Fin(ally): Blizzard Removing Diablo III’s Auction House

By Nathan Grayson on September 17th, 2013 at 10:16 pm.

Go back from whence you came, you vilest of all devils.

Oh gaming industry, you and your spin-straining, whiplash-inducing about-faces. Not even two weeks ago, Blizzard resolutely declared that Diablo III‘s much-loathed auction house was in for the long haul, gunking up a crystal clear loot stream with the suffocating tar of commerce. But now? Well, the frigid giant’s completed its glacial admission that maybe a systematized undermining of Diablo’s very core wasn’t the best idea. So, come early next year, it’ll be gone for good. Yes, for real. Oh joyous day.

Production director John Hight outlined the dev team’s plans in a post on Diablo III’s website:

“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.”

And so falls The Beast, with a shower of gleaming new loot mechanics raining down in its wake. Now, as with everything Blizzard does, this isn’t going to happen overnight. Today’s announcement comes in the name of advance notice, as the actual shutdown won’t occur until March 18th, 2014. I suppose it does take a bit of time to surgically slice away at your game’s whimpering heart and replace it with something entirely new, and I’m guessing that date signals a release of upcoming expansion Diablo III: Reaper of Souls not long after.

So there you go. Diablo III’s auction house will soon be a thing of the past. It’s a decision that took faaaaaar too long (especially given that everyone was saying this is what the AH would do to the game the second it was announced), but at least it finally happened. Now then, the all-important question: Is an offline mode on the horizon for Diablo III’s PC version? Soon there will be literally nothing stopping it. I’ve sent an electronic carrier pigeon over to Blizzard in hopes of finding out. Fingers crossed that we hear more soon.

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100 Comments »

  1. Optimaximal says:

    Activision clearly hoping such mea culpas would go un-noticed with all the fuss about GTA V. Of course, the PC market has been largely ignoring that one.

  2. stahlwerk says:

    Day after St. Patrick’s? Good luck, I guess.

    • Rich says:

      They’re hoping everyone will be too hungover to even look at a screen, let alone give their servers any real work to do.

  3. Premium User Badge thekeats1999 says:

    Well with this news I am tempted to get the expansion. BUT and this a big BUT only if you make this offline. Frankly I don’t care if you isolate my character from ever playing online. I shun human interaction whenever possible.

    So announce that you are going offline as well and I will be there day one. I would even consider one of those fancy super duper editions.

    PS controller support would be nice, but if I had to choose one, OFFLINE PLEASE

    • Viroso says:

      Yep. If they ditch always online, then I get Reaper of Souls. Sure D3 was fun but in hindsight I should not have supported it because of it’s crappy DRM. Back then I hadn’t learned to be as strict and would say things like “Oh but it’s the big D, I’ve been waiting so long for this I’ll open an exception”.

      • Triplanetary says:

        The things we do for a taste of that big D.

      • Caiman says:

        If they allow single player offline, I will finally buy the core game nevermind the expansion. Can’t play it otherwise, my dodgy internet connection proved that during the beta and a friend’s experience backed it up. Surely they have now hoovered up all the core players who bought it regardless, now to capture the remaining market.

    • Shuck says:

      I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll still be online, “because cheating.” (Nevermind that simply having separate character rosters for singleplayer and multiplayer games takes care of that problem…)

    • Richard Nixon says:

      “I shun human interaction whenever possible” says the man posting a thing on an internet website for other human people to read.

      • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

        You lot are humans? Way to spoil my dreams.

        • Premium User Badge JamesTheNumberless says:

          It’s ok, they’re only speaking from their own subjective realities.

  4. SominiTheCommenter says:

    Good. It gives times to the farmers to cash out.
    Blizzard didn’t want to scare their best costumers.

    • alw says:

      Yeah, can you imagine what we’d end up wearing if they did that??? :O

    • HadToLogin says:

      More like gives them time to reopen their ebay accounts and go back to not-safe D2-style trading.

  5. nullable says:

    This seems like a pretty bad deal. Trading is still a big part of the game, so I doubt killing the AH will mean an offline mode, and even then porting all the code that’s currently handled on the server (pretty much everything) to the client would (probably) be a very non-trivial amount of work.

    • Dominic White says:

      A non-trivial amount of work that they’ve already done – see the offline-friendly console versions of the game.

