Jay Wilson Talks About The Problems With Diablo 3′s Auction House

By now, it’s clear that Diablo 3 didn’t live up to the expectations of its fans, and its fans—especially the most vocal ones—insist that the game is either ‘dead’ or ‘dying’ simply because they no longer play it as often as they once used to.

This popular belief is contrary to the number of actual players on the game’s servers. According to Blizzard’s Jay Wilson, over a million players log onto the game every day. Jay Wilson, lead designer of Diablo 3, revealed the statistic at a Game Developers Conference panel titled “Shout at the Devil: The Making of Diablo 3″.

Wilson admitted that player over-reliance on the auction house is a major issue with the game, and that the company would turn off the auction house—if it were easy to do so.

According to Wilson, the problem with the auction house is that it became the end game. Instead of killing Diablo or trying their hand at challenges in the game, players were instead farming for gold and items to trade. The auction house “really hurt the game,” said Wilson, who admitted that it damaged item rewards.

Blizzard has found that over 50% of the game’s 3 million monthly playerbase uses the auction house, so they’re afraid that simply turning it off might create further backlash.

At this point in time, the team at Blizzard is working on various solutions, including item crafting and improvements to itemization, to deal with the auction house problem.

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8 Comments on Jay Wilson Talks About The Problems With Diablo 3′s Auction House

folklore

On March 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Right now the auction house is pretty much the only thing keeping me from buying diablo 3. I really liked diablo 2, and diablo 3 looks pretty good. I hope they get rid of the auction house. That would be great.

pathalogical

On March 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Oh really? the pay to win (aka the auction house) aspect ruined the play to win aspect of the game, no way.

gasmaskangel

On March 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I am not a professional game designer, nor am I particularly smart or insightful, so why exactly was I able to predict that the real money auction house was a terrible idea long before blizzard was?

anathemize

On March 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm

He didn’t say the real money auction house. He just said auction house in general because there was a normal one as well. The real money one was no worse than the regular auction house. If they didnt have the real money one but had the normal one people would just go to third party sites and sell it for money that way.

pooleboy87

On March 31, 2013 at 12:45 am

No ? So you’re telling me that an ARPG suffered from being able to aquire loot primarily through a third party for real world currency? Who’d've ever thunk-it that allowing a player to circumvent the actual game to aquire some of the best gear IN the game would have an adverse effect on their desire to play said game and get items? Who’d've believe that avoiding difficult challenges by flopping your wallet on the table would wind up having a negative effect on a genre that’s supposed to be challenging yet rewarding?

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.

Who wants to bet how man of those 3 million monthly users (of which 1 million log in daily) are nothing more than farmers and bots? Because LITERALLY nobody I know logs into that daily. Oh, for a while, I saw quite a few people light up that red III on my battle.net. But for the last several months? Not one person (including myself).

I hope they take this as a lesson. DON’T. MONETIZE. THE FUN STUFF.

Axetwin

On March 31, 2013 at 2:48 am

Lets all take off the hater glasses and look at this objectively.

Half the rooms created for the online portion of Diablo 1 and 2 were players looking to trade. They were trading post rooms. So the addition of the gold auction house in Diablo 3 should not have come as a surprise to players. It was Blizzards way of giving players they obviously wanted. An easier way to trade with players that doesnt involve sitting in a game room for up to several hours.

It started with Diablo 1 but it really exploded in 2 so much so, that the guy who ran it is now a millionaire. Im of course referring to the black market of real money transactions. The guy made over a million bucks by selling items off at 10 cents to a dollar at a time. Think about that for a second. The motivation behind the RMAH was twofold. 1. it was a way to combat an illegal third party service that was making serious cash off a product they didnt own. 2. A third party program was making serious cash in a way Blizzard hadnt thought of and they wanted a piece of that. Im going to stop you right there and say, simply wanting to make money for your company doesnt inherently make you evil, it simply makes you a business. Adding these auction houses to the game was good business.

What we have here is two sides of the same coin, with players clamoring for both sides. Now before you say “but Axetwin, I never asked for a RMAH!” Ok, you specifically might not have asked for it, but your fellow gamers did.

“But Axetwin Ive been on Diablo forums and have seen every post ever posted on them all, not one of them asked for a RMAH”.

There’s a little thing called market research. When a guy becomes a millionaire by selling off items at 10 cent to a dollar at a time, the research says that there is a market here to be tapped. Once again, we have a case of the blame falling squarely on the playerbase for the existence of a feature they dont like.

However, the problem isnt simply the existence of the auction houses. Its what Blizzard did with them that made their existence hurt the game. You see when Blizzard was creating the drop table for their items, they coded it in a way that “encouraged” players to use the auction houses.

“AH HA, see? Even you admit they were coming up with ways to force players to use the RMAH!1″

Not exactly, I said auction houses, as in plural. There was no devious secret way to force players into using one auction house over the other. They simply coded the drop tables in a way that made players feel like they NEEDED to resort to one of the auction houses to make any gear progress. However there was no preferential AH treatment simply because there is no way to control that.

Here’s the thing though, the problem with Diablo 3 has more to do with the auction houses. No, its not “the problem is it exists” either. You want to get a chunk of players off your back Blizzard? Give them n offline singleplayer mode AND the ability to mod it. The only reason D2 had such a long shelf life is because players were able to create some very good mods for an otherwise lacking game. Without the modding community, Diablo 2 wouldnt have been ANYWHERE near as popular as it is now.

In the end, I think Blizzard is starting to recognize their missteps and am in the process of (hopefully) fixing them. I think players will be in for a massive disappointment if they ever expect Diablo 3 to ever reach a point to where its closer to Diablo 2.5. However, Ill leave you some food for thought. Diablo 3 is as different from Diablo 2 as Diablo 2 was from Diablo 1.

folklore

On March 31, 2013 at 8:25 am

@Axetwin
Excellent points.
For me it wasn’t the auction houses themselves (though i don’t like them) that made me choose not to buy it. It was how they were implemented. If they got rid of the constant connection requirement, as well as the drop table focused on encouraging their use I’d probably buy it. Heck fixing the drop table would probably help.

Though the current situation really does show the p2win system and the problems that are in it.

kk

On April 1, 2013 at 6:21 am

They nerfed drop rates so people can’t kill Diablo in hard mode without the RMAH. Blizzard screwed with the game mechanics, and NOW they blame the consumer? Really? They still don’t understand the fact that they simply made a bad game. I played D2 for days. D3 was boring within hours. Even the beginning of the game was bad bad bad.