Blizzard Admits Diablo III Auction House Was a Mistake

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Blizzard Admits Diablo III Auction House Was a Mistake

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"I think we would turn it off if we could," former game designer Jay Wilson said regarding both the gold and Real Money Auction Houses.

Diablo III was a very underwhelming game to many long-time fans of the classic dungeon crawler. The obvious reason was Blizzard's much touted Auction House feature, which allowed players to sidestep actually playing the game to collect items, and instead stare at spreadsheets for hours determining if an item was both an upgrade and a "good deal". Despite overwhelming player complaints that the Auction House went against the spirit of the game, Blizzard insisted that it was a necessary feature. But it now looks like former game director Jay Wilson has admitted defeat, telling Joystiq that both of Diablo III's Auction Houses "really hurt the game."

He says that Blizzard grossly underestimated how players would utilize the Auction Houses. He thought they would help reduce fraud, that they'd provide a service to players that they wanted, that only a small percentage of players would use them, and that the price of items would limit how many were listed and sold. Boy was he wrong, especially on the last two points.

Almost every one of the game's players made use of an Auction House, and 50% of all players use one "regularly". Wilson says that the game still has a daily player base of around 1 million concurrent players, with 3 million per month. He says the problem is that the Auction Houses made money a much higher motivator than actually, you know, killing Diablo.

This damaged the reward of actually finding items in the game, because why spend hours farming bosses for random loot when you can go on the Auction House and find exactly what you need? The majority of Auction House hate is directed towards the Real Money Auction House, which many players saw as a shameless revenue raiser for Blizzard, but Wilson explains that "gold does much more damage than the other one does," because more players use it and prices fluctuate much more.

"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson admitted, "but the problem is not as easy as that." He says that Blizzard has no real idea how many players actually enjoy the feature, and he doesn't want to remove something that some players might like. That said, he says that the team are working on a "viable solution" to the Auction House problem, but stopped short of actually explaining what it would be.

I