Blizzard Killing The Diablo III Auction House

Reality has finally sunk in down in Anaheim I guess.  The in-game auction house, both gold and real money sides, will be shut down on March 18, 2014.

When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades. But as we’ve mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, it ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that we’ve decided to remove the gold and real-money auction house system from Diablo III.

We feel that this move along with the Loot 2.0 system being developed concurrently with Reaper of Souls™ will result in a much more rewarding game experience for our players.

We’re working out the details of how the auction house system will be shut down, but we wanted to share the news as soon as we made the decision in order to give everyone as much advance notice as possible. Please note that the shutdown will occur on March 18, 2014. We will keep everyone informed as we work through this process.

Josh Mosqueira and I wanted to provide everyone with a little more information behind this decision, so please have a look at the video, and stay tuned to this site for further updates in the months ahead.

I was a bit surprised at how long it took them to realize (or at least admit) that the auction house was taking over the game, something that some suggested might happen before the game even launched.

As it turns out, it is better to put up with a bit of this…

Diablo II Shop

Diablo II RMT

…than to kill off the key game play component of your game.

At least Blizzard has recognized the issue and is acting on it.  It is painful to come out and admit you have made a mistake.  While there is no release date for the Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, I doubt they pulled that March 18, 2014 date out of thin air.  At a minimum I suspect that the change will be part of the ramp up to the expansion.

Hopefully with a re-tune of the loot drops and an expansion on the way, Diablo III will be a better game and one more worthy of its lineage.

Now, is doing this almost two years after launch going to be enough?

14 thoughts on “Blizzard Killing The Diablo III Auction House

  1. C. T. Murphy

    I like to bandwagon hate on Blizzard, but I do hope Diablo III does recover some of its lineage. It is too depressing to see everything that once made PC gaming so great get chipped away, piece by piece, and dropped in a bucket of pure acidic greed.

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  2. Matt

    I didn’t mind it. The item problem came from item generation being random function on top of random function, meaning that it was nearly impossible to find even an above average piece of gear. Without the AH, the average player would be lucky to make it out of Hell. D2 had the same issue with blue/yellow gear, but solved this by having overpowered uniques with basically constant stats.

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  3. Polynices

    Pretty sad given that during the beta large numbers of people were predicting that the RMAH would cause exactly the problems it did.

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  4. gwjanimej

    Here’s the thing about the Auction House: Whether you love it or hate it, it was a solution to a very, very valid problem in D2. Trading there was full of hackery and bullshit. If you were a solo player, guess what? You dealt with a lot of the same shit loot issues that are in D3. It was in no way some magical place where all the loot you wanted dropped in a timely fashion, and D3 works much the same way.

    Ditching out the Auction House is just going to bring back all the bullshit associated with item trading in D2 for those who want to participate in that. And if you don’t, well, then why the hell do you care whether or not there’s an auction house available? Ignore it, and you’re in the same spot that you were in D2.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @gwjanimej – Well, I for one cared because the way items dropped back when I was playing was atrocious. I got nothing that wasn’t at least five levels under my current level, and 8-10 was more common, even in zones where I was clearly under level. It was as though they did the itemization to drive people to the AH. (I believe this to be the case, though have no concrete proof other than believing Blizzard isn’t staffed by complete morons.)

    And no, it was not the same in D2. I would get stuff that wasn’t all that useful and then some, but it was around my level or sometimes even above my level. I would get stuff that I could level in to. I saw that in my pre-D3 run through D2. Never saw that even once in D3.

    Frankly, I could have stood the AH thing if they had just fixed the itemization. But they didn’t. They stuck their heads in the sand for a year. And now they feel it is so broken that they are going to kill it.

    Yes, the D2 RMT stuff was around. That is why they went this route in the first place. I understand that. But that was something you did at your own risk and didn’t impact me if I wanted to stay out of it.

    But I also played local or LAN for 90% of my D2 play, which is another gripe for another day.

