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Diablo III's auction houses "hurt the game," ex-director says

Diablo III's auction houses "really hurt the game," former game director Jay Wilson said at a GDC talk in San Francisco attended by Joystiq. The gold-based market and real-money auction house were meant to combat external trading services and interest a small subset, but they ended up spoiling the campaign.

Wilson said Blizzard thought only a small percentage of players would use the online markets. But once the game went live, it found nearly all players auctioned, and half of them did so regularly.

The auction houses impacted all levels of play profoundly; money became a greater motivator than killing Diablo, and item rewards became meaningless when players found they could easily buy gear superior to that which they looted--with cash or, more commonly, with their extra gold.

"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson said, but it's unfortunately "not as easy as that." Blizzard isn't willing to just shut off a system which many players might still enjoy. Wilson said the team is working on more viable options, but did not elaborate.

The PlayStation 3 version of Diablo III has no auction houses to begin with.

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5 comments

  • Pruman - March 29, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    The main issue is that it feels like the game was designed to support the auction house, and not the other way around. Almost all of the fun of these games comes from steadily improving your character and gear, and occasionally lucking out with a world-beating drop. Since there is no statistical difference at a given level between one character or another, and the skill combinations are fixed, they've effectively removed character development as a motivation. Also, I find that it's exceedingly rare to get a drop that I can actually use, and since items better than what you have can always be found at the AH at rock-bottom prices, you essentially short-circuit the entire gear improvement process. Since the game's story really isn't up to the level of the other ones, there's really no reason to keep playing other than enjoyment of the mechanics.
  • CaptainMorgan - March 29, 2013 4:39 a.m.

    Auction Houses were one reason, the other was to put it bluntly, because the game was utter shite in comparison to Diablo 2. No customisation entire character based around weapon dps, no allocatable stats inability to warp between acts to defeat bosses/mobs at will, random stats on items even named ones making them useful to all of nobody, every time you played you played through the game story(which was not consistent with established lore im sorry but tyreal IS that set of wings they are not part of his equipment). Diablo looked like he had developed annorexia, Oh Jay Wilson how could you even attempt to defend this train wreck of a game, now please fade into obscurity without taking your 'talents' to other beloved games franchises.
  • ChiChiRocket - March 28, 2013 11:25 p.m.

    The real-money auction house is the main reason why I still haven't picked up the game. As long as that's still a thing, Blizzard won't be getting any more money from me.

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