That's the catch associated with one of the big new features in Blizzard's big new game: the fact that you'll be able to buy and sell in-game items with other players in Diablo III. You couldn't do this officially in earlier Diablo games. In the new one you can, but with fees attached.
So what are you going to be able to buy and sell? Gold. Items. Money and loot, basically. And since Diablo games are all about collecting loot, this is probably going to be a popular feature -- so popular that you just might want to turn some in-game sales with other players into real money to line your wallet. And that's where the fees come in.
When you sell commodities such as gems and recipes on the auction house, Blizzard will take a 15 per cent cut of the final sales price, the developer said in an extensive FAQ posted today. When you sell equipment such as weapons or armour, Blizzard will take $US1 per item.
Blizzard will also take its own 15 per cent cut as a transfer fee if you cash out to third-party payment service PayPal. (This is in addition to any fees that PayPal may charge on its own.) If you want to avoid that fee, your only option is to deposit your profits in your Battle.net Balance, which you can then use to buy digital copies of Blizzard games or more items at the Diablo III auction house. Your Battle.net Balance can't be turned into cash. You can link a credit card to pay for items, but you can't use it to receive money.
In other words, if you're selling commodities and you want to turn your profits into real cash (not Battle.net funds), you'll have to pay Blizzard a 15 per cent sales fee, then a 15 per cent transfer fee. If you're selling equipment and you want to turn your profits into cash, you'll have to pay a $US1/item sales fee, then a 15 per cent transfer fee.
"Note that the process of sending proceeds to a third-party payment service will be subject to applicable fees charged by Blizzard and the third-party payment service," Blizzard writes in its FAQ. "Also, any proceeds from the sale of items in the real-money auction house that have been sent to the player's Battle.net Balance will not be transferrable to the third-party payment service account."
For avid Diablo III players, these fees could add up quickly. They could also drive players to buy and sell on the shady black market websites that were prevalent back in the early 2000s, when Blizzard had no official real-money auction house for the popular series. But Blizzard says even with transaction fees, players will prefer the officially sanctioned system."The item-based nature of Diablo gameplay has always lent itself to an active trade-based ecosystem, and a significant part of this trade has been conducted through unsecure [sic] third-party organisations," Blizzard said. "This has led to numerous customer-service and game-experience issues that we've needed to account for. Our primary goal with the Diablo III auction house system is for it to serve as the foundation for a player-driven economy that's safe, fun, and accessible to everyone."
Your Battle.net Balance will cap at $US250, after which you will no longer be able to put items up for sale in the real-money auction house. The maximum amount you can bid on an item is $US250. The minimum is $US1.25.
Blizzard also said they will not be putting items up for sale themselves; all transactions will be left up to players.