least if Blizzard were to "get greedy" (as you would call it), and here's why:

Blizzard has control over factors that influence the market , but they can't control the revenue. Yes, they could in theory ramp up drop-rates and/or increase the percentage they take on every sale (with prior notice to the community) to extract more sales in the short-term, but at the expense of less sales being completed and long-term inflation.

Supply and demand creates the market as players have the opportunity to choose to enter into any combination of the three independent events from my 2nd paragraph above, in any sequence they wish and with no unknown risk involved in any singular event.

If sellers choose not to sell because Blizzard takes too much per transaction, or buyers choose not to buy due to evaluating their expectation, then Blizzard makes no money. There's no unknowns to any party involved, and it's as simple as that. So it's in Blizzard's best interest to maintain a balance that serves the players if they want it to be profitable for themselves.

They might realize they'll generate more revenue by lowering their percentage taken per transaction -- would you still consider such a move to be "greedy"?

Blizzard has stated they will not be listing any items for auction themselves, and that's the only "law" that I think is necessary to keep things fair between the "players" and the "house".

If Blizzard's success remains directly contingent upon the success of a supply-and-demand driven market, then I see no issues in that regard that warrant government intervention.
Reply

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 10:43AM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@stebtr

You are right that these events, separated, do not make a big problem, but the thing is they are put together and that can be a problem or a potential problem.

We've forgotten one definition of "gambling" in these discussions, and that is that it is (can be) an addiction, too. Some in the medical field even label such addiction as a "disease". I personally find this hard to grasp, but it is a problem that does affect a good number of people. Maybe this is how certain chemicals flow in the brain, because "depression" can be a disease, too. Again, one side scratches my head over this and can't quite grasp why it can't be a problem, but apparently, put certain chemicals into your bloodstream, and you can be happier.

So, "gambling" is more than just a state of being, it is a state of mind. I mentioned in a previous response that there are places you can go and bet/gamble on anything and some of these bets, admittedly on face value, are ludicrous, but they happen. It can be anything from a race between insects to which Cosby kid will get an Oscar first (or wind up in jail) and all those in-between. Really, it truly astounded me what some gambling places do to set up these bets and why the "freak" any one would bet on these type of events, but apparently people do. Human greed knows no bounds.

And really, I have seen certain things online, too. I have seen people farm over and over, sometimes mind-numbingly, a particular item drop...for various reasons, but mostly for themselves. I sometimes wonder at this behavior, but I move on. I can only imagine if a real world price were attached to it, how these people, many of them under legal age, would react with a promise of a potential bigger reward.

In a way, "pulling that slot machine lever" is already in games like this, not exactly, but the similie is there. It is a "game of chance" in that way. By itself, it is just a simple game of chance, but linked with other systems, it becomes more. Already we have Auction Houses and that is "alright"; the promise of in-game gold is "acceptable" for whatever the player may have to sell. But link that with something else...well, the parts are benign, but this whole system is now suspect, IMO.

You mention the government allows you to buy a lawnmower and them not investigating your intentions for future investment, but they do in certain cases, particularly the IRS and particularly if you are a business. They have deprecation and ever-changing tax codes. In some cases, you can even write-off such things as a person, but such write-offs tend to get flagged for possible future audit. Build up enough flags and you trigger an audit. So, governments examining the purpose of purchases are not as far-fetched as they may seem.

You also mention that "If Blizzard doesn't guarantee future performance on items and that should factor into the buying of these items". Well, simply put, they do not and it is in their Terms of Service and the TOS of other companies, too. Not everyone knows about or reads their TOS, especially those without the patience to read it. Anything you buy, either XBox Live or elsewhere, the company gives itself the right to revoke, change the item, Nerf the item, or whatever it feels like. This is true with MMOs and others, but the vast majority do not know the rules. Is Blizzard "taking advantage" of such gullibility? Perhaps. Should they be allowed to do so?

And while you do make a point about Supply and Demand and Blizzard not controlling their revenue, they actually do with their drop rates and their RNG. And really, if a slot machine were to drop $100 chips more often than the $1 ones, Supply and Demand would have us believe that those $100 chips would lose value in time and they would. They may even be worth less than the $1 chips, given time, but this is a simplistic example.

