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Diablo 3's Auction House closure finally has us excited for its expansion

No matter how you hack or slash it, Diablo 3 is a great game. Its slick graphical style and foreboding atmosphere might've been offset by a lackluster plot, but none will deny how addictive and satisfying the classic Diablo gameplay can be. Unfortunately, all that content was undermined by the inclusion of a single feature: the Auction House. This player-run economy was supposed to replace the mercurial bartering system that players adopted in Diablo 2. Gold would have actual value now, and items could be purchased with real money. It sounded like a utopia for profiteering gamers. And it failed miserably. That's why today's announcement that Blizzard is axing the Auction House should be applauded by action RPG fans 'round the world.

Fans felt cheated by the Auction House, and for good reason--it took the focus away from the actual act of attaining loot, something Blizzard explicitly stated in its capitulation. One of the primary motivators in the Diablo franchise is the acquisition of sweet, sweet loot: rare gear drops that could ostensibly turn your hero into a monster-slaying powerhouse, or be traded away for the items you're looking for. The Auction House let gamers buy power with money--a loathsome trade, even if the majority of that money was going to other players' pockets. The effort to make gold valuable again backfired completely, because gold farmers and plentiful bot usage made the value of the in-game currency deflate at an alarming rate. Its inclusion felt like a design move fueled purely by greed.

The Auction House was enough to turn some gamers off entirely, cheapening the game they had been anticipating for years. Instead of being able to identify skilled or dedicated players by their tricked-out gear, anyone could buy their way to the winner's circle. And even if you did acquire a piece of impressive loot--whether you earned it with effort or charged it to your credit card--there was always the creeping dread that you would find something better within minutes, effectively rendering your new treasure useless. The satisfying feedback loop of effort-and-reward had been thrown out of whack, and what had once felt addictive now seemed like nothing more than a grind. Hardcore players and casual demon-slayers alike felt completely disillusioned, bewildered by all the damage the Auction House had done to Diablo 3's overall enjoyment.

This disaster wasn't unforeseen. In the months leading up to Diablo 3's release, Blizzard stood their ground while forum-goers and dedicated fans cried foul of the repercussions of an Auction House. During the early days of launch, players were already starting to notice how rapidly gold was becoming worthless (when Error 37 wasn't locking them out). For months after, Blizzard tried to assuage the tumultuous prices of the Auction House by installing gold floors--and even those dismal prices were undercut by gold-buying sites with frightening speed.

Then, a revelation: News that the console port of Diablo 3 would be playable offline, and would abolish the Auction House entirely. Suddenly, PC gamers had reason to take note of their console brethren, wondering aloud to themselves: Would console gamers be getting the better end of the deal? The lack of an Auction House might've been a detriment for players that wanted a fast track to godlike power. But for many, it was a callback to the loot ecosystem they knew and loved: finding loot and trading it with friends, or striving to collect that one elusive item. If you didn't have the gear you needed, all you could do was go out there and get it.

When Blizzard announced Diablo 3's expansion, Reaper of Souls, any moments of excitement were tempered by wince-worthy memories of the Auction House. Many had abandoned Diablo 3 altogether; despite the lack of any subscription fees, they felt zero desire to continue playing. Those who were still invested in the Auction House had to wonder what kind of chaos their market would be thrown into once people flocked back to the game, which could likely bankrupt all the in-game gold hoarders.

Things went quiet for a bit--then, today, without warning, Blizzard announced plans to shut down the gold and real-money Auction Houses in March 2014. In a moment of humility, they admitted the faults of their existing model, vowing to fix it before the revitalization that is Reaper of Souls. Diablo fans, that feeling you're feeling right now is glee. No more Auction House quite possibly means a return to the communal trading of old, just like the days (and nights) you spent transfixed to Diablo 2. Vilified Diablo 3 game director Jay Wilson is a thing of the past; in his place are people like Josh Mosqueira, who acknowledge that "the right decision is to preserve the integrity of the gameplay experience of Diablo."

Only gold farmers will mourn when the Auction House crumbles, as they'll no longer have a virtual market to exploit. Those who haven't played Diablo 3 in months will be completely unaffected--their gold and items are likely worthless now anyway. And for profiteers who managed to eke out a few bucks from item sales, well, they can go stuff themselves.

