This post is written in reply to Markco's challenge for his January blogging carnival. The topic is "Will Diablo 3 make more money than World of Warcraft thanks to the RMAH?"
First, let me start off by saying that Diablo 3 is no longer at the forefront of my imagination right now. There's no fresh news to digest, no beta key and no hope that it will be released earlier than March.
Having said that, I still think about it occasionally, but perhaps not often enough, as can be inferred by my lack of posting. As such, Markco's blogging carnival is very useful for taking me out of my apathy.
The question he poses is a bit too general to answer with precision. I mean, I have no doubt that Diablo 3 will make more money than WoW. The question is, what kind of money and for whom?
While WoW only deals in 1 type of currency, gold, Diablo 3 will have 2 currencies: gold and real money. In WoW, gold is useless outside of the game. It has no real value in the real world because you can't use it to buy bread, for example. Yes, there are unofficial ways of trading in gold but that's not the scope of this article and not something I'm interested in. I used to cheat in games when I was a little kid and knew no better. I feel that cheating only helps to spoil the game and make it boring, quickly.
Diablo 3's gold would be just as useless as WoW's, except that this time around real money is involved. Since there will be an official exchange rate between real money and gold, the latter will obviously have real value outside of the game.
Whether the total amount of gold in Diablo 3 will be higher than that in WoW remains to be seen but I tend to believe that it will surpass it greatly. Leaving aside the fact that you can't draw a parallel between Diablo 3's and WoW's gold (they are both called "gold" but there is no relationship between them), with time Diablo 3 will most likely circulate more gold than WoW. First, Diablo 3 is the future while WoW is in decline. Second, it will be much easier for people to make gold in D3 than in WoW, simply for the fact that it drops in large quantities from monsters. In WoW there are plenty of poor people who have barely managed to save 1000 gold but in D3 you will make lots of gold as long as you keep playing the game. Besides, D3 is not really a social game where you can gather around with your friends and shoot the breeze. You log in to kill shit, not to sit and gossip or whatnot.
Moving on to real money, of course D3 will make more than WoW, for the simple fact that real money doesn't exist in WoW's economy. The first cent made by someone on the RMAH will automatically surpass WoW. I realize that this is a bit tongue-in-cheek but it's simple logic.
Those who will make real money in D3 will, first of all, be the ones who choose to trade on the RMAH. There will be plenty of people who will stay away from the RMAH, whether on principle or because they don't have money to spend on virtual items. But for those who will actively engage in real money trading, there are profits to be made.
There is also potential for loss. You could list your stuff multiple times on the RMAH without it selling, but still have to pay listing fees. If you are careless, that could certainly happen. But it doesn't have to. Remember that Blizzard will offer a number of free listings per week to everyone. That, alone, is great news because it allows people to participate in the RMAH risk-free. Those who just want to test how the system works can do so without fear of losing money.
I think that's great. Diablo 3 won't replace your full-time job but it can be a very satisfying hobby which not only offers tons of fun but also helps you make a little money on the side. At the very least, if you can cover the cost of the game, you are still a winner. And hey, even if you don't wish to partake in the RMAH, D3 will be just as fun to play.