As virtual fantasy worlds go, Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo 3 is particularly foreboding. In this multiplayer online game played by millions, witch doctors, demon hunters, and other character types duke it out in a war between angels and demons in a dark world called Sanctuary. The world is reminiscent of Judeo-Christian notions of hell: fire and brimstone, with the added fantasy elements of supernatural combat waged with magic and divine weaponry. And within a fairly straightforward gaming framework, virtual “gold” is used as currency for purchasing weapons and repairing battle damage. Over time, virtual diablo 3 gold can be used to purchase ever-more resources for confronting ever-more dangerous foes.
In economics, hyperinflation occurs when a country experiences very high and usually accelerating inflation. While the real values of the specific economic items generally stay the same in terms of relatively stable foreign currencies, in hyperinflationary conditions the general price level within a specific economy increases rapidly as the functional or internal currency, as opposed to a foreign currency, loses its real value very quickly, normally at an accelerating rate. Economists usually follow Cagan’s description that hyperinflation occurs when the monthly inflation rate exceeds 50%
Inflation is inevitably due to an over-abundance in the money supply. In online worlds, as more people play, farm and bot, the money supply soars and prices concomitantly go up.An initial inflationary phase is expected and is not a sign of an unhealthy system. More people are playing, further on in the game, where gold drops are higher.
At the same time, as identical blues flood the market, their prices drop as sellers seek more thrifty buyers.
The RMAH had minimum and maximum dollar amounts for in-game gold transactions: $0.25 minimum, $250 maximum. Market participants were also limited to dealing in increments of a certain size, called a “stack.” The “stack” was initially set to 100K gold. But as gold prices fell owing to rapidly building supply, the stack size was changed in August 2012 to 1 million. This practice, known as redenomination, is a fairly standard (if cosmetic) method of addressing inflation, but was viewed by some players as tacit devaluation
To be clear, at the time at which the redenomination was introduced, gold was still trading above the floor rate. But being artificial, caps and floors not only prevent markets from clearing, but give black markets a target to undercut, to say nothing of offering players an opportunity to avoid the 15 percent fee — another intended gold sink — levied upon transactions within the auction house. Another player predicted,
By early 2013, the gold price had fallen to the exchange floor set by the game managers — $0.25/million — and players began to show signs of concern. One asked,