So yes--if you've ever loved a Diablo game in your life, this is fantastic news. Even if it took Blizzard well over a year to admit their failures, Reaper of Souls will be a clean slate, infusing life into a dying game. Just as Lord of Destruction revitalized Diablo 2, Reaper of Souls could make Diablo 3 feel new--and appealing--all over again, and the banishment of the Auction House makes it easier to forgive the old wounds. To gold farmers: You will not be missed. To everyone else: You can now look forward to Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls.

16 comments

  • sschrupp - November 19, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    This kind of sucks for people that don't enjoy trading. Some people like to play the game and like a simple way to get better items. The Auction House allowed for that. I don't have to study the market currently. I can blissfully play the game and if I feel like it do a quick search in the Auction House to buy a couple items and then get back to playing the game. Without the Auction House I guess I'll just be playing in "found only" mode. It's not the end of the world for me, but I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world that gets no joy at all from playing markets, tracking going values for items, trying to barter with other people, etc. Oh well..
  • Anakronox - September 21, 2013 1:50 a.m.

    What will become of the gold players currently have I wonder? How royally screwed will those of us who stuck with this game feel if it is all rendered worthless (as you say) or wiped. The AH had to go - I agree - but what about the gold we made from countless hours of farming?
  • larkan - September 17, 2013 11:21 p.m.

    While it is good, it was a greedy fucking move by Blizzard. Think about it, they announce this news now, how long have they been sitting on it? I myself bought the PS3 version, and it is better than the PC version by far. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that A LOT of the PC crowd for this game did the same. So now, according to them, we'll have two identical versions of the same game. So we either buy the expansion for both, or neither, or choose one. Either way, Blizzard sat on this info for awhile to ensure healthier console sales, that is something I'm sure of. I think at this point, I'm not buying the expansion at all. They said Loot 2.0 was going to be free, and I'm ok with that, as it should have been that way since the beginning, and they obviously knew how to fix it long before the console release. I'm washing my hands of Blizzard from here on out. I made the first step when I didn't buy SC2, I've been done with WoW for a long time, and now the final nail in the coffin is this.
  • Effinae - September 18, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    How is the console version far better than the PC version? It's the same game with a controller and no AH right? To summarize your post I'm reading that Blizzard released the console version of the game with no AH knowing full well that a bunch of the PC population would buy a second copy of the game just because an optional feature was removed. Even though everyone already knew that Loot 2.0 and the expansion were on the way. Those sneaky bastards! Maybe if you hadn't been so angry and ready to stick it to Blizzard and their greedy AH you wouldn't have rushed out to buy a second copy of a game you already own.
  • Effinae - September 17, 2013 6:51 p.m.

    I'm actually not happy with this at all. The biggest complaint about the AH for most people was that it took away from the point of killing monsters to get loot (and Blizzard agreed). But unless you bought millions of gold from the RMAH a new level 60 would not have enough money to buy even a single piece of great armor. You could, however spend 100-200k and get yourself something decent to jump into Inferno with. The other way I used the auction house was getting a nice weapon for my alts here and there throughout the levels to make getting to 60 a little less painless. Doing it this way, the AH in no way ruined the experience for me. I don't mind the RMAH being removed though, as I didn't use it. But it seems most of the people complaining about the AHs couldn't just NOT use them and enjoy the game.
  • GR_LucasSullivan - September 17, 2013 8:51 p.m.

    Yeah, I hear you. The concept of doing stuff like budget builds appealed to me back in the day, but I think with the item price inflation, that kind of thing just can't be done anymore. As for those crabby players, they were definitely their own worst enemies, but even KNOWING that the AH was there sort of loomed over every loot drop, at least for me personally.
  • avantguardian - September 17, 2013 8:56 p.m.

    i think the main issue people had was how the AH affected the drops in the game. it gave you more stuff, but less quality. this also could have ended up breaking the economy for those who would have preferred to avoid the AH altogether. i know it kept me personally from playing it (and i suppose the online bs), and it ruined the enjoyment to some extent for everyone i know who played it. diablo 1 and 2 worked perfectly well without it, and the near universal praise for the adjustments made to the console version seems to be reinforcing the notion that loot-based games would just be better off without this type of thing. please don't think i'm trying to say that you can't like it though! to each their own. :)
  • reddeaddigestion - September 17, 2013 10:32 p.m.

