Tag Archives: auction house

Diablo III Auction House, Going Once, Going Twice…

Gone.

Today’s Diablo III patch is set to pull the auction house out of the game.  There is, of course, a FAQ for this.

Look out

Look out

Some are building this up as a really big deal.  And maybe it is.

The combination of the auction house and the questionable itemization of the game led to a situation where the auction house got out of hand, much to Blizzard’s surprise.  Or so they claim.  It seemed to me that the itemization was going to drive people to the auction house almost immediately after launch.  Others were saying it in beta.  But we all came with the outsider’s point of view, and I have been in enough organizations where the prism of focus has distorted our view of the world as to be unable to see the oncoming train.

And the quote in that link above points to what Blizzard’s goal, which was to control/eliminate third party sales of game items and currency.

Diablo II Shop

Maybe the last time I use this graphic

People who use “Legit” in their site names are clearly evil. *cough*

And a noble goal that was, given that such third parties often end up causing problems for the game.  It even appeared to work.  Pity about the hyper-inflation.  When your game is compared to Weimar Germany, it is never a good thing.  That wasn’t helped by a bug that let people create gold out of thin air.

So, after much consideration, Blizzard came up with a plan.  As part of their shipping Diablo III for consoles, they redid the itemization and did not include an auction house.   When that seemed to go well, they moved to roll those changes into the PC version of the game as part of their ramp up to the Reaper of Souls expansion.

At the end of February we got Diablo III version 2.0, which included a number of changes.

Splash Screen of 2.0 Features

2.0 Features

Itemization… or Loot 2.0…  was clearly the most important, and it looks good so far.  I have not been back to the auction house… nor have I felt any need to go there… since we got this.  I am also pleased with the change in difficulty levels.  Being able to go straight to Hard mode was good.

Today we say farewell to the auction house.  Whether you loved it or hated it, it is now in the past.

And in a week we get the Reaper of Souls expansion.  Sales figures on that will be the test for these changes.  When you just sell the box… and Diablo III sold very well… and are not worried about subscriptions of cash shop sales, your work is pretty much done.  You want to support the game, but as sales taper off, there is little financial motive to make big changes.  Unless, of course, you want to sell an expansion.

People have been coming back to Diablo III to check out the 2.0 changes.  And things have looked pretty good.  But sales of the Reaper of Souls expansion will be the referendum on the whole thing.  Diablo III sold 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours (a number which I am guessing counts the million World of Warcraft subscribers who got the game for “free” by committing to a year long subscription) and 12 million copies in the first year. (Which also points out how important the PC platform is to this game.  XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions came out well after the 12 million mark, and the last quarterly report pegged Diablo III sales as reaching 15 million units.)

So this will be something of a referendum on the game and its changes.  If Blizzard cannot move a couple million copies next week… if they don’t have a press release out about sales… that won’t be a good thing.

I am still torn on the expansion.  I was leaning towards getting it, thinking that at my rate of progress I would be ready to jump right into a brand new Act V at about the time it went live.  And then my Diablo III play time got interrupted with one of those “always online” issues again.

Latency - Smaller is Better

Latency – Smaller is Better

Other online games were fine, including WoW.  But Diablo III was unplayable.  So I went and played WoW.

Now I am about a third of the way through Act III.  I could still catch up and be done and ready for Act V if I pressed hard, but that strays into making the game work, and I like to explore every corner of the map as I play.  So I will likely hold off on the expansion until I am ready for the content.  And I probably won’t be there next week.

In the mean time, according to the shut down FAQ, you have until June 24th to claim or clear out anything you have sitting in the auction house.  And it will remain a legend and cautionary tale, as well as proof once again that economic efficiency can transcend fantasy.  Or as Edward Castronova put it:

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

We are what we are.

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?

Blizzard Blindsided by Diablo III Auction House Popularity

While the auction houses reduced the fraud and effectively killed grey-market transactions between players and item- and gold-farming companies that hurt the online Diablo II community, Blizzard did not expect players to use them on the scale that they started to as soon as the game launched. Almost every player uses one or the other, according to Wilson, and nearly half use them regularly.

GameInformer article on Jay Wilson’s GDC 2013 Presentation

Two comments on this.

The first is, of course, that this revelation is months too late.  We were bitching about this sort of thing last fall. (Read my comment on that post.)  Hell, I brought it up in June of last year.

The second is, what do you mean you did not expect it?  Have you guys actually played the game?

The itemization that I experienced was such that nearly every single equipment drop I got was not only many levels below being useful for my character, but also many levels below the monsters dropping it.  Unlike Diablo and Diablo II, where gear you had to grow into was relatively common, I never got a drop like that in Diablo III.

Okay, there was crafting too...

Crafting wasn’t much better…

So I went right to the auction house to sell the useless lower level gear in order to buy gear closer to my level.  And I assumed that this was all part of the master plan to make people use the auction house.  I got that sense almost right away that low level drops were all part of the scheme to prime the AH pump.  He says right there that nearly every player uses the auction house at some point.  The strategy totally worked!

Now they are saying that it wasn’t intentional?

I cannot tell if I should be skeptical or flabbergasted.

