Aron Janarv and Markus Warne

New Incentives for Players in Virtual Goods Trade – How the Marketplace in Diablo 3 Changes Trade with Virtual Goods


Real money trade with virtual goods between players has long been viewed as an unreliable black market. With the introduction of the Real-Money-Auction-House in the game Diablo 3 the developers, Blizzard, are changing this. This official free market will change players incentives to participate in trade with virtual goods and in this study we try and predict how this change will manifest. We base our analysis on a discussion group and survey of potential players as well as basic market theories tied to the structural change that the Real-Money-Auction-House will introduce. Some of the primary incentives that we identified as changing are bound to the marketplace and its properties. More specifically the scale, centralization and security. Blizzard’s latest games have a great amount of active players and we can assume many of these players will be inherited by Diablo 3. This combined with a free centralized market will create an highly efficient market where the price is set by the forces of supply and demand and the information available on the goods. The player to player markets of virtual goods have up until now been conducted through unofficial third party suppliers. Players on these third party markets are plagued by frauds and unreliability. By stepping in as a middleman for all transactions Blizzard will provide a secure marketplace. We found that enabling trade at a no-risk scenario is very attractive to most of the playerbase and will help the growth of this market.