    Effinae, I see what you mean, and I agree that the AH did not appear to negatively affect your gameplay experience. But it did. Allow me to explain: By existing, the Auction House created a game environment in which you NEEDED to purchase a weapon here or there in order to have a more "painless" trek to level 60. The Auction House created an environment in which you NEEDED to sink some gold for a weapon to tackle Inferno. The Auction House did this by solely existing because Blizzard tuned down drop rates on ALL desirable items in game, knowing that players would trade them through the auction house. Blizzard would tune down drop rates because items dropping is now just one of two ways to obtain gear -- the other being the Auction House. You might now argue that "you did not mind using your gold in the AH." The truth: It doesn't matter how you felt. Due to the utility of your time spent, all other things considered, you would have had more fun and more EFFICIENT fun if all that cool gear you bought in the Auction House had just dropped on the ground in front of your character from a boss. The wasted time, wasted gold, and additional needless complication BY DEFINITION equates to a very negative impact on your game experience and the game experience of all players. And there is no justifiable benefit to anyone involved in the system. I hope you take this in the most objective light possible, Effinae: Learn to think objectively, you Lemming.
  • Effinae - September 17, 2013 10:50 p.m.

    "Needed to" replace with "Option to" Claiming Blizzard tuned down droprates on purpose so people would use the AH is tinfoil hatting. Arguing how much more or fun I would or wouldn't have had isn't really something you can argue since you are not me. It's not wasted gold if it would otherwise just sit there having no use at all. The justifiable benefits I explained in my original post. I would also add that the AH gave me a way to benefit from a really great item that I didn't have use for on any of my characters. But you are correct about one thing. I did not jump on the it's cool to hate everything Diablo 3 bandwagon, and therefore, I am a Lemming.
  • larkan - September 17, 2013 11:25 p.m.

    There is no tinfoil hatting with that statement, Blizzard knew what they were doing, and given all the bullshit we've seen from them in the past with this game, you're telling me you don't see them tuning down drop rates to encourage people to spend money? I'll tell you this, in my 20 hours with the console version, I've gotten nearly 100 legendaries, all useful, all for the class I was playing at the time. On PC, I've gotten 4 legendaries in 200 hours, on monster power 5 or above. The 100 I got on console was on Medium. So tell me again that they didn't have the drop rates fucked up on PC, and I'll make you a tinfoil goose.
  • Effinae - September 18, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    Maybe tinfoil hatting was a bit extreme, but unless there is some kind of proof or Blizzard comes out and says, " ya we purposely lowered drops to make ppl use the AH to make us more money", its pure speculation. Now, what if they just took out the RMAH but left the gold AH in, which is what I am arguing for in the first place? Blizzard wouldn't be making any extra cash then right? A useful for your class Legendary is not the same as a great Legendary. There are some stats that are base on unique items but the extra stats can very greatly in type and amount. Just having life steal as a bonus stat over pretty much any other stat makes a HUGE difference in the quality of the item. As far as your drop claims I didn't have near that low of a drop rate even for Legendaries. In a full multiplayer game I was in with friends recently playing at 8MP we had 3 legendaries drop in a single chapter.
  • avantguardian - September 18, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    There was an interview concerning the console version where the dev freely admitted to changing the drop rates. I read it in a magazine, but it should be easy enough to google. Or, you can keep your fingers in your ears. You think they'd go to all the trouble of creating the AH and not attempt to funnel you into it? Dillusional.
  • avantguardian - September 18, 2013 12:47 p.m.

    And yes, I do realize I spelled that wrong. ;)
  • Effinae - September 18, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    So a dev said the console versions had increased droprates. Great! As I've said I'm currently not having any problems whatsoever with drop rates in the PC version. The original release; sure. But since they've added the Paragon system, monster power, and loot drop buffs for multiplayer it has been great. Everything should improve further with the expanded loot system coming up too. As far as them funneling me into the AH...I haven't spent a dime.
  • robotic-fiend - September 17, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    Best news of the day.
  • Swedish_Chef - September 17, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    Good riddance.

Showing 1-16 of 16 comments

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