In the article, he said they are working on a plan to fix the auction house problem.

Diablo II Shop

While avoiding this again I guess…

This I gotta see.

[Related: Green Armadillo and Player Motivation]

A Call for a Unified Auction House

With a couple of characters at level 80 I have been playing more with the copious alts I have on both sides of the Horde-Alliance divide.  Most of these characters are down in the 20-40 range.

Like many servers, the ones on which I play tend to have a population skewed in one direction or another.  The Census data over at Warcraft Realms seems to be a bit wacky these days due to low participation (for example, I don’t think Eldre’Thalas is at a close to 80-20 split between Alliance and Horde), but population differentials of 60-40 to 70-30 were quite common back when that census project was getting a lot of participation.

The main pain of unbalanced servers used to be the queue to get into a battleground.  There was a time when you could spend hours waiting for a battleground on a server that was really out of whack.

Blizzard has addressed that with cross-server battlegrounds.

For me, now, the main pain of server imbalance is the auction house.  If you’re on a server’s weaker faction, the auction house can be really bad.

Unless you are trying to sell something, especially raw materials for trade skills.  Then it can be the goose that laid the golden egg, as with no competition you can gouge your fellow players something fierce.  And somebody will always pay, no matter how much you charge.

But if you want to buy something, if you need some herbs to make just one more vial or ink or some ore to notch that engineering skill, then life is miserable.  There are days when you feel fortunate that somebody is even bothering to try to gouge you, because the most likely response to your search is no items found.

And this is especially painful if you play a class that gains a new armor wearing ability at level 40.  You want to trade in all that leather and buy some chainmail for your hunter or your shaman?  Good luck on that!

Try back tomorrow, I might have something then!

Try back tomorrow, I might have something then!

So I think Blizzard ought to just bite the bullet and unify all the auction houses.

I’m not even suggesting something that might be considered herasy.  This isn’t like, say, allowing people to change the faction of their characters. (Not that I am actually concerned about that in the least, but it seemed like a sell-out to some people.)

There are already cross-faction auction houses in the neutral cities of Azeroth: Booty Bay, Gadgetzen, and Everlook.

The problem is that almost nobody uses them, except to transfer assets from one faction to another. (You need a friend to help you out, since you cannot bid on auctions created on the same account.)

So I say combine the whole lot of them into a single, unified server-wide auction house.

The upside:

  • More choice for buyers
  • More customers for sellers
  • Auction houses in neutral cities might seem viable

The downside:

  • Can’t think of any

I am sure that somebody will come up with a reason why this is a bad idea, but none leap to mind here.

So why is this a bad idea?

Spending All My Gold

Unlike EVE Online, where I keep a close eye on finances, I tend to not think too much about currency in World of Warcraft.

Every so often I go on an auction house binge.  I get Auctioneer installed and running, then go looking for stuff to sell.  But that does not happen very often.

So I was a bit surprised to notice my gold count running past 3,000 pieces a couple of weeks back.  It turns out that running all those daily quests for the Kalu’ak, as well as the Dalaran and Shattrath cooking and fishing daily quests, started adding up.

And then the Dalaran fishing daily paid off big with a gem that sold at the auction house for 800 gold.  (I considered keeping it, but I have no socketed gear at all right now.)

That put me within striking distance of something I never thought I would have: The epic flying mount.  It was time for another auction house binge.

Vikund, my main, is an engineer, which is not a particularly lucrative profession. (You can make a bunch of stuff other people have problems using.  How like real life!)  But he does have the mining skill to go along with it, so I started going out of my way to mine.  Outland ore, fel iron and adamantite, were especially good to me.  Nagrand has ended up being the best zone for me to mine in, being rather sparsely populated most of the time.

Last week I got close enough that I sent a couple hundred gold from another character and took the plunge.

RightStuffAch
That is the achievement you get for spending 5,000 gold on the artisan riding skill.  Then just another 200 gold for the actual epic flying mount and I was… broke.

GoldLeft
It has been a long time since I had only that much gold.  In fact, I had to dig some soulbound stuff out of the bank to sell to a vendor to be able to finance ongoing auction house work.  But it was worth it.

The epic flying mounts boost your ground speed by 100%, the same as the level 60 epic riding mounts, and in the air it acceleates you by 280%.  Add in the extra 20% speed boost Vikund gets from his paladin Crusader Aura and you have a pretty fast ride indeed.

I suppose, being an engineer, I should have gone for the Turbo-Charged Flying Machine, but I was selling all my raws to pay for the artisan riding skill.  So, instead, I went for the Swift Blue Gryphon.

High Speed Paladin

High Speed Paladin

If the flying mount gave a feeling of freedom in the game, then the epic version multiplies it.  The gryphon seems to be about as fast as the ones used to go between the various flight points in the game.  I have not tried racing one from point to point, but I have followed a couple of people in flight and have been able to keep them in sight.

Now I have to carry on with my auction house binge though.  Vikund is closing in on level 77 at which point he will be able to get the Cold Weather Flying skill which will allow him to fly around Northrend.

Fortunately, the boosted flying speed makes harvesting ore in the Outlands just that much quicker.