Blizzard on Diablo 3: gold farmers and players "really doing the same activity"

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Yesterday we reported that Diablo 3 will let you buy and sell items for real money. During the event, the inevitable question about gold farmers came up: doesn't this just make it safer and easier for them?

Executive producer Rob Pardo replied: "Theoretically that’s true, but I mean there’s really nothing… what’s the difference between a player that plays the game a lot and a gold farmer? I mean they’re really doing the same activity."

World of Warcraft is plagued by people trying to sell in-game gold gleaned by repetitively playing the most lucrative areas of the game. Pardo assured us this would be different in Diablo 3: "One of the big differences between, let’s say Diablo versus World of Warcraft, is that in Diablo you can play your own instance of the game."

Lead designer Jay Wilson responded to the suggestion that Blizzard might be seen as encouraging the sweatshop-like conditions Chinese gold-farming operations are known for. "Well, I think if someone wanted to accuse us of that, they could accuse us of that for just making the games that we make. If anything, I would say that these systems are trying to take some of that element back and put it into the game, and give it to the players. Will someone say that? Yeah, people say all kinds of things, but do we think it's true? No."

Did they consider this before deciding to add a real money auction house? "Of course." Jay says. "Of course we did. Yeah. But we just didn't consider it valid. The best way to not encourage bad things to happen with the world is never do anything. Just the very fact that we make games that people like to play, you could say that there's bad results to that. But we say no, we think that the games that we make are awesome, and we think they promote good experiences for our player base. And that's what we really care about."