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Making Money Playing Diablo 3

For somebody who likes playing games and also likes earning money, the idea of doing both at the same time is obviously appealing. A few months ago Blizzard launched their latest incarnation of the Diablo series and with it, introduced the real money auction house (RMAH). A friend of mine, started playing immediately and once he started making hundreds of dollars, it pushed my curiosity far enough to give it a try myself.

How it works

The game is an action RPG where you slay demons and monsters which drop loot and gold. The loot consists of armor or weapons of varying quality and, not surprisingly, the high quality items are very rare. This scarcity is what creates a market which, like any market, can be played to make profit.

The game is also designed in a way that progressing means you pretty much have to buy items on the auction house. And this is what drives the demand.

This does not mean you have to spend money in order to progress. Like I said, monsters also drop gold and this is actually the in game currency and there is a gold money auction house (GMAH) where you can buy everything too. Nevertheless, you can sell gold for real money and buy it back so the markets are tied together.

How much I made and how much can you make?

Not much. The total amount of real money that I made is around $ 110 and factoring the value of the items that I currently own it’s probably around $ 130 (note that purchasing the game sets you back around $60).

People can make a lot more than that. The best way to make large sums is to trade the gold auction house and either sell gold or gear on the real money auction house. So they’re effectively trading like with any other market. I made a point of not doing this actively. Sure, if I stumbled across an item selling for a lot less than it’s worth, then I’d take the opportunity (my record was selling an item for 20 times the price I bought it for) but I would not go out of my way looking for such opportunities. To me that would not be playing the game, it’s just normal trading.

Nonetheless, this would be the only way to really earn larger sums of money.

Making money actually playing the game.

This is done by slaying countless monsters in as little time as possible while maximizing the chance of them rewarding you with good items. It’s called farming in gaming terms and is tedious, time consuming and even when you make money, it’s rarely worth the time you invest. The return per hour is far less than 1$ which means it’s a net loss to most people who have real jobs.

So why do it?

Well, to many people, making a few cent is still worth it if, for example you don’t have a job (yet). Or, in my case, I was going to play games anyway and then I may as well play one that earns me a few pennies. That way I can walk around saying I did something productive and it would only be an exaggeration, not a lie. It’s particularly fun if you have loud music running or watching a movie on another screen.

Why I stopped

I never believed for a second that making money in Diablo was going to be a lasting party – both because I wouldn’t want to do it for long and because the in game market is destined to shrink into oblivion from the moment it started existing. I told myself that, as soon as I saw signs of this happening, I’d stop and so I have when the gold price dropped to half of what it was. Also, the real money auction house has all but turned into a ghost town as of late.

Sure, the market will pick up when the game updates or when there’s an expansion in a year or so, but those will only delay the impending doom, not prevent it.


Other games and money making

Diablo is neither the first nor the most effective money making game. The serious money makers are games that you can hardly classify as such. They’re more like virtual worlds that mimic real life in the sense that they have an economy, taxes, professions and their in game currency has a fixed exchange rate with real money. Well known titles are Second Life and Entropia Universe, both of which have players who make a full time living in the virtual world.

While the potential for making large sums, even millions is definitely there, most people (like in real life) make a loss. This is my problem with making money on computer games. The only way they make that possible is by making them so much like real life, that you may as well do it in real life because it’s just as hard. As soon as a game starts making you money, it stops being a game.

In Short

If playing games and having fun is your goal, then you might make a few bucks on the side.
If making money is your goal, you won’t be having any more fun than you’ll have doing that in real life.


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