There is an impropriety over "the House" or "Blizzard" controlling their RNG; potentially an employee of Blizzard could use it to his advantage and corner the market. Insider Trading is illegal in investing for similar reasons. This type of thing has happened before and while Blizzard could wipe their hands over one incident, more will happen. And then, there is the notion of holding up the company; perhaps the company will do something under-the-table....perhaps not, but it is there. Many MMOs control their drop rates and that, in reality, controls the market, just as it does with any Supply and Demand market.

In this case, I want to state Blizzard is "the tool" that others will use. Let's say Blizzard is blameless in offering this system, well, you still have the greedy players/gold-farmers, who have more time to put into such things than the average player and will control or monopolize such things. This is an easy thing to see, because there is a proven history of this happening. Remember, you talked about a "perfect ideal game", but this introduces another element that, IMO, makes it not so ideal.

As for price controls, well, that's what f2p does everyday. People complain about high prices, but during "sales" these prices are cheaper, so that brings in more customers. This is a standard tactic not only of f2p, but physical stores around the world. Sales cause a buying frenzy and more profit. So,, while they could charge less for an item, the company makes more money. Standard business practice.

The main fact, that Blizzard controls the RNG and it is not regulated, unlike Vegas Slot Machines, is cause for a concern and, at the least, provides a feeling of impropriety, whether Blizzard makes money or not from manipulating the supply, which affects demand. Also, if players can control/manipulate the market, this is also wrong, just as it would be in the stock market.

Reply

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 11:29AM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Space Cobra

I also want to say, while some of our points diverge from, "if this is gambling or not", they do start falling under, "Why government should control this!" which is, IMO, a slippery dangerous slope and adds fuel to the government wanting to regulate/tax such internet things even more. Even if Blizzard absorbs such tax, sooner or later, it would be passed on to end-users.

I think we can agree we'd want the government out of our games, don't you?
Reply

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 6:41PM stebtr said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Space Cobra "You are right that these events, separated, do not make a big problem, but the thing is they are put together and that can be a problem or a potential problem."

They're only put together if a player chooses on his own free will to engage in all events. Like I said I can buy a lawnmower and then try to use it for personal gain - are those events also put together just because such a possibility exists?

"So, "gambling" is more than just a state of being, it is a state of mind."

Well addiction is a state of mind where you're enslaved to a habit and trauma is caused by trying to stop. Gambling can (arguably) be an addiction, but "gambling" isn't a state of mind, it's just the particular habit involved in the addiction.

Regardless if gambling can be considered a manifestation of addiction or disease. There's a lot of things in the world that are addicting, many of which are potentially profitable and would not be considered illegal. There are people out there who are clinically addicted to their jobs (workaholics). It can lead to stress and depression and a wide range of health concerns just like gambling, but it's not illegal.

"Really, it truly astounded me what some gambling places do to set up these bets and why the "freak" any one would bet on these type of events, but apparently people do. Human greed knows no bounds."

It's more interesting than flipping a coin or rolling a die, right? The force behind all betting is that there's an event involved that's based on an element of chance. Whether it's boringly flipping a coin, trying to pick the outcome of a sporting event, or really obscure crap like you mentioned. They're all events that have multiple possible outcomes, and people put something at stake to try to pick the right one. When an auction closes for a D3 item, you're not betting on any potential outcomes, you're simply buying an item -- no money is put at risk pending the outcome of another random event.

"... well, the parts are benign, but this whole system is now suspect, IMO."

I guess this is the crux of the argument where we disagree. I've repeated my arguments on his a few times with the lawnmower and other examples, and will just say there are many legal parts in society that can be linked together by the free will of human beings to form a similar system.

"You mention the government allows you to buy a lawnmower and them not investigating your intentions for future investment, but they do in certain cases, particularly the IRS and particularly if you are a business. ... So, governments examining the purpose of purchases are not as far-fetched as they may seem."

Unless I try to write-off the purchase (which I may do as a business expense) they have no reason or cause to investigate. Either way unless I lie about something, there's no reason for concern should an audit take place. Governments are only concerned with examining the nature of purchases in regards to assessing and collecting due taxes. They aren't going to charge that I was illegally gambling on my purchase of the lawnmower.

