Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buying & Selling Characters In Diablo 3

A feature of the RMAH that is unknown to many Diablo 3 fans is the ability to not only buy and sell virtual items but characters as well. While it’s looking like the option to do this won’t be in at launch (more on this later), Blizzard have previously confirmed their commitment to allowing characters to be bought and sold for real money; it’s more than just a rumor!
What items can be traded in Diablo III?
Nearly everything that drops on the ground, including gold, can be traded with other players directly or through the auction house system. Aside from certain quest items, there will be very few (if any) items that will be “soulbound” to your character and therefore untradable. We are also planning to allow players to buy and sell characters in the auction house at some point in the future and will have more details to share on that at a later date.
While it’s still unknown just how many people will use the RMAH, it’s more than likely going to be a huge success. Many players will want to cash in on their unwanted items to get the money to buy the stuff they really want and this might also include level 60 characters.
For those that want to take it up a notch in their attempts to make a living from Diablo 3, leveling up characters for the sole purpose of selling them could be a lucrative aspect of the market they can get involved with but it’s unlikely to net any serious money when compared to farming Inferno quality items.
Selling level 60 characters during the first few weeks of launch could’ve been quite lucrative despite the downsides to player longevity. This is probably why Blizzard are delaying the functionality – not to spite users who want to make money but to avoid having people buying a few characters and then quickly growing tired of the game.
They quite obviously want the RMAH to be viable for years to come and are not willing to take a quick short term gain in spite of a long term one. Given everyone has to level their own character during the 1st or 2nd playthough, Blizzard are also ensuring there will be a good supply of characters ready to be sold when they do patch in the ability to buy/sell characters.
Buying & Selling Diablo 3 Characters
Specific details of how buying and selling characters will work aren’t known but it’s safe to say that you won’t need multiple accounts to participate on a casual level. When selling a character, it will be a simple process of moving the character from your account to the account of the person buying it. Any achievements earned on that character are unlikely to be transferred as it appears achievements are tied to an account and not a specific character – this won’t do anything positive for value of selling a character.
An unknown factor that makes it difficult to speculate on the value of a character is the amount of time required to hit level 60. If it takes a short amount of time (15-20 hours), characters won’t have much value as very little time investment is required. If it takes a much longer period of time (60+ hours) – which is the likely scenario, one might expect cheap labor in the 3rd world to undercut those in the 1st and reduce the profit margins to a point where it’s better to farm for items instead. It’s yet unknown what Blizzard will do (if anything?) to combat farmers leveling characters purely for resale.
Speculating on the value of a character isn’t just about time investment either. There will be forces outside of a player’s control such as patches which might increase the value of one class and/or decimate the value of another.
For example, let’s say a patch nerfs the Witch Doctor and gives buffs to the Wizard which are perceived by the community to be OP thus making the Wizard the most desired class. If you don’t have a level 60 Wizard, you might be inclined to sell your Witch Doctor to fund the purchase of a Wizard. If you play a Wizard and have grown tired of it, want to explore builds that other classes use but don’t have the time or desire to level to 60, this would make for a good opportunity to sell your character at a higher than usual market price.
Of course, this then raises the question of whether or not those who intend to level characters for pure profit should stick to 1 class on which they can ride the higher priced market waves when a patch hits or diversify by leveling all 5 classes. Those that spent considerable time playing Diablo 2 know full well just how many people come back to the game when a patch is released and this is sure to fuel demand.
Another factor that will impact pricing is the 10 character limit per account. Unlike WoW where you could buy up vast quantities of items for resale at a later date, buying up large quantities of cheap characters will require additional accounts. Given most players won’t have more than 1 account, this will help to put a floor under the price of characters.
It’s a given that most players will playthrough the game to enjoy the story while leveling their own character to 60 in the process but what happens when they want try out different classes and the builds that go along with them? There is no compelling reason to level another character from scratch (besides fun) when a level 60 might be purchased for under $500. This is especially important if those 60 hours you would spend leveling to 60 will now be spent in Inferno where you could possibly find more than $500 worth of items in those 60 hours thus recouping the cost of your character purchase.
Do you intend to buy and sell characters or do you feel that it’s a bad idea and should not form part of the RMAH? Will characters be worth $0 or $1000′s? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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