Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 20, 2013
 
Diablo 3 removes AH

Blizzard announced that the <a href="http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/blog/10974978/">auction house of Diablo 3 will be closed</a> in March 2014. It is interesting that they consider such a major change to the game to be worthwile two years after release. Overall I think the game is better off without the AH, as "it ultimately undermines Diablo's core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot", as Blizzard admits. Nevertheless there is a risk of serious fallout from this decision, as some players will feel they "invested" real money in the AH and now will lose that money. Pro tip: Don't invest in virtual items, they never last.
Comments:
They have 6 months to wrap up their affairs, so they didn't lose said money. Blizzard isn't blowing up what people already own, they're just shutting down one avenue of further acquisition.
 
Well, look at it that way: If you have a pile of high-end virtual items now, by how much will its value have gone down today? Markets, even virtual ones, don't react well to the news of imminent closure.
 
Considering you can blow through the game on the first level within a few days, and the harder levels are just repeats of the same content, I'm not why anyone is invested in the game long term OTHER THAN the auction. Also selling virtual goods sometimes is quite lucrative, and buying built into some games. Mostly I agree with you but not on this pro tip.
 
As someone who plays a fair amount of the game and not to make money on the AH I think you're missing something about the genre, infocyde. The point is to kill monsters, see your numbers get bigger, and find new stuff to use. It doesn't matter if I'm killing the same monsters or running the same 'plot' over and over again. I'm not playing the game for the story, I'm playing it to watch zombies explode in a shower of experience and loot.
 
They remove it because they can't milk players anymore. That's all. Do people really believe they suddenly listen to their customers, after they invested years in that tool? Nah. It simply stopped being cost/income effective and they kill it to avoid wasting more money with fixes, updates and complains.
 
The end of an era. Perhaps Blizzard have finally decided to stop designing their games around a vocal minority.

What percentage of D2 buyers actually were involved in trading?

Regardless of why you believe they implemented it (to make money or protect players from third party scams) it was only ever an irrelevant microscopic niche (similar to wows hardcore raid community) that were interested in real money purchases.

So for almost no benefit they built the game around gear trading with a gold AH bridging the gap to real money AH and poor drops (versus the console version). This wrecked the game for the masses who found the game lacked any appeal given that the optimal approach was to buy vastly superior gear to your in game loot for peanuts on the gold AH.

This doesn't matter in a non-sub game as disappointed players had already paid. But they have lost a lot of sales for the expansions. Let's see if this damage limitation exercise works.
 
Anyone else planning on logging in on the 13th to see if there are any 'closing down' bargains?

I'm with Rugus on this - I'm sure this is just a financial decision and if the AH was still making money they would keep it open. I really want to the the breakdown of how well it did.
 
Virtual items may not last. But the saying "you can't take it with you" was invented before the advent of virtual items...
 
"Considering you can blow through the game on the first level within a few days, and the harder levels are just repeats of the same content, I'm not why anyone is invested in the game long term OTHER THAN the auction. Also selling virtual goods sometimes is quite lucrative, and buying built into some games."

What you describe there is not a game, it is a job.
 
@Rugus - I highly doubt that.

Sure, how much revenue the auction house generates would be part of the decision, it can't NOT be. But purely by your logic, the launch of an expansion would be an ideal time for the AH to be in effect from a pure revenue standpoint. The base code of the AH is already there, little effort (if any) is needed to keep it viable for the expansion. I find it hard to believe it would be a money sink. You could argue they think they will sell more box copies with out it, because it will make the game a better game... but isn't that the point? And what we as gamers want?

Those working at Blizzard clearly realized the scale of the problem the AH caused for Diablo, but only fully after the game was released.

They made a mistake, one that actualy isn't that hard to make.

I still fault them, but I dont't hate them. Nor think that one of the few game developers that understands it's greatest asset and marketing tool is its reputation has turned full sell out for chump change.

Yes they want to make money, but not only do they care about making the best games possible, THEY BUILT IT INTO THIER BUISNESS MODEL (which is the best thing possible for us as gamers). This is one of the greatest points people seems to miss about Blizzard.

The whole, 'we release when the game is ready' and 'soon TM' is not industry standard for a reason. Scraping games you've dumped millions into because you don't suspect the final product will live up to the standards of the studio when you could complete and release and see revenue (see Ghost, and a few others) is not industry standard for a reason.

Blizzard tries to make the best games possible, and supports them far more than almost any other dev after realease. And they know WE know that. They know that people don't have to check a review site before buying a blizzard title. They know the value their brand carries. How much it lost with D3. And have no doubt, they were disapointed at D3 dispite the massive sales.

It's funny because many of thier most famous games were actually far from perfect at launch and were slowly and continuly polished and patched and updated. Starcraft didn't truly shine until BW (and the patches after) - how people can forget the growing pains of D2 while they harp on it being better than D3 is surprising to me. WoW was a solid MMO contender with issues at release.

Blizzard has always released good games, and polished them even after release often in truly great games.

D3 was a disapointment, but only because it wasn't one of the best games ever, it was just a good game. That is the kind of mistake people crucify Blizzard for.
 
My opinion is that Blizzard tried to make a lot of money via AH and it didn't work (apart from the first months, I suppose). On the long run, that tool became a waste of money in terms of patches, updates and -probably- customer care for every single "I LOST MY MONEY", "I WAS SCAMMED", "YOU ROBBED ME" assistance ticket.

Launching the expansion would potentially add more bugs, more hassle, more "oh crap!" things into the scene. Again, the AH would be a stress, more than a money maker.

I consider simply impossible that Blizzard carefully analyzed the reactions and just "realized" and "admitted" that it was a game breaker. They KENW since... years... it would have been a shit-storm for the game.

Whenm they introduced the AH stuff it was more than 1 year prior the launch of the game. And fans went totally crazy (official forums, blogs, fansites, ... everywhere). I guess I was one of them, at that time, as I was extremely involved with the game.

Everyone and their cat knew it would have been a kick in the balls. But Blizzard insisted on selling it as a wonderful way to enrich the experience. Meanwhile no PvP, broken mechanics, nearly useless professions and of course the "always online" requirement.

Now we're here and what do we get? No more Auction House and guess what? OFFLINE MODE for consoles only.

I would be a fool -and a stupid- if I still was able to trust that company. They teabagged us more than one time and now that the train is derailed they just find a way to save the face.

"We do that for the player's experience". Oh come on, we're not all idiots.
 
On a side note, I do not crucify them. I just find absolutelyu ridiculous that we had to pay a full price of 60,00 € for an incomplete game (when it was released) which was clearly flawed by broken mechanics (AH being the worst).

People complained because they wanted a true Diablo successor, not a game focused on milking people.

I mean.. every smartphone app is intended to screw you and induce you to waste some dollars. But at least it is usually free ot sells for 90cents or a little more.
 
I'm quite happy Blizzard made a decision to nix something that was making them money purely for the good of the game. That's a hell of a choice.
 
I find this rather surprising, since the AH has been going on for such a long time... But personally I have nothing against it, not sure if it should've even been there in the first place. As many noted, it probably became a waste of effort to Blizzard and they decided to close it as unprofitable... That's my 2 cents on the table anyway.
 
@ Sine

They would have never ditched the AH if it really was "profitable". My bet is that in order to keep earning money from the AH they had to spend more money to fix it. And I am quite sure that support/assistance to the customers was driving the profits down.

If you think about it, WoW developers said multiple times that they have to invest a hell of a lot of time when answering requests/tickets, both ingame and from the website.

Just imagine the amount of "unhappy" people who used the AH and asked Blizzard to intervene for bad transactions, scams and much more.

They closed it because it probably became a nightmare to manage. Not because thy wanted to make the game "better for the player".
 
I have no idea and no chance to find out what the "real" reason to close the D3 AH is so I don't join the speculation about it.

But... I can tell you that the AH was ultimately the reason I stopped playing. Couldn't care less about other people using it, but the sheer existance of it influenced my fun. The announcement is absolutely right with "it ultimately undermines Diablo's core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot". I quickly realized that even with the pityful amount of gold I got by casually playing the game I could buy better stuff from the AH than I had ever the chance of finding myself.

Finding something cool after countless hours of pindle runs is much more satisfying than farming some gold and spend it on the auction house.
 
It is worthwhile because they will be launching the expansion and hope to lure back all the people who were pissed at the state of D3's loot drops. These are also the people who blamed the loot system on the existence of the AH.
 
the RMAH seems to still have a pretty active user base so I don't think it's an economic thing. The obvious reasons they implemented it in the first place was to try and kill the stuff that happened in D2 with commercial sites spamming the crap out of all online players constantly and crashing servers to dupe items to sell for cash.

Now they have a big loot patch scheduled that I think they are hoping will obsolete the need for an AH. If they improve the quality of loot and it's drop rates players won't have much reason to trade. Which is kind of sad to me. I like the aspect of having items that are rare enough to be worth trading around. If they strike a perfect balance I suppose that trading might survive but just not on so large of a scale that the AH is required. My real concern though is that the loot will still be crappy and the commercial sites will just take over the item trading scene.
 
Reading this and these comments makes me glad I never dropped $140 on two copies of D3 when it first came out, and instead picked up two copies of Torchlight 2 for under $20 (Hooray for Steam sales!)

T2 is the game D3 should have been, at 1/3 the price; less even if you can get it on sale.
 
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