Developer acknowledges that it “ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot”
By way of background, Diablo, as a series, has always been about killing monsters to get weapons and armor, which lets you kill bigger monsters that hold better items. In a world of loot, this series is one of the original and one of the best. The focus on loot bred extensive player trading economies in both Diablo 1 and 2, as well as black markets. With Diablo 3, Blizzard wanted to bring the entire player economy under its own roof, and find a way to make money off of it. Enter the real money auction house, where players could trade their goods for in-game currency or real currency, with Blizzard taking a cut of any real-money transactions. Suffice it to say, there were some potential problems.
For one thing, this meant that any potential hack or exploit where players could get more or better loot than they were supposed to became a potential moneymaker, as well as potentially criminal. Early on, the company had to shut down the auction house based on a gold-duplication exploit. There were also players whose accounts got hacked into and their gold stolen. Blizzard struggled to make this concept work, but as this recent decision proves, it just wasn’t feasible.
So this early effort to monetize player economies is fizzling out, but trust me, it won’t be the last. There’s no MMO in existence that hasn’t bred some kind of black market to go along with it, and everyone making these games recognizes the potential revenue stream there, especially as the concept of subscription MMOs is continually called into question. Less easily manipulated console games might be better suited for leading the way, but once one game cracks others are sure to follow.
The idea of a real-money auction house in a Diablo game has been a controversial and divisive point for many gamers since it was first announced. While Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime first defended the idea, noting that it was being included “to provide convenience and peace of mind for those players who might otherwise turn to third-party services to buy items,” the studio has now backtracked, saying it undermines Diablo III’s gameplay.
In a post on the official Battle.net website, Blizzard has officially announced its decision to remove the gold and real-money auction house system entirely. The auction house system, which saw multiple delays before finally being implemented last June, will 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,” said Blizzard’s John Hight.
“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.”