Diablo III's Virtual Economy About to Transform the Real One
Blizzard's Diablo III is launching today, and with it, the Auction House, where players can trade game items for real money. (Check out Blizzard's FAQ on it here.) The latest installment in a best-selling franchise (Diablo II sold 4 million copies), from a major media corporation, this will easily become the world's most prominent real money-virtual goods marketplace. We don't know how big this will be, or all the unintended consequences it will bring, but I'm pretty confident major transformations will follow. Here's some initial thoughts:
- It's a safe bet that Diablo III will eventually sell 7 to 10 million copies.
- To play the game at all, you need to be online, which means every Diablo III player will have constant access to the Auction House.
- Assuming 15% of the player base actively uses the Auction House, that means well over a million players engaging in real-to-virtual trading.
- Unlike Diablo II, which was released in 2000, Diablo III is coming out during a global recession, when millions in the developed world own the computers to play the game, but are under-employed, and have a huge incentive to engage with the Auction House.
- Given the above, I wouldn't be surprised if we see over 150,000 to 250,000 people making some, most, or even all of their real life income from Diablo III. Perhaps much more.
At that size, we are talking about a workforce larger than many real world industries, engaging in activity worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I don't know all the implications to come from this, but I definitely think we're not prepared for the impact. Watch this excellent Penny Arcade video, which is just scraping the surface from a gamer perspective.
Oh, and the image connected to this post? It's a Diablo III virtual-real money profit calculator, which someone created last year. As I said, we are not prepared for what's about to hit.