Get ready to auction in Diablo 3, the latest in the series from Blizzard, where players can pony up real cash for in-game goods. (MARK DYE/REUTERS)

Game publisher Blizzard is trying a new business model with the latest version of its Diablo series. When the new game launches in the next few months, players will be able to purchase virtual goods through an auction house that accepts real money.

It’s not a radical idea, of course, to pay real money for virtual goods. Look no further than, say, Zynga, which lets players purchase packs of in-game currency to buy bigger plots of land and special items. In truth, by cutting out the fake currency, Blizzard is just formalizing a practice that gamers have already set up for themselves: gold-farming or sales of virtual goods in online worlds such as Second Life come to mind.

According to Blizzard, players can either purchase goods through the in-game currency auction house or the new auction house on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

“[We] wanted to create a convenient, powerful, and fully integrated tool to meet the demand of players who wished to purchase or sell items for real-world currency, and who would likely have turned to a less-secure third-party service for this convenience,” the company said in an overview of the new service.

Blizzard will accept real-world payments from a “registered form of payment” on its community. The publisher’s cut of the proceeds will vary by region, the company said.

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