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  6. Matt

    No, it was much the same in D2. Hell Mephisto would drop 100 chain gloves with +2 stamina for every useful unique. Rares were nearly worthless without borderline lottery rolls. There were an incredible amount of garbage item affixes like the aforementioned +stamina. It was much worse before the expansion, which added lots of OP uniques. But because D2 didn’t base 100% of item quality on itemlevel (seriously, even ilvl 60 items are near worthless in Inferno), you didn’t have to farm the highest level areas in the game to get good items. You could get through all of Hell difficulty without getting a single Hell-level drop. In addition, D3 legendaries had stats which were nearly as random as rares. There were some improvements, but overall D3 itemization is a definite step backward.

    All this to say that the AH thing was mostly a sideshow, but when lack of useful drops drove people to the AH it became a useful scapegoat for the itemization problems.

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  7. JameslikesGames

    As you suggest, I think that the closing of the auction house will be set to coincide with the lauch of the expansion. That way all of us Blizz addicts will head back to D3 for the expansion and see if no auction and Loot 2.0 bring back that D2 feel.

    I’ll raise my hand and say that in my D2 days I did have that unofficial patch which made every monster drop amazing loot. It was kinda fun to kill a goatman and watch griswolds set poor our of him.

    Do you think they will have a player trade system similar to that in WoW?

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  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Yes, the re-itemized, post-AH D3 will be worth a return visit I hope.

    I am also tempted to download the demo of the PS3 version of D3. The reviews so far seem to paint a fairly decent picture of the game. I am not sure I would drop $60 on it, but I would like to get a taste of how they made it work.

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  9. Jenks

    Remember when everyone hated real money trading in games? I feel like I’m the only one who still feels that way. Remember the hatred for ‘ebayers,’ and ‘chinese gold farmers?’ Why did that go away when the companies themselves took on the role of selling gold/virtual items? Why is that different? I liked it when the scumbags were an easy to ignore underbelly of the game community. I’m not happy that the people designing and selling games are taking over the role of scumbag.

    I never bought D3, voted with my dollars and all that. My candidate may have lost, but the high horse I sit upon has never been higher.

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  10. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – For Blizzard, the illicit RMT thing has been something of an obsession. They hate it as much as you, if not more. It comes from their roots. When you make a balanced, competitive game like Warcraft or StarCraft, anything that is a cheat is deadly to the perception of fairness in the game. So they really get up in arms about it, to the point that they pretty much made a pact with the devil to take it over in the hope that if they controlled it, they could keep things from getting out of hand.

    That didn’t work out.

    Edward Castronova cheered that failure for another reason on top of what has been brought up elsewhere… potential tax implications. He is very much a virtual world guy as opposed to a game guy.

    I have always viewed people buying gold or what not as getting the punishment they deserve. If you get screwed, well, you were cheating now, weren’t you? If you get your illicit currency and you’re smart… you have a specific goal in mind, like that epic mount that used to cost so much… maybe life doesn’t change much. But if you just want to be rich, you spend you’re money, you’re back where you started from, you haven’t gained much and you’ve cheapened the game experience.

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  11. Jenks

    There is a huge difference between me and Blizzard, exactly as you state it. They hate illicit RMT. I hate RMT, period! I hate it because it destroys immersion and undermines achievement. They hate it because someone else is profiting off their game – undeniable now in 2013, seeing the direction the industry has gone. I don’t hold a special grudge against Blizzard for the RMAH – I feel the same about almost every game with a cash shop.

    Hyperbolic metaphor: If you think that heroin ruins people’s lives, you don’t start selling it yourself so that people have somewhere safe to buy heroin.

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  12. Knug

    @jenks, No, you don’t sell it, but you do offer clean injection sites, with available counseling and options to get off the stuff. Its harm reduction that focuses on limiting the damage, offering safe alternatives. BTW, many governments do not believe in harm reduction – they firmly believe that jail time is the only way.

    RMT sucks. However, the PLEX system from EVE is as close to complete harm reduction as you can get. It caps the illegal cash RMTers can make on their transactions, provides a safe, reliable way of getting your cash into the system without creating (in general) a pay-to-win system.

    Its not perfect. But so long as we allow human beings to play our MMOs we will have to deal with RMT. We are imperfect, thus the systems we put in place have to recognize that imperfection and limit its damage. To ignore it, or to ban without providing an alternative to the apparent need is simply bad game design.

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