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Blipvert: August 1, 2011 (Diablo 3 Auction Houses & Minecraft Middle Earth)

William Flickinger
United States
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Welcome to another new month. Depending on where you live, you are either in the middle of summer, or the middle of winter. I hope that everyone is staying as comfortable as possible wherever you live. Remember, if the weather outside is atrocious...why not stay inside and play some video games?


Diablo III - I figure I should just start with this news since it will be something that many people will be debating for quite some time. Blizzard just had a press event last week at which people got to play a pretty solid beta build of the early portion of the game. Overall, reviews have been pretty positive. However, the big news relates to Blizzard's announcement of TWO in-game auction houses.

The first will be very familiar to players of WoW. It uses in-game gold to purchase the auction items. The second will be a brand new venture for Blizzard. They will have an auction house that will accept real life money! Players will be able to spend hard-earned cash from their real jobs to pay for virtual items that are being sold by other players. You can read the official Blizzard info HERE

Joystiq and IGN both have very extensive articles that discuss what is known about the auction house so far. I have gone through and taken out a few paragraphs that I think reveal quite a bit about Blizzard's philosophy:

"Blizzard will take fixed fees (as yet unrevealed, though they'll be "nominal") out of the sale price both when an auction goes up for sale and when it is actually sold. And when an item is sold, players will either be able to keep earned money in a account for spending on Blizzard products and services, or cash out entirely, with another, percentage-based fee through a not-yet-announced third-party payment provider.

"There are some people out there that don't have the ability to put a time investment into the game, so they do want to use real-world money to kind of advance their character," says Pardo. "And the other side of it is that there are people who have a lot of time and don't benefit from it, because they'll be able to generate items, and get better items or cash it out."

As you might imagine, this whole process raises quite a few questions of legality and finance -- Blizzard is basically going to run a virtual item marketplace that encompasses an international audience and is populated by an army of anonymous (though secure and verified) merchants and buyers. Pardo says that the fact he's telling us about the system at all means Blizzard believes it's ready to go. "What we've found," he says with a nervous chuckle, "is that no one's actually done this before. So it has been a long road to getting to where we are today, where we can actually announce we're doing this."

I really don't know how I feel about this. I kind of get the sense that this will be opening up the door to many potential abuses, and other unforeseen complications. I cannot really pin down the reasons why I get a bad vibe from this announcement, but I do. Feel free to chime in with your opinions if you have any.

Minecraft - The game that keeps getting bigger and bigger. It really has a life of its own at this point. I know this video has been making the rounds, but I wanted to make sure that people have the opportunity to see it. I find it really impressive! Granted, the designers are all insane! I cannot imagine spending the number of hours that they spent creating a scale model of Middle Earth within Minecraft. The entire video is rather long so feel free to take the advice that they give at the beginning and jump to 27:00 to start to look at Rivendell. The Mines of Moria are about 5 min later.

The Minecraft Middle Earth crew is currently accepting donations and contributor applications on their website. If you think you have the time or money to assist in their crazy endeavor, then go right ahead and join the insanity.

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