Sunday, January 22, 2012

A social disaster in the making

I am getting a lot of mail lately from people who would like to "guest post" on my blog about Diablo 3, for example about the recent beta changes, or why the RMAH is good for the game. Nice to see so much blogging enthusiasm for Diablo 3? Not quite! Because if you look a bit closer, all these blogging sites have the words "gold guide" in their address. There isn't so much enthusiasm about Diablo 3, but rather for the idea of making money with Diablo 3. Either via the RMAH, or by selling gold guides to people.

Real money changes games. If you think in today's MMORPGs the relations between hardcore and casual players aren't good, you should see the relations between sharks and marks in the games of tomorrow. Game-related crime is going to become a lot more frequent. And there is going to be a lot more angry shouting and accusations.

As Wikipedia defines games, "A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements.", it becomes clear that if games are NOT done for enjoyment, but rather for remuneration, they become a kind of work for some people. And that leads to a fundamental misalignment of interests between people who are in the game to play, and those who are in the game to work for a living.

Diablo 3 is a negative sum game. No real value is ever created in that game. The only thing that is happening is a transfer of real money from some players to others, with Blizzard taking their cut. And it is blindingly obvious that what the buyers want and what the sellers want is diametrically opposed. Any patch, any nerf, any change of drop rate is going to be hailed by one side, and opposed by the other. And there is going to be a lot of fighting and unpleasantness about it, to a degree which will make the official WoW forums look like a pleasant place to hang out in comparison.

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