It’d be an understatement to say that Diablo III‘s launch last spring had a couple of issues, but one of the biggest had to do with a feature that Blizzard felt its ultra-popular ARPG series needed: An auction house. As a general rule, auction houses seem to be mostly regarded as a good thing in online games, as they avail the opportunity to easily trade with other players. The problem with DIII‘s implementation, though, is that real cash is involved.
There are a couple of reasons why Blizzard’s implementation is poor. For starters, Diablo has always been about the loot, finding ever-improving equipment and in turn making the game more enjoyable. When all you have to do is haul out a credit card to buy that loot, a massive portion of the experience is pulled away. One purchase might seem good at first, but after a while, you might realize you’re damned bored, and then decide to put the game on the shelf (or more accurately, uninstall it).
Since the game’s launch, the community has been quite vocal about the auction house’s problems, and fortunately, Blizzard has been listening. After some contemplation, the company has finally decided to pull the plug – though it won’t happen until March 28, 2014, effectively 22 months after the game’s launch. Still, this has so far been a hugely welcomed decision by the community, and proves to a certain extent that the company is still fully interested in giving its fans what they want.
Given that the game was built around the use of an auction house, it’s going to be interesting to see how Blizzard will update the game in order to keep players engaged without it. A common sense change would be to improve the drop-rate of better items, but will that be enough? Time will tell – we’re sure to learn a lot more as March nears.