A few months ago, Blizzard introduced the WoW Token. It wasn’t an entirely new concept, since other games have used something similar, but it was new for World of Warcraft players. In short, it gave players a safe way to purchase gold directly from Blizzard.
It also enabled players to use the in-game gold currency to pay for game time (instead of having to use real world currency). Diablo III is not subscription based, so that part of the WoW Token doesn’t relate to Diablo III. Even so, I think it is time for a D3 Token to be added to the game.
Many have said that one of the main purposes of the WoW Token, from Blizzard’s perspective, was to force the gold sellers out of the game. I’ve not seen Blizzard officially state that, so I suppose this thought could be considered speculation. It does make a certain amount of sense, though.
The WoW Token price is something that is set by Blizzard. A player can buy a WoW Token (from the WoW store, which is accessible in-game) with real world currency and then sell it in the in-game World of Warcraft Auction House. Blizzard decides, at that moment, how much gold the WoW Token is worth.
Some other player comes to the Auction House and buys that WoW Token for whatever amount of gold the WoW Token is worth at that moment. The first player gets the amount of gold that they, and Blizzard, originally agreed on.
The player who bought the WoW Token can only do one thing with it – exchange it, directly with Blizzard, for game time. The WoW Tokens are “Soulbound”. Once purchased, they can only be used by that player.
That’s the key, I think, if the goal was to force the illegal gold sellers out of business. Blizzard can set the price of a WoW Token so that it is lower than the amount of real world currency that a player would have to spend if he or she wanted to buy gold from a gold seller. The gold sellers can’t buy up a ton of WoW Tokens and then try to sell them to individual players. At the same time, players know that buying or selling WoW Tokens from Blizzard is safe – much safer than doing business with a gold seller would be.
I think it’s time for Blizzard to introduce a D3 Token. It’s obvious that there are tons of gold sellers plaguing Diablo III and filling up the chat box. In my experience, reporting those gold sellers is ineffective. It feels like no matter how many I report – nothing changes. Players can block a gold seller who they are tired of seeing spam up the chat. However, there is a limit on how many players a person can block. The gold sellers outnumber that limit.
Why are they so many gold sellers in Diablo III? It has to be because they are making money. They are finding players who want to buy gold from them. In addition, some of these nefarious gold sellers are selling “services” (and I’ll get into that a bit later.)
How would a D3 Token work? It cannot function exactly the same way the WoW Token does because Diablo III doesn’t require a subscription. Diablo III players will never need to purchase game time. In addition, Diablo III no longer has any version of the Auction Houses that once existed in the game. Diablo III also doesn’t have a “Diablo Store”…. yet.
I think one may be coming “soon”. Blizzard is already working on a system that would allow for micro transactions to happen in the Diablo III game itself. It’s not available in all regions yet, but there is reason to believe that if Blizzard can get that to work in one region they might consider bringing micro transactions to other regions later on.
Here’s the way I see it. Blizzard introduces the D3 Token. Players who want to buy gold can use real world currency to pay for a D3 Token. They buy it directly from Blizzard. Right now, that transaction might have to involve a player’s Battle.net wallet. Blizzard can set the price of the D3 Token so that it is less expensive to buy gold from Blizzard than it is to buy it from a gold seller. And, as with the WoW Token, it’s also a whole lot safer to buy directly from Blizzard.
Why would a Diablo III player want to buy gold? The first reason that comes to mind is so they can more easily pay their repair costs. Before you start focusing on Greater Rifts, buy a D3 Token. Spend some real world currency for in-game gold – directly through Blizzard itself. You’re going to get beat up in the Greater Rifts no matter what happens – but the “pain” might be lessened if you can go in there knowing you can afford the repair bill.
A new Diablo III player could buy a D3 Token for roughly the same reason. There’s a point while a player is leveling a brand new low level character where the character is too “squishy” to do much damage. They end up having to pay for a relatively high repair bill at a time when it’s difficult to earn the gold with which to pay for it. If this is their first character, there’s not much that can be done to change the situation (other than work through it or buy gold). They can safely buy the gold from Blizzard.
This brings me to the bit about the “services” that the illegal gold sellers offer. One service they sell is a leveling service. The screenshot I used at the top of this blog shows a gold selling company who will level a player’s soft core character from 1 to 70 for what looks to me like $3.00 an hour. The D3 Token could make that offer less appealing to players. Why take a chance with one of those dubious companies when you can buy gold from Blizzard itself? Use the gold to buy gear from vendors and to pay for repair costs. Leveling just got a lot less annoying, too.
As for the rest of the “services” gold sellers offer… I think a person would have to be the newest “N00b” ever to believe that what they are offering is legal (or even possible). This is especially true for the offer that says they can sell you “full Ancient sets for all characters”. There’s no way for them to actually hand that over to a player. It is not possible to trade items in Diablo III. Sure, that company could connect a player with one of their people, and the two could get into a game together. And, yes, it would be possible for that person to drop a bunch of Legendary Ancient set pieces on the ground. But, the player cannot pick them up, and therefore, can’t use them.
The same is true for the “service” of getting your character from Paragon 1 to 1,000. How are they doing this? If you share your account information with these dubious companies, you are taking a huge risk. And, you’re also breaking the terms of service, and could find yourself banned. Why take that chance? There are plenty of players who are willing to let a lower level character join their game and help them level up – for free. It can be done without breaking the terms of service so long as the lower level player is, you know, actually playing the game. Run back to clear areas and pick up health globes, or something.
Let’s get back to the potential addition of micro transactions in Diablo III. I’ve heard speculation that the Diablo Store would sell players cosmetic items like specialized character portraits and non-combat pets. In other words, the Diablo Store wouldn’t function like the Auction Houses did. You won’t be able to buy weapons and armor. In other words, it won’t be the “pay to win” situation that some felt the Auction Houses were enabling.
Blizzard could set up the D3 Token ahead of when the micro transactions are brought into the game. Players would get used to spending real world currency on a D3 Token that can be exchanged for gold – again, right through Blizzard. The WoW Token doesn’t have to be used immediately after purchase – players can hold onto it and exchange it when they want to. The same could be true for the D3 Token. Spend some real world money today, when you have a little extra to spend. Exchange it for gold later, when you are dealing with high repair bills. Or, exchange it for gold later on when there’s something in the Diablo Store that you simply must have right this minute.
By the time the micro transactions are ready, players will be used to the concept of the D3 Token. It would be possible for Blizzard to offer the cosmetic items that would be in the Diablo Store for two prices – one price for if the player was spending real world currency, and another price for if the player was spending in-game gold.
They already do this in two of their other games: Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. You can spend real world money to buy a pack of cards in Hearthstone, or you can use some of the gold you earned in game to buy yourself a pack of cards. You can unlock Heroes in Heroes of the Storm with real world currency, or you can spend your in-game gold to do it. People who have extra real world money can use that to buy what they want. Those who are “low income” can buy what they want with in-game gold (but it takes a lot longer to do that).
I think the D3 Token would be “win/win” for both Blizzard and for players. Blizzard has a new means of generating income from players (who want to spend real world currency on gold or items that are in the Diablo Store). Players have a safe and efficient way to buy gold, without breaking the terms of service. The only losers in this situation are the gold selling companies who are trying to scam players with offers that are impossible for them to fulfill.