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.