I don't know if you're being sarcastic or not, but no, what they're doing is recognizing that something is going to inevitably happen and making it benefit them. People are going to farm the shit out of stuff and then sell it via a third party anyway. This way they cut out the shady middleman and at least take some of the profits that are being made off of their game.
I find it morally repulsive because Blizzard is fucking leaching the life out of its players.
I know some people want
that and are willing to subject themselves to mindless repetitive gameplay where leveling up is more important than actual skill, but I'm sure as hell not going to praise Blizzard for being willing to take advantage of such people.
This kind of game leads you on with the false belief: "Oh, the more time you spend with the game the more money you can make! So play a lot! Yay!" It's such an alluring idea, too. It's so fucking tempting. Cause you have a choice between playing let's say TF2 and Diablo III. Replace TF2 with whatever your favorite game is as this is a hypothetical situation. You come home and sit down and ask yourself, "What should I play? TF2 which I enjoy a shitton or Diablo III which I enjoy a lot, but could possibly make a few bucks in?" You take a second and go with the obvious answer, "Diablo III, it is."
THAT IS THE INNOCENT SORT OF ISSUE THAT IS SO FUCKING TEMPTING. IT SEEMS SO INNOCUOUS BUT THAT'S THE SORT OF THING THAT WILL CONSUME ALL OF YOUR FREE TIME. BLIZZARD WILL SUCK YOU DRY AND YOU WILL LOVE THEM FOR IT.
"Hm, do I try out this new awesome game... or play Diablo III which I've played for 9999 hours, but could possibly make a few bucks in?" "
"Hm, do I spend 2 hours to watch this movie everyone's talking about... or play Diablo III and possibly make money?"
It's the same fucking thing as going to a casino and playing on the slot machines. You are doing repetitive work for the chance to make money even if the actual gameplay has grown stale.
You may claim immunity from the lure of a chance at money, but you'd be fucking wrong. No one is fucking immune. Sometimes it's subconscious, but your decision-making on how to spend your time gets twisted by the possibility of winning the virtual lottery. It's similar to how advertising affects people, it gets past your conscious mind and plants this idea that festers. Companies would not spend billions on TV commercials if there weren't proven studies that they work just the same way Blizzard wouldn't be going through all this trouble of real-cash auction houses if they weren't sure that it'd consume more of a player's life and give them massive profits.
Regardless of my protests millions of fucking people will buy Diablo III and those millions will probably make use of the Auction House at some point and Blizzard will become as rich as all fucking hell. Or rather Blizzard will become as rich as all of hell, earth and heaven combined because they already have WoW and Starcraft.
Then every other game company will be like, "hey that's a good idea, but it really only works if we make a RPG-style game, gogogogo diablo-ripoff, final fantasy-ripoff, othershittygame-ripoff."
And then my video-game Hell scenario will be complete. We will only ever have micro-transaction RPG games and companies will only focus on how to make the most money by taking advantage of our neurosis and complexes and disorders and addictions. Twenty years from now, there will be no real "games" left, just timesinks with possible monetary bonuses and cool level-up screens.
And it will be all your fault.