      • nullable says:

        I’d guess the console version is pretty different in the backend than the PC version, but only Blizzard knows for sure.

        • Apocalypse says:

          And many PC players would like to use that different backend, that is the entire point.

        • Shadram says:

          It shouldn’t be too difficult to port the logic from the XBox version to the PC. Alternatively, it should be even easier to move some of the existing server code for the PC version into the executables on the PC client. Unless the code is a complete clusterfuck, adding an offline mode to the PC version really shouldn’t be that difficult.

          • Premium User Badge FriendlyFire says:

            It’s probably more difficult than you’re implying (source code probably hundreds of thousands of lines long, not a mess? Ha!), but it’s also their own damn fault. They decided to do this.

          • Shadram says:

            Our company’s source code is around the million lines mark, but we can still add, change and move things easily enough to fulfil our monthly update cycle, and most of those changes aren’t trivial. We frequently move things between the client and server apps.
            I’d imagine Blizzard’s devs are at least as capable as ours. :)

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Well, it will become a very good deal if they change the loot drop system as they have promised to do – if you wanted to play without the auction houses with the current loot drop system you just have to accept that you will get stuck at many points in the game where you have to grind endlessly to get some semblance of gear to get you through the bottle neck. Apparently the new system solves this so yes always on sucks and will continue to suck but at least when you can play, the game should be more rewarding.

  6. Shadow says:

    Yes, they’re definitely running out of excuses to keep the always-on “feature”. I believe an offline mode is definitely a possibility in the future. Might take a year or more, but they’ll get there. If we’re lucky, though, it’ll take a bit less and be a thing by the time the expansion comes out.

    At any rate, it’s great to see the auction house go. The game had to make so many compromises to keep it functional it’s not funny.

  7. airmikee99 says:

    Still forcing me to stay online to play it on my PC while letting console players stay offline? I’m still passing on it, thanks.

  8. Premium User Badge daphne says:

    I must say, my faith in Blizzard is just about restored after this development. I say “just about” because there are some glaring issues with D3′s itemization that’s just fundamentally poor design (“primary stats” and weapons forming the basis of all damage) and so far Blizz has been unwilling to go that far with the loot reworking. But I will buy the expansion on day one anyhow, because I’m interested in starting again.

    That said, good of you to remind us of the recent “AH is going to stay” statement, Nathan. That’s indeed interesting.

    • Syra says:

      Weapons being the basis for damage was kinda ingenious imo, allowed for you to scale constantly through the game for all characters in the same way. Actually I think apart from the crippling DRM d3 was a positive step in gameplay in plenty of ways (don’t mention endgame!), particularly catering quite brilliantly to casual players.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I agree, it is a really interesting mechanic and it does work very well.

      • Sheepdog says:

        Agreed, scaling all your skills based on weapon damage meant every single skill/rune in your arsenal was always a valid option.
        In D2 if you spent any points in 90% of the skills you were doing it wrong as by the time you hit high levels they were useless.
        In D3 everything from the first skill to the last is usable at any level, giving you all kinds of builds to experiment with.

        • Steven Hutton says:

          That isn’t really true though. In fact most of the sill runes are considered to be pretty much useless and there are only considered to be maybe two or three workable builds for each class. At least among those players who’re taking D3 seriously enough to still be playing.

          Even in my own quick jaunt to 60 I was able to figure out that most of the skills weren’t really worth using. There’s typically one obviously best rune for each ability and that’s about it.

  9. rocketman71 says:

    A good first step, but Always Online still breaks it.

    Drop that shit, and maybe we’ll talk, Blizzard.

  10. Cogito says:

    I used to be a gaming journalist for a major outlet. When I was, I interviewed Blizz and this was my focus with the idea of getting them to admit it was activision’s influence (but of course while accepting I could be wrong). Now, more than ever, I am sure they were broadcasting fibs, but at the time it seemed reasonable.

  11. ViktorBerg says:

    It indicates one thing: they feel they’ve milked the cow long enough. I’d hazard a guess that the REAL reason that they’re shutting down is they estimate they’ll gain more money by selling extra copies of the game if they remove the AH, rather than keep it. There’s not many people left playing the damn game to begin with.