"Anything you buy, either XBox Live or elsewhere, the company gives itself the right to revoke, change the item, Nerf the item, or whatever it feels like. This is true with MMOs and others, but the vast majority do not know the rules. Is Blizzard "taking advantage" of such gullibility? Perhaps. Should they be allowed to do so?"

If that line is crossed then a lot more needs to change in this world. Should software companies be allowed to release programs with user-agreements that place all inherent risks on users if installation or misuse causes harm to their computer? What about artists that sign over rights to their music to record labels not fully aware of the terms? Courts often sort out the mess when terms are ambiguous, but in a clearly-written and willfully-signed document, the end-user or artist loses that battle every time.

The point remains if they do take advantage of users' guilibility and a damaging event occurs that doesn't get resolved to acceptable user satisfaction, users are unlikely to continue contributing to that relationship. If an artist locks up their publishing rights to a label for the next 5 years, they might be stuck for a while, but probably won't re-sign with the same label. In Blizzard's case, the burdon is on them to earn and keep trust with its customer base for the auction house to succeed -- they're not looking a land that single big contract, but rather relying on millions of people to partake in micro-transactions. They also keep promoting the fact that the officially supported real-money auction house (RMAH) will be far more safe and secure than previous third-party sellers. Well actions speak louder than words.

If part of a database containing RMAH transfers becomes corrupt and approximately 1 million items disappear from users' inventories, Blizzards could say: "We apologize to those who spent time and money obtaining the missing items, but after investigation we are sad to report they cannot be recovered. If you look at section 8.3.24 in the TOS agreement, this unfortunate event is part of life and a risk you should have known when you clicked 'Agree' before playing the game." This response might be perfectly acceptable from a legal perspective, but probably not from a business one.

"And while you do make a point about Supply and Demand and Blizzard not controlling their revenue, they actually do with their drop rates and their RNG. And really, if a slot machine were to drop $100 chips more often than the $1 ones, Supply and Demand would have us believe that those $100 chips would lose value in time and they would. They may even be worth less than the $1 chips, given time, but this is a simplistic example."

That example doesn't make any sense. A $100 chip is, by definition, worth $100 at all times. If you're saying that the value of $100 would become worth less value over time as more money is printed, then sure, but $1 (or a chip that represents $1) will always remain to be worth exactly 1/100th of $100. This would be true regardless if there's a million $100 chips and only ten $1 chips in existence. The only way your example works is if people start buying and selling the chips from one another for the sheer rarity or collector's value of the chip itself, rather than its redemption value in the casino. "Hey I'll sell you this rare $1 chip (only ten in the world!) for 1000 bucks" - that's the type of trading that's more comparable to the D3 auction house.

The point is that the entire userbase collectively determines market value regardless how Blizzard manipulates their RNG and drop-rates. Vegas slot machines drop real money (or chips/receipts with known and controlled real-money redemption values); Blizzard drops virtual representations of objects that users have the opportunity to attempt to sell if there's another user willing to buy it. You don't win $100 at a casino and then upon trying to cash it in, have the pit clerk tell you "sorry the casino does not wish to buy this chip from you for $100". But that's what could happen if you try to sell an item at its "current market value" in D3. And when such rejections occur, sellers adapt by lowering their listing prices until they can successfully make a sale (and thus altering the current market value).

If Blizzard makes an incredibly rare godly item all-of-sudden drop very frequenty, unless you're one of the first few people to snag the drop, as soon as competitive listings hit the Auction House and users realize they might be able to farm the item themselves with a few hours effort without spending a dime, the price will undoubtedly go down to meet what users are willing to pay for it. Therefore Blizzard has no control at all over their revenue, regardless if their RNG or processes that determine drop rates are regulated or not.

"There is an impropriety over "the House" or "Blizzard" controlling their RNG; potentially an employee of Blizzard could use it to his advantage and corner the market. Insider Trading is illegal in investing for similar reasons. This type of thing has happened before and while Blizzard could wipe their hands over one incident, more will happen. And then, there is the notion of holding up the company; perhaps the company will do something under-the-table....perhaps not, but it is there. Many MMOs control their drop rates and that, in reality, controls the market, just as it does with any Supply and Demand market."

