Published on August 6th, 2012 | by Ethan

How I made real American money in Diablo 3

In-game economy has always made me interested in MMOs. From the very first time I booted up Everquest and realized I could set up a shop to hawk my loot, I was sold on the concept of massively multiplayer games. During the end of my stay in World of Warcraft I played strictly the auction house. I figured out what the demand was and how I could capitalize on it and cornered the market.

By the time I quit, I had bought every single item money could buy and had tons of gold on reserve. So when I heard that Diablo 3 would have an auction house where players could buy items with real money, I was intrigued. Here is a log about how I attempted to make enough money in Diablo 3 to buy the next StarCraft II expansion, whenever it comes out.

While I was into playing the game I pretty much ignored the real money auction house. I hadn’t found anything good enough to sell on the RMAH even while playing on the highest level of difficulty, Infernal. So I ignored it and happily played the game while using just the plain old gold auction house. This all changed when I was running through Act 1 Infernal with a friend (post 1.0.3 patch, which made rarer drops more common) and that glorious weapon dropped.

To be realistic it wasn’t that glorious, a level 63 one handed sword with around 850 dps and 200 strength, but finding it was definitely a highlight of that run. I threw the item up on the RMAH for ten bucks, not expecting to get anything from it, but the next morning I woke up to an email saying my item sold for ten dollars in real American currency. With the prospect that I could earn actual money from this game, my priorities of the game changed. No longer was I playing just for fun, I was also gambling, mostly BTV168. Every time I killed an elite pack, champion or boss I had a small chance to earn actual money. This aspect added an exciting new layer to the game.

Who doesn’t like a large screenshot of a blogger’s Diablo III dude with all of his sweet gear on?

My problem with Blizzard’s RMAH is that I can’t sign up for real money to be transferred to my PayPal account because I don’t have a mobile phone number. Well I do, but apparently they needs a mobile phone number that isn’t a prepaid phone number. Everyone living in my house only has prepaid phones, because they work so well for what we need. It kind of sucks, but the ability to buy stuff off of the Blizzard store is still nice. Plus they don’t take a %15 cut when you buy from them. Maybe I will get into the World of Warcraft trading card game with all the money I earn on the RMAH. For right now, I would rather aim for the goal to earn enough money off the RMAH to buy the Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft II.

Day 1:

Yup this little digital item with numbers on it might make me some real cash.

So here I am now trying to recreate that glory again and working towards my goal, but so far no luck. I have been farming Act 1 over and over with my Witch Doctor trying to get another useful level 63 item to drop, but to no avail. After about 4 hours of farming and watching TV, the best I got was an item level 63 two-handed crossbow with 819 dps called the Striking Avenger.

I threw it up on the auction house just for grins and giggles for $13, but I am not expecting anything to come out of it. Although that is the same attitude I had about my old one-handed sword, which magically turned into $10. I’ll come back tomorrow morning and see if anything has happened to that item. I might have gotten a little greedy by asking $13 for an item not nearly as good as the last one. Only time will tell.

Current money in account: $10

Day 2:

After grinding in Act 1 for a few hours, I was getting discourage. I felt like I had been churning my wheels and wasn’t ever going to make any more cash out Diablo 3 and my sword was a onetime fluke. When I was making my way through Act 2 for progression purposes and stumbled upon a pair of gloves that sold for $5.

Finally something happened. Now with a $15 nest egg, I wonder if I could invest that in a cheap item that I could resell for an even bigger profit. After looking for an hour, it seems item flipping on the RMAH wasn’t the most effective strategy. I used to do this all the time in the gold auction house, but it really wasn’t that much fun due to the clunky interface. Maybe I need more money and take bigger risks on the RMAH. My best bet was to do what I had been doing, which was running the route that was shown on this video.  So far it seems pretty effective. On an average run, I make off with about 40 rares in an hour.

Today I beat Belial in Act 2 Infernal as well and hit a brick wall in Act 3. This act will require a bit of grinding and gearing up and with the increase in repair bills in the latest patch, this seems like a good place to quit for the night. Right now I have 3 items up on the RMAH, but only expect one of those to sell.

Current money in account: $15

Day 3:

Finally, a patch for Witch Doctor arrived this morning. Zombie Bears are debugged and are now probably the best way for my class to farm Act 1. I logged in and noticed my bow had been taken off the auction house. I guess I had been asking too much. When I put it back up, I asked for $6.99, which is about half of what I asking before. After running about two of my farming runs I went outside to do some shopping. While out, I got an email that said that my bow had sold for $5.99.

Can’t say I am disappointed by the quick turnaround. Even if I made less money than I had hoped to get, money is money and it all adds up. I don’t have as much time to farm today, but I threw another piece of unsold pants up on the auction house at a discounted price of $3.99. All of this writing about sales prices makes me feel like a sales man. Anyway off to bed dreaming about waking up to a nice email.

Current money in account: $20.99

Day 4:

                Busy day today with my mom’s birthday happening and all so not much time to fiddle with Diablo 3 farming, but I did log into to check my auctions. Nothing sold, which is discouraging, but then again I knew the stuff I was putting on the market wasn’t good enough for people to actually want to spend money. So I put back up a not so great Witch Doctor knife for the price of $2.99 and we will see if anyone bites.

Current money in account: $20.99

Day 5-6:

                I didn’t have any time to play games these two days, but over this time I never received any emails, so I knew exactly what that meant.

Current money in account: $20.99

Will I reach my goal of not paying Blizzard a dime (just my time that I will never get back) for StartCraft II: Heart of the Swarm? Find out next week when the second article goes up!

Featured image done by Maxarkes. Original art can be found here.

This article was written about a month ago and from what I have read, a large percent of the player base has stopped playing Diablo III. Since then, the demand for high end items has gone down, so I can imagine that the amount of money I would have made in today’s market would not be as high.

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About the Author

Ethan Having long been an avid gamer, Ethan found his niche in the PC gaming market, while still occasionally dabbling in the medium that got him into gaming, consoles. Usually, he finds time to play his Xbox 360 and occasionally will dust of his Wii for a bit to play with friends and family when he isn’t found locked in his room playing shooters and strategy games. Follow him on Twitter: @ethanhawkes

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