    • captain nemo says:

      this. still will not buy D3

    • bleeters says:

      That, or Hearthstone has settled nicely into the ‘money for nothing’ profit factory role instead.

      Or both.

      • X_kot says:

        I, too, suspect the profit predictions for Hearthstone are loosening the restraints elsewhere in Blizzard’s portfolio. Perhaps they’ve realized that they just needed to find the right genre to deploy their microtransaction machine:

        Gouge me in a sequel to a much-loved action-RPG? Fuck off, son!
        Gouge me in a digital-only CCG? Meh, sure…it’s to be expected, right?

    • ZeDestructor says:

      Whatever the reason, if it means a better game, I’m all for it!

  12. bar10dr says:

    Far to late, they milked its worth first I guess.

    If they wanted to do what’s right they would have listened to the thousands of players who voiced their opinion before launch.

    Blizzard is dead, long live Blizzard.

  13. Buemba says:

    Now that they want us to buy the expansion they decided to play nice, huh?

  14. derbefrier says:

    forget the AH and the DRM if D3 had more depth than a simple action game with light RPG mechanics I would jump back in but I don’t think that will ever happen as its part of its fundamental design. I will admit I had fun up untill I beat it on the hardest difficulty but there was absolutely no reason to keep playing after that. When its predecessor kept me playing for over a decade its just unforgivable.

  15. Suits says:

    I might actually pick it up next year then

  16. Bull0 says:

    Give us offline mode and unlock a difficulty other than “patronising” from the offset and we’ll talk. As it is, crippling input lag and the futility of knowing I needed to play through a couple of times to get to the challenging difficulties destroyed this for me.

    • Sheepdog says:

      Pretty sure you can ramp up monster power from the start now to get around patronizingly easy difficulties (while getting better loot at the same time).

      • Bull0 says:

        Oh, really? Awesome! I think the input-lag-deaths would only go up with higher difficulty though; offline mode still a necessity.

  17. Mr Coot says:

    Yer, no thanks. Not touching another Blizzard product after the fiasco of D3 and I say that as someone with the original D1, D2 and expac sitting on my shelf. After 10 yrs they present rubbish graphics and re-used WoW assets – and their solution to the mismatch of models and environment… blur the whole thing and call it… ‘oil-painterly’. The always online mode was unforgivable too.

    If D3 moved 12 mill units, they will be lucky to sell a million of the expac.

  18. Tei says:

    bliz giving console gamers offline mode and not ah shows that the intention whas to screw PC gamers as much as posible

  19. malkav11 says:

    Don’t really care about the auction house one way or the other but I hope this signals an offline mode on its way since safeguarding the integrity of the RMAH was about the only conceivable quasi-legitimate reason for the always-on requiremnt to begin with.

  20. GernauMorat says:

    Oh frabjous day

  21. rightyeauhuh says:

    Why was the AH such an issue in the first place? People can optionally buy weapons if they want, so what?

    • ZeDestructor says:

      The necessary infrastructure around it: The always-on DRM, the lack of offline mode/LAN mode (believe me, 500ms ping is bad!) and the ridiculously low drop rates necessary to make the AH worth it.

      • Xocrates says:

        Yes, it makes it feel as if the game was designed around the AH as opposed to it being an optional add-on.

        • RedWurm says:

          reinforced by the fact that, with a character of every class at level 60 and at the highest difficulty, I had about 5 legendary items – all a bit rubbish – no set items, and using the gold auction house was by far the easiest way to gear up my characters.

  22. nbringer says:

    Unbelievable! I’m speechless…
    “We told you so!” tastes so bitter now, Blizzard… so bitter that even such wonderful news will hardly bring a smile on our faces. Bring us that offline single player and perhaps one day we’ll forget this bad dream in which you feel into darkness and tried to drag us along with you…

  23. Freud says:

    The AH wasn’t the main problem. It was that loot quality was so low that it was hard to play with self-found items. Loot 2.0 is a bigger deal than removing AH for improving the game.

    But AH did create hyperinflation and a botting problem, so it’s good that they’re getting rid of it.

    • Vinraith says:

      The loot quality was so low it was hard to play with self found items, and you don’t think that was a deliberate design to drive the player to use the auction house?

      • HadToLogin says:

        That just shows Blizzard went greedy. Instead of AH being addon they made it main-game.

