It seems to be my week for challenging MMO truisms. Anyone who's played the economic game in any MMO has almost certainly heard the expression "my time is free" usually applied with scorn to people who are selling for lower than production cost. In Eve for example someone might take 150k isk worth of mats, build a ship and sell the ship for 125k - that's obvious not very smart. But a second player might mine the mats, build the ship and sell it for 125k - all it cost him is time. At this point people rather unkindly call him an idiot and point out he could have skipped the shipbuilding and got more for his time spent mining and point to it as an example of the "my time is free" fallacy, of a lack of understanding of opportunity cost. And they could be right but they're only right if isk-making is the be all and end all of the game.
In Diablo 3 I'll be playing to have fun trying out all the moves and mass murdering monsters while playing with my friends. That's the objective. That is, as I define it, leisure as opposed to work which I do for pay.
So what does that mean? That means, my friends, my time is free.
Beating the market is for me an additional part of the game, an additional entertainment, as fun as figuring out how to beat Diablo or how to make a class kick arse. I won't be playing Diablo 3 for money, I won't aim to be a professional gamer, I will play for fun.
Any revenue I get on top of that is a bonus. So if a Brutality Blade should sell for £3.50 but I sell one for £2 I haven't lost £1.50 I've gained £2. My time is free, any income I get is extra to the fun which is the reason I play.
I've seen many commentators giving dire warnings about no one will make any money on the game because we can't compete with Chinese gold farmers. They have it backwards. Chinese gold farmers can't compete with me nor with the 10 million others just like me. Our time is free, those RMT businesses have operating costs to pay and cheap labour is still more expensive than free labour.
I do expect to make money in the game but it's not why I'm playing the game and it doesn't matter. Viewed as a commercial concern my Diablo 3 looks like this:
Money spent = zero (I own a computer anyway, I would have bought the game anyway)
Money earned = 100% profit
That's a dream business, an I can't lose business. And I'm not worried at all about auction house manipulators or Chinese gold farmers because no one attempting to be professional in this game can match my overwhelming economic advantage:
My time is free.