The portion of this that I agree with is that Blizzard could stand to rake in a singificant portion of earnings just by generating items for themselves (or otherwise exploiting odds as they know is best) and selling them in the auction house. That would be inherently unfair to the basic premise of a free market. Blizzard has clearly stated they have no intentions to sell anything themselves, and as I said in my other post, that's the only "law" I see as necessary to eliminate any impropriety they hold. Whether they'll engage in this secretly behind the scenes disguised as normal players, I have no idea, and perhaps there's a legitimate concern over the fact that the possibility exists. But that's a completely different issue than to say users participating in the auction house are involved in an activity that's "too close to gambling".

"you still have the greedy players/gold-farmers, who have more time to put into such things than the average player and will control or monopolize such things. This is an easy thing to see, because there is a proven history of this happening. Remember, you talked about a "perfect ideal game", but this introduces another element that, IMO, makes it not so ideal."

Dependending on your perpective, you could actually argue it's more of an ideal game. Gold farmers putting in thousands of man-hours to find and make available rare items for everyone makes the game more accessible. I know not everyone can afford to or has the desire to buy items, and paying for an advantage is often said to favor checkbooks over time investment and skill. But this game is really about playing solo or in small groups, not about the battle arena / PvP aspects. Blizzard has even acknowledged that items and stats are not balanced for PvP. So from a gameplay point a view I don't really see the downsides to letting those who can to shell out some cash to acquire some items that increase their enjoyment of the experience. And now if you're the dedicated gamer type who puts in a ton of hours to make progress, you might just be rewarded by the checkbooks of those other

"As for price controls, well, that's what f2p does everyday. People complain about high prices, but during "sales" these prices are cheaper, so that brings in more customers. This is a standard tactic not only of f2p, but physical stores around the world. Sales cause a buying frenzy and more profit. So,, while they could charge less for an item, the company makes more money. Standard business practice."

Exactly. Though I wasn't referring to a temporary reduction in Blizzard's cut to drive a period of mass sales, I mean a permanent drop becasue they've come to realize they can benefit more from the increased volume of sales.

"The main fact, that Blizzard controls the RNG and it is not regulated, unlike Vegas Slot Machines, is cause for a concern and, at the least, provides a feeling of impropriety, whether Blizzard makes money or not from manipulating the supply, which affects demand. Also, if players can control/manipulate the market, this is also wrong, just as it would be in the stock market."

Again, they don't manipulate the supply at all - the supply is the listings in the auction house, and without a willful action by at least one player in the game, regardless how few or many items are dropped in the world, there can't be a single a single auction listed.

No individuals or groups of individuals control or manipulate the market either. Let's say in an extreme scenario a large gold farming group can put tens of thounsands of hours into the game and ultimately account for more than half the auctions listed in the RMAH. Those listings still have absolutely zero impact on market value unless they sell. If no one buys anything, they're required to either drop their listing prices or not make money. Regardless how low market value becomes, others can still come along and undercut the current listings - so there's no monopolizing the system.

The market operates on the principles of supply and demand and organically controls itself based on the perceived value of auction listings. If you want to play the game of trying to raise the market value, then you need to succeed in convincing another person to buy your product for a price higher than what the average person in the market would deem it to be worth. There's nothing wrong with trying to do that either.

I do anticipate fake listings with high prices will be made and purchased by friends or alternate accounts of the same person to attempt to sway public opinion, but don't see it having any significant impact overall. If I feel an item is worth 20 bucks due to its relative value based on knowledge of other items in the market, I'm not going to fork over more just because it supposedly just sold for $100. But if I do, it's a conscious decision I made that I need to live with. And if enough people are consciously willing to pay a higher price, the market price will rise. I see nothing wrong with this.
Reply

Posted: Jan 18th 2012 9:30AM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@stebtr

Yeah, there are just things we are going to have to disagree on.

"Unless I try to write-off the purchase (which I may do as a business expense) they have no reason or cause to investigate. Either way unless I lie about something, there's no reason for concern should an audit take place. Governments are only concerned with examining the nature of purchases in regards to assessing and collecting due taxes. They aren't going to charge that I was illegally gambling on my purchase of the lawnmower."

This is true, but I must apologize because I stepped slightly off topic into the domain of government oversight and the desire of governments to gain money through taxing online transactions. That is a different topic from gambling, but I think it is something neither of us want to see, but I could see some in the governments, here and abroad, raising this as a flagship to more taxation of sites and general DLC content.

