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Come March 18, 2014 the doors to auction houses of Diablo III will officially close. Announced earlier today by Blizzard, the Diablo team has chosen to return to the game’s loot roots by removing the auction house system.
“At the core of the Diablo experience is a promise of killing monsters, killing demons, and for the promise of finding those epic items,” said Josh Mosqueira, Game Director for Diablo III. “The auction house just made that experience way too convenient and really short circuited our core reward loop.”
Though the announcement has been a surprise, the decision to align Diablo III’s loot distribution with it’s predecessors is hardly surprising. As Mosqueira stated himself, killing monsters for loot rewards is an integral piece of the Diablo experience. Even though the auction houses provided a safer means for players to purchase items through real money or gold transfers than the third-party markets that developed over the course of Diablo II’s heyday; it became the surest and quickest way to get loot that best benefited your character in Diablo III.
With the news that the mechanic behind loot drops will be radically altered for Diablo III’s upcoming expansion, Reaper of Souls; the necessity that players have demanded from the auction houses to obtain powerful items suited for their class will be diminished come the implementation of the Loot 2.0 system. Once again, a good set of magic find gear will be the most opportune route for gearing up.
“We felt that the right decision is to preserve the integrity of the gameplay experience of Diablo, and make sure that finding items in game is the best place to find those items,” said Mosqueira.
However, the decision comes as a mixed bag of pros and cons.
For one, players will still pay gold or trade for an item which they covet but have had poor luck in finding themselves. With the emphasis on re-vamping Legendary items for Loot 2.0, we can expect certain items to develop into valuable commodities. We saw markets for valuable items naturally develop in both of the previous Diablo titles; given the promises of Loot 2.0 we can expect to see a similar development. Having a back-end system such as the auction house to provide a secured means of transfer is better for the player base than in-game trading; it alleviates concerns of scamming, offers a convenient system for finding items you’re looking for, while documenting your transfer should a problem arise.
Yet, seeing the auction house go for the reasons which the Diablo team detailed today is refreshing news. Loot has been a hassle for the game since it released. Not only have items frequently dropped which aren't suited for your class, items that did benefit your character frequently had statistics which did not. It is a truly random system, and in that cacophony of item types and statistics the player base came to know the heart of frustration and sought other means to obtain the items they wanted. Forcing many hands to the auction houses rather than keeping them in the game and in the fight. Which as Mosqueira commented on, detracted from the core experience of Diablo. Removing the auction houses will force players back to the grind of killing hordes of demonic denizens for loot but with a better loot system given the timeframe; March is not right around the corner to which we can expect to see Reaper of Souls during the 1st or 2nd quarter of next year. Even though markets for items will naturally develop following the closure of the auction houses, augmentations to the Diablo III will put the player base back on track with an age-old consonant for the hack-and-slash series; kill for loot first, trade for loot when an opportunity presents itself, rather than defaulting to the auction house.
“We firmly believe that by shutting down the real money and the gold auction houses, it really paves the way to make sure that killing monsters in game is the most rewarding. the most satisfying, the most compelling ways of getting your hands on those items,” said Mosqueira.