Diablo 3 Director Admits Auction Houses ‘Really Hurt’ Game

Diablo 3's former director Jay Wilson apparently admitted the game's auction houses -- both the real-money and traditional in-game mechanisms -- "really hurt the game."

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Blizzard Entertainment

Joystiq passes along some interesting info emerging from GDC 2013, the game developers conference currently transpiring in San Francisco: Diablo 3‘s former director Jay Wilson apparently admitted the game’s auction houses — both the real-money and traditional in-game mechanisms — “really hurt the game.”

That’s a bold mea culpa from one of the most successful game companies in video game history. I had no idea things were rough enough to warrant that sort of language. I fiddled with the in-game gold auction house for a bit myself before the game lost its allure, but never spent a dime — never would spend a dime — on the real money auction house, which is basically Blizzard’s way of controlling the secondary item market and taking a cut in transaction fees. I heard plenty of grousing about it, most of that anticipatory, well before it launched. In fact I argued for delaying it indefinitely after Blizzard intimated it was having some trouble working out the kinks.

It sounds like Blizzard not only failed to purge those flaws, but may have broken the game by launching it at all. “Really hurt” is certainly a long walk from something more anodyne like “could have been handled better.”

According to Joystiq, Wilson said the company assumed players wanted a real-money auction house, that it would reduce fraud, that only a fractional number of people would use it and that item pricing would help control sales volume. Instead, nearly everyone’s using it, said Wilson, with over half doing so routinely, making money far more important than Blizzard ever intended. Lest you think it’s all the real-money side, Wilson added that “gold does much more damage than [real money] does,” explaining  this is simply because more players use gold than actual cash.

What to do? Wilson said Blizzard would turn the auction house off if it could, but that the company “has no idea” how many players that’d tick off. Thus they’re working on an alternative solution, though you have to wonder how “hurt” the game really is if millions are still playing — Blizzard’s claim — and routinely using the services.

11 comments
CraigProthman
CraigProthman

They completely missed the mark. They failed to deliver what the key cohort truly loved about D2 LOD. They don't truly understand their customer it seems. Blizzard reached too far into the cookie jar and didn't get any cookies. 

AaronScoggin
AaronScoggin

The game was fun, but unrewarding. I'd spend hours grinding for that next piece of gear, only to not get a single drop. Then went on the AH and increased my DPS by 75% with my gold. 

The AH was a great idea, but poorly executed. I liked the streamlined trading, BUT drop ratios should never be based around an auction house. Guess Blizzard learned that the hard way, and now they're gonna have to work to restore faith in their company.

gjordan77
gjordan77

Millions on diablo 3? lol... I doubt it. Nearly everyone I know I bought and played D3, none of them do now. If most people are like my friends and I (and I suspect that they are..) then I just don't see how "millions" could still be playing. The RMAH was far from the game's only problem, but it certainly was one of the driving factors in my not wanting to play. The game itself just isn't fun. The fact that you can sit there and complete the entire campaign in a single sitting is pretty telling of why this game didn't succeed. 


More over, SO MANY of their design decisions became so much clearer after they announced the game would be coming to consoles. The UI, the lay out, the way skills are used and displayed... It's obvious they had planned this for console early on in the development phase and it shows, painfully at that. Personally, this game is Diablo in name only as far as I am concerned. It barely even resembles the other two Diablo games. 


Diablo 2 seemed like a natural sequel to the first game, improving in every department in leaps and bounds, yet maintaining the core aspects that made Diablo 1 an awesome game. Diablo 3 falls so short of that it makes you wonder how they let it get to this point - and then you take into consideration how the gaming industry has changed between now and then and, as someone whose been gaming for the last fifteen years, I can tell you what it SEEMS like; Before the era of massive publishers it SEEMED like developers were owned and operated by people who loved video games and wanted to make video games... Now these studios are either owned by or bound to empty suits who have no interest in the product they are creating, they are just looking for new ways to nickle and dime you with a fancy graphical interface, and oh yeah, a video game thrown in there somewhere. 


To me, this truly is the dark age of gaming, like the age of Antiquity has just fallen and crumbled and spiraled into a chaotic period of interregnum. Suits don't know how to make video games and they don't know how to treat their customers. I could branch this off into many other tangents that piss  me off . Jesus. Maybe I should just write a blog instead of writing novel length posts int he comments sections of other peoples' blogs.

SoulSeekerUSA
SoulSeekerUSA

I think the AH both real and gold are the only reason anyone plays the game anymore.

PaulyJames
PaulyJames

I don't play D3 anymore. 


No social aspect 


No cool legendaries


Few spec's are viable


RMAH sucks. 

harm.visser
harm.visser

Another day another excuse it seems,I am kinda fed up with the epic trash lies Jay keeps feeding everyone. PvP by X-mas, now blaming AH; ow well D3 players know the extent of BS told by that guy in the past.


quote: What to do? Wilson said Blizzard would turn the auction house off if it could, but that the company “has no idea” how many players that’d tick off.

Hearing from Jay again pissed of enough players again, we had the impression that guy was history and working on some other project (ow please do not let it be the expansion).


KlancyKennedy
KlancyKennedy

They made a bad game. The AH had NOTHING to do with that. It just became a scape goat. If anyone believes his line of BS, it's going to hurt the gaming industry.

zeustiak
zeustiak

Well that and the fact that they rigged the drop rates to take the Auction House into account...

bhotz1981
bhotz1981

Yeah, no kidding.  The RMAH is WHY everyone I know IRL plays the game.  We and I assume thousands of others want something to spend our entertainment/hobby time where we can also make money or have a "lottery ticket game."

Without changing the entire concept of the "button smasher" (like adding a ladder), there would be very little reason/incentive to play Diablo 3 for more than a month.  So removing the RMAH would be an absolute failure of the game.

KiaAghabeigi
KiaAghabeigi

Jay Wilson STILL doesn't understand what's hurting Diablo 3...wait maybe that's why he was removed.

mfields24
mfields24

@zeustiak That is absolutely, completely, 100%-ly true.  The game is set up as a free-to-play cash shop, except you had to pay $60 to play it.