"If that line is crossed then a lot more needs to change in this world. Should software companies be allowed to release programs with user-agreements that place all inherent risks on users if installation or misuse causes harm to their computer? What about artists that sign over rights to their music to record labels not fully aware of the terms? Courts often sort out the mess when terms are ambiguous, but in a clearly-written and willfully-signed document, the end-user or artist loses that battle every time.

The point remains if they do take advantage of users' guilibility and a damaging event occurs that doesn't get resolved to acceptable user satisfaction, users are unlikely to continue contributing to that relationship. If an artist locks up their publishing rights to a label for the next 5 years, they might be stuck for a while, but probably won't re-sign with the same label. In Blizzard's case, the burdon is on them to earn and keep trust with its customer base for the auction house to succeed -- they're not looking a land that single big contract, but rather relying on millions of people to partake in micro-transactions. They also keep promoting the fact that the officially supported real-money auction house (RMAH) will be far more safe and secure than previous third-party sellers. Well actions speak louder than words."

All this is the "new standard" that companies now do on a regular basis. While they rightly assume it is "their network" and they can do whatever they want, because we "agree" to play/subscribe to such a network, these type of things listed in TOS benefit the company and currently, it is legal. Most people think once you sign a contract, you cannot change the terms, but these companies can and have. This is especially true and troubling with Credit Card companies. There are many things users give up their rights to, but it is hidden in reams of long paragraphs (much like this debate we are having ;) ) that most do not read through it all and see what rights they give up; users assume they have those rights until an incident pops up that affects them personally. Giving rights to an Arbritrition Court is just par for course.

Yes, it is wrong, but I don't see anything changing. In fact, DLC has gone away after purchase, normally within a set time frame of at least a year. And really, items have and will be continued to be balanced for whatever reasons, be it PvE, PvP, or some oversight or new in-game mechanic that has been introduced that makes the item better or worse. Given the cries of people on forums, I think these cries will be much worse, even if Blizzard fairly balances things for it's game. And really, since the market is hosted on Blizzard servers with Blizzard oversight, there is no third-party impartiality to this.

As for "controlling markets", well that is something we have to disagree on. You do have good points and Blizzard may or may not be faultless in this, but where there is a potential, there is greed. Employees could know of an incoming nerf of an item or buff of another and either pass along such info or profit from it themselves. While Blizzard could pre-broadcast such intent, that still doesn't cover the day-to-day bug patches and surprises that pop up that while not intentional, still could put others in an unfair advantage if they want to "play the market".

And really, I have seen some situations in the stock market that is just unfair and goes beyond normal "supply and demand" fairness. Even the act of IPO given to limited brokerage houses and distributed to only those with good contacts within those places are, IMO, unfair. It is legal, but it is not morally right. There are many such things in Wall Street trading that are similar, but legal. I don't see how this would fly with the player-base in practice once they find out, but as you and I agree, we just have to "wait and see" how things turn out with this.

And really, there is market control by groups or individuals fairly often; holding back something tends to make demand go up on it if it is prized and groups/people have been doing it on Wall Street and other places for a long time. While it is harder to do it on a server, I have seen such market control. You may state rightly that people can list items for much cheaper, but you forget that in the past, companies (and individuals) can and have bought such cheaper goods, or flat out blocked their sale in order to horde them. The Diamond industry, particularly DeBeers, is a perfect example of this and they are not alone in manipulating prices and markets. While in my above example, a person makes their lower-profit, other customers come in looking for the that item and are forced to buy at a higher rate. Again, we can agree this is "natural" for the market, but that means the market(s) can be manipulated. Again, nothing to do with 'gambling", but it creates a less-than-desirable situation for the average gamer, who is not into tracking an item he just wants one of.

And remember, since this is a closed off economy that only deals with D3 items, there are less variables so manipulation would be even easier than say a full market such as Wall Street.
Reply

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 1:45AM Dekain said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
So levelling my character to max level is a gamble. In that I am investing a significant amount of time in the hopes that I will enjoy the endgame more than some other form / my current form of entertainment.

We could also make this argument about going to see a movie, buying a book and eating out at a restaurant.

In all cases where the outcome is uncertain I am taking a gamble.

