Diablo III‘s real money auction house, which in case you’re just joining us refers to a place you can use actual cash to buy and sell in-game equipment, has been delayed again, and this time Blizzard isn’t saying when it’ll be ready. It was originally due on May 22, then Blizzard bumped it to May 29 and now they’re just saying we’ll see it somewhere around, well, sometime.
“In light of the post-launch obstacles we’ve encountered, we have made the decision to move the launch of the real-money auction house beyond the previously estimated May time frame,” wrote the company in a Battle.net message board post. “As we mentioned in our original announcement, our goal has always been to ensure everyone has the smoothest experience possible when the real-money auction house launches, and we need a bit more time to iron out the existing general stability and gameplay issues before that feature goes live.”
Blizzard doesn’t have a new launch date to share, but says it’ll “have more information soon.”
Whatever you think of the company’s decision to sanction real money transactions — its attempt to control the secondary item trades market and take some of the action in transaction fees — it knows its margin for error is zero. It’d be one thing if hackers find a way to mess with the gold auction house, but imagine them breaching the real money version.
Now some players have expressed concern that the real money auction house might “break the game.” I suppose it could, if self-control ranks low on your list of real-world skills, i.e. you can’t help spending zillions on megabucks gear to cruise to all class 60′s, but that’s pretty much it. As long as Diablo III doesn’t at some point introduce PvP play, say in an expansion, real money’s impact on the game will be minimal, since player competition, if you can even call it that, is limited to indirect indices like achievements. [Update: Whoops, Blizzard's already planning PvP play, so I guess that means we're all pretty much screwed. Okay, just kidding, and we'll have to wait and see how it actually works -- I guess the counterargument to my skepticism is that the real-money trading thing would probably wind up happening on the side, ad hoc, even if Blizzard ruled it out.]
In any case, hey Blizzard, do whatever you need to, to make this day-one safe. Delay indefinitely, we won’t cry foul. Take until July. Or November. Or next year. You’ve said you’re pretty sure no other publisher has done what you’re about to. Fair enough. You know that old saying “There’s never enough time to do something right the first time”? In this case, there has to be.