Also you don't know what restrictions they plan to have to prevent things like hacked/stolen items from being sold (i.e. a grace period before you can sell an item on the cash AH).
You sound really bitter and jaded, I'm not really sure why either. It's like you are directing all the anger you should have for game companies that actually do rip people off at one that doesn't because you are afraid they might in the future...
Yes, people will buy up under-priced goods to try and play the system but that would be a problem regardless (as gold-selling would be happening anyway).
The ability to finish stuff is the most important in a game dev.
Anyway, when two players engage in a transaction, where the seller gets at least the minimum asked for price, and the buyer pays no more than they wanted to, what's the problem? Who loses? It's not unreasonable for the facilitator of the transaction and the infrastructure owner (Blizzard) to take an open, transparent cut. I have problems with necessitating a constant online connection, but I have no issues with the existence or the nature of the marketplace.
Is anyone else really curious to see how the whole thing works out? It'll be a fascinating demonstration in economic fundamentals, seeing how everything prices out, and how Blizzard choose to deal with demand issues or interesting market activity.
My prediction is, given the size of the market, supply will be generous. Thus, only the greatest and rarest items will end up on the real money side of the auction house, which will nevertheless do fine business. Most non-hardcore players will find plenty of good deals on perfectly decent stuff on the fake money side. The thing that would throw this off is inadequate inflation controls, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they manage that.
I'm hoping that open real money trading will end up highlighting the fundamental emptiness and unsatisfying nature of grind-based mechanics to more and more players. Also hoping that the incentives RMT gives the developers will lead to said developers fucking up their games, so we get less stupid grinding in the future. (Next in line, a live talking pony that poops marshmallows, because obviously anything is possible with my godly luck.)
It's not grinding if doing it is fun regardless of reward.
When the entire game falls flat on its face when you strip out the "reward", it's not just a game with a grind in it but a grind-based game.
When I play Diablo 2, if I had a button that would get me all of the items and experience that the play session I intended would provide, I wouldn't press it. So it doesn't count as grinding. I assume that Diablo 3 is likely to be the same.
If the game did not have items and experience to begin with, would there be a point to playing it? If yes, how long would it stay attractive compared to the version that has stuff to accumulate?
To clarify how I'm using the terms, I tend to call an element of a game a grind if it is repetitive, its results accumulate by time, and I would rather not do it. (Typically it is also quite unchallenging.) This is necessarily a subjective determination as it depends both on "fun" and to a point, "challenge". My calling a game grind-based is broader and somewhat less subjective; those games are highly dependent on accumulating something over time with repetitive activity over different play sessions, and fall apart or become a shadow of their former selves if you take that away. In other words those games primarily satisfy the player's collecting instincts (not to mention OCD tendencies). I'm not saying they are outright bad, but what enjoyment there is available from them feels hollow to me so I avoid them. What I have a real problem with is the recent fashion of grinds being tacked on non-grind-based games which I might actually want to play.
OK, then I don't think what you called a grind-based game is a bad thing. Indeed, Diablo 2 would not be much fun for very long if it had no experience or items. And you definitely accumulate these through a repetitive activity. But this repetitive activity involves using the items and experience, and working out which items are working best and how your skills are best used, and is in itself quite entertaining as long as skills/items are changing from time to time. So I don't think it's an empty experience at all. And if I had a big "give me xp" button next to me I don't think I would press it (maybe to get to lvl 20 or so, but that's only because low-level character play similarly and I've played a lot).
I don't see a game or a game element where you repeat tasks to get a reward to be grindy unless, given the choice between repeating the tasks and getting the reward and just getting the reward, I would choose the reward. I wouldn't do that in Diablo. In some online games I've briefly played then I would. I consider whether the game would become boring without the reward to be an irrelevant question; this just suggests that the game would get stale if nothing changed. I'd say this is true of a lot of games. The difference, I suppose, is between "I am playing the game, which is fun, and aiming for a reward which will make the game continue to be fun rather than stale" and "I am playing the game and aiming for a reward which will make the game start being fun".
A lot of people like this kind of gameplay, just because you don't doesn't mean it's stupid or bad design.
There's a third option common for grind-based games which hits me every time I make the mistake of getting into one of them. "I was playing, and it seemed to make sense to always go for the next step in the succession of 'rewards' which was dangled in front of my nose, and the whole thing just seems pointless in hindsight."I don't see a game or a game element where you repeat tasks to get a reward to be grindy unless, given the choice between repeating the tasks and getting the reward and just getting the reward, I would choose the reward. I wouldn't do that in Diablo. In some online games I've briefly played then I would. I consider whether the game would become boring without the reward to be an irrelevant question; this just suggests that the game would get stale if nothing changed. I'd say this is true of a lot of games. The difference, I suppose, is between "I am playing the game, which is fun, and aiming for a reward which will make the game continue to be fun rather than stale" and "I am playing the game and aiming for a reward which will make the game start being fun".