Gambling is risking something of material value for something of grater material value in a game of chance.

While your time has value it is immaterial. Your enjoyment of a product or service is also immaterial. So the above examples are not gambling.

However you may still be taking a risk or gamble with your timeā€¦ but we cannot put a material value on your time or your enjoyment of a product.

So the Diablo 3 AH is the risking of something immaterial (your time) for something of variable material worth (cold hard cash) and your entertainment (hopefully) which is immaterial.

This cannot be considered gambling as time is immaterial.

However if you converted your time into something material (got a job, earned some cash). Then Blizzard charged you money for each random drop, which you then sold for variable cash amounts. This would be gambling.

Otherwise any salesperson that works by commission 8 hours a day would have to be considered to have a gambling problem.

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 3:11AM stebtr said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Dekain Gambling doesn't require that one of the possible outcomes be higher in material value than the wager. It simply means you wager/risk something for a chance at something else based on the outcome of another chance-based event.

If you're dumb enough to gamble $10 for a 50/50 shot at winning either $1 or $5, you can still foolishly gamble your money on those odds for a known loss of at least $5.

As you said, gambling may involve risking anything of material value, not just money. Time could also be considered, if for instance you gamble that you'll mow the lawn next week if it rains tomorrow.

But not all gambling is illegal, and in fact the vast majority of gambles are not regulated by government. I can gamble my $59.99 for enjoyment (purchasing Diablo III), and Blizzard can gamble their success on the world's desire to buy their product. I might be disappointed, I might not; Blizzard might fail, they might not -- government doesn't care.

There's no difference in this virtual world. Everyone plays the same game in a shared environment. People buy items if they want, people sell items if they want. There's no possibilities for different outcomes to occur once an auction closes, and thus no gambling involved.
Reply

Posted: Jan 16th 2012 10:00AM Space Cobra said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Dekain

"While your time has value it is immaterial. Your enjoyment of a product or service is also immaterial. So the above examples are not gambling. "

Many people seem to think like you on this subject, although it is ironic you mention at the end:

"Otherwise any salesperson that works by commission 8 hours a day would have to be considered to have a gambling problem. "

There are many bosses that frown on "flitting away" business time, that they pay, on doing personal things, like sending personal email on company time. In fact, it is a given that most companies want their workers to be working for the company, otherwise they would get fired.

And the inverse is true about overtime paid. There are some companies that browbeat employees in some countries to work overtime without pay (otherwise they get fired). In countries, like America, one is legally entitled to overtime. Also, there are many situations where companies pay more for you to finish projects either on time or ahead of schedule, even above/beyond who came first on the list of jobs.

Time spent is not immaterial and, in fact, many gambling places make sure customers are comfortable and spending their time within their domiciles.
Reply

Posted: Jan 19th 2012 3:30AM Edwinleung said

  • 1 heart
  • Report
@Space Cobra
Space Cobra ur reason really funny
If u a Farmer , u farm potato and put it to a marker , the market help u sell the potato to a person who wan a potato ( U use ur stupid Brain think , IS THIS GAMBLING )

Same player farm item put to AH sell For money ( is business buy and sell !!! not gambling )
Reply

Posted: Jan 19th 2012 10:08AM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Edwinleung

You need to think or go out into the business world, too.,

In your example, the farmer plants potatoes. He gets potatoes. There is no random chance that the farmer gets gold or silver ore out of his farm, if we are just talking potato seeds.

If the crops turned "magic" and there was a chance to get something of high yield, well, wouldn't you be in that field hoping that gold would pop up instead of potatoes? That "promise of something better" is an addiction and it is related to gambling.

As for putting it on the AH, we could be talking "Blizzard Points" or real money, but if you say it is a "business", then that brings in government oversight and taxes. That is a separate issue, but one we do not want in Diablo 3 either, I think you'd agree. Even if we made "Blizz Points" from the transaction, people would buy such points with money, similar to how it is set up now. I can guarantee, Governments would be looking at ways to tax Blizzard and Blizzard would pass on the cost to it's consumers.

So, while this encourages "addiction" which can only be described as "gambling", this also could be viewed as a "business".
Reply

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 11:14PM mattwo said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Wait, Korea is up in arms about anti-gambling and not Australia?

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW