Former Diablo III director Jay Wilson has admitted that both the real-money and in-game gold Auction Houses really hurt the game.”
Wilson detailed the stark difference between Blizzard's original assumptions during development and the eventual reality of the situation, during a GDC talk (via Joystiq) this week in San Francisco.
Wilson said that before Blizzard launched Diablo III, the company believed the auction houses would help reduce fraud, provide a wanted service to players, that the price of items would limit how many were listed and sold, and that only a small percentage of players would use it.
Then the game launched, and the company found out it was dead wrong – at least in regards to the latter two points. Turns out nearly all players made use of one or both houses, and that over 50 per cent used them regularly.
That, in turn, made money a much bigger motivator than the game's original motivation: slaying Diablo. It also sullied items that were simply awarded in the game, according to Wilson.
Blizzard would just remove the feature, but claims to have its hands tied because they have no idea how many players like or dislike the system. That said, Wilson did mention that the game's team is actively working on a viable solution – though no specifics were provided.
Diablo III debuted to a rocky launch, but had still sold over 10m copies as of November of last year. An expansion is planned at some point in the future.