Diablo III's Auction House hase been up and running for a while now, and people are starting to get wise to precisely how it works. Reddit user WishboneTheDog claims to have made upwards of $10,000 using the service, and has been answering questions about his processes on Reddit.
WishboneTheDog studies Business at University, and claims he has simply applied lessons learnt from everyday trading and brought that skillset to Diablo III.
"People think that paying "real money" in a video game is a huge leap from paying in gold or from grinding for an item," he said. "What people don't realize is that currencies are only a numerical representation of value. As soon as there is a collective demand for goods, both virtual and "real," value is created. Humans developed currencies to represent this value in a tangible way, and to make the exchange of these goods more liquid.
"When there is collective demand from real people for an item within a game market, the same value is created as anything else in the world, and you can put a number on it. That number can be different depending on the currency you are using to represent the value. You need a lot more Yen than Euros to represent the same value. The same goes for gold."
According to WishtheBone, it's all about being prepared to 'pay to win'.
"You always pay to win," he said. "I just explained how gold and USD are very much the same within a game economy, but there is something even less tangible that is also the same: time. Time is the most valuable currency there is. There is an exchange rate for time to money, but there is no exchange rate back.
"Gamers who play within economies create the value of the currency (gold) when they take time to accumulate that currency, and the rarity of an item contributes to the item's value equal to the amount of time a person would have to play to statistically obtain it. This is very similar to any currency and wage labor."
He compares it to folks who are willing to pay extreme amounts of money for, say Golf Equipment, but don't necessarily have the time to accumulate the skill. These people want to play to their full potential when they do have time.
The whole thing really is fascinating. You can check out the Reddit thread here.