  24. Jimbot says:

    Now if they tweaked the drop rates to something good and brought back the fun of leveling up by allowing us to allocate our stats and invest in skills then they’d be on the right track. The game as it is takes the fun out of leveling up by automating the best part of it. No reward for all tedium of leveling up really kills your enthusiasm for performing said tedium. Plus, having no atmosphere and a crappy story can’t be easily fixed, though.

    Still, babysteps.

  25. lomaxgnome says:

    The fundamental problem was never the auction house. The auction house (in theory) provides a good service that people will now just seek elsewhere via the black market. The problem was the always-online requirement, and that buying all your items from the auction house was the best way to play the game. They could (and should) fix both of those problems and keep the auction house in tact.

    • Sheepdog says:

      The auction house basically forced the drops to generally be pretty bad, otherwise the auction house would be flooded with extremely good items.

      Of course the fact it’s essentially an unbounded economy made that the case anyway, but fixing loot drops would’ve only exacerbated the problem.

      Removing the trading of gold and real money from the auction house would possibly be a good option, it’d mean trades still take work, but unless you’ve found actual strong items yourself, you can’t just give a small amount of gold for the best possible gear you could have at early levels.

  26. Kaiji says:

    I’ll get a good laugh when everyone finally realizes that the thing stopping D3 from being great wasn’t the RMAH – it’s that the game itself is soulless and dull, developed by people with dollar signs in their eyes like most of the shite that gets spewed out and eaten up by the drooling masses these days.

    • Professor says:

      Yep! It has great production values for an action RPG… and that’s about it.

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      Are there games of this genre you don’t feel are dull/soulless? I feel like they can all feel hollow in the wrong mood, myself.

  27. MykulJaxin says:

    I just want to remind you all that having games with an offline mode is impossible because of DRM and stuff, so stop asking about it!

    • nbringer says:

      NO! The “DRM and stuff” that make the single player always online can and must be also removed.

  28. Shooop says:

    If the foundation’s collapsed, it doesn’t make much sense to remodel the kitchen…

  29. deathbyfacepalm says:

    And to that I say…
    Let it burn anyway.

    How easily the net forgets. :P I mean come on, they essentially took a bathroom break on a beloved franchise and milked it this way for how long? Only to finally turn it around probably because they realized it would help boost sales of the expansion because many MANY of us left D3 entirely due to the issues with the AH. Not to mention always online, of which there’s no mention.

    Is it good they’re finally removing it? Yes. But D3 still had tons of flaws that sucked the joy out of it. Grind out the game 3-4 times to get to the “real” game. Server down times. A garbage story (that you would have to watch 4 times, mind you). And many others.

    BUT, it doesn’t matter if they’re going to be super nice to try to get you back. Punish them. Let it burn. Show them that yeah, maybe we get suckered in to a bad deal because of good will towards a franchise or company, but we don’t forget when we get suckered. Not to be vile, but to make people think twice about doing it again. Let that thing rot in solitude, unplayed. Because then when (World of Starcraft, Warcraft 4, whatever) comes out maybe they’ll stop yanking us around. And that’s more important.

    Besides, if D3 is any indicator, even if they ditch the RMAH and always online it’ll still be a bland middle of the road title anyway. Go play Torchlight or something. Or load up an old copy of BG Dark Alliance.

    • Crowbar says:

      This * 1000!

      How can anyone seriously consider going back to D3 or giving this company money again after they made such horrible precedents?

      Personally, I’m never buying another Blizzard product again and I hope Bobby Kotick dies in fire.

  30. Facepalm says:

    PS – Enrage timers are lazy and any designer that uses them should be fired.

    • RedWurm says:

      Depends on the situation. In WoW – and, I’d imagine, most MMOs with the heal/tank/damage divisions – I feel they’re just an effective, if lazy, solution to shifting the burden of a fight onto the players doing damage, rather than constantly putting more pressure onto the healers or adding some kind of instant death mechanic.

      In a game without role divisions, I imagine it’s more a case of avoiding cheesier tactics or exploiting bugs to take down bosses with relatively little pressure. But usually, you’re basically right.

      • Facepalm says:

        No, it’s honestly a very pure reliable sign of a game designer that sucks and/or phoned it in.

        It’s essentially a time limit for no reason, but one that actually flies in the face of logic on most fights. Your enemy will, after having the tar kicked out of them, suddenly become super strong and wipe out an army solo rather than feeling that pain and wear? Because arbitrary gear walls.

        If you want to shift the burden to damage vs support there are other, better, less BS-ey ways to do it. And for it to be coming out of one of the biggest devs in the biz is inexcusable.

        Don’t just fire them. Banish them from development altogether please.

  31. Morcane says:

    lol who still cares about D3?

  32. Lobotomist says:

    Suddenly I feel bit less of “worst game purchase I ever made” guilt.

  33. GeminiathXL says:

    Wow. Look at all the trolls coming out from under their rocks when a Blizzard post is made.

    Removing the AH is a logical step, considering what Loot 2.0 is going to bring.

    But nevermind that: Let’s *once again* share our discontent with the “always-online” stuff, even though everyone has heard it a gazillion times already! Get over yourselves, people. D3 didn’t tank a bit. It’s still growing. But hey, that’s what good games do I suppose.

  34. kalirion says:

    Typed a longish post, and RPS ate it, so here’s the short version: What the hell is people’s problem with the optional RMAH that nobody is forcing you to use? Now getting rid of the moronic always online DRM would be a cause for celebration, but this? Just gets rid of an optional feature. Which is a bad thing, in my book.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Until recently, the best drops needed for higher difficulties were too rare, forcing players to use the auction house or grind endlessly. There also weren’t any money sinks in the game, causing ridiculous, massive inflation. This had interesting consequences: Players who didn’t play the AH extensively couldn’t afford the skyrocketing prices, while players who had amassed large sums were faced with their investments losing all value.

      It broke the game in all sorts of interesting ways, basically.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      Been stated like 10 times in this comments section. A large part of game design (in particular, the loot drops and the difficulty levels) were balanced around the existence of the RMAH, forcing you to buy items due to the frustration of extremely low drop rates.

      In my opinion, this is the same as a cash shop that lets you buy items to skip the grind in some F2P games.

    • Low Life says:

      It’s the same as “optional” boosters etc. in free-to-play games – the fact that they exist (and provide money for the developer) makes the developers balance the game for people who use them, and try to make players who don’t use them feel like they should.

  35. Arglebargle says:

    I don’t know what the special sauce that Blizzard puts in their games is; the one that gets everyone all frothing at the mouth. It sure doesn’t seem to work on me.

    And D3 had scads of issues even for the initiated.

  36. Low Life says:

    Now if only they gave us PC folks controller support so I wouldn’t need to sit at my desk clickety-clicking all day long.

  37. Premium User Badge c-Row says:

    Please allow me to be the first to say this.

    Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!

  38. Giuseppe says:

    Good news. Now make it offline and perhaps I’ll buy your game.

    (Because Blizzard will read this comment and go “boy, we’d better do as he says!”)

    • Premium User Badge JamesTheNumberless says:

      This could actually be a precursor to that, D3 is old news now and didn’t set the world on fire, maybe they’re looking towards how they can squeeze more money out of the long tail by appealing to D1/D2 fans who gave it a miss the first time around. If nothing else it does give hope to the argument for an offline version simply by demon-strating that they are actually paying attention to what people want or don’t want.

  39. Yosharian says:

    Really? This is fucking weird news.. what will happen to all the items everyone has? And the gold? This is a weird thing to do..

    Plus it makes no difference really, that ship has sailed

    • Low Life says:

      Why would anything happen to the items or gold people have?

      • Yosharian says:

        My point is that the AH has already affected everyone so, the damage is done so to speak…

        And my point about the gold is that it’s not going to be used for anything now? Well except blacksmithing or something I suppose

        • RedWurm says:

          I seem to recall they’re adding more crafting merchanty dudes, and I should imagine they’ll be expanding the old ones too, so they could make that a massive gold sink. I don’t recall if D3 had gambling, but in D2 that was the only real use for gold other than repair bills.

  40. racccoon says:

    Blizzard needs to remove itself altogether. D3 was way too long in the making, it was only made to create more wealth for blizzard because wow was relapsing into a void of self destruction through total boredom, no way they made D3 to give what the people had wanted for 10 + years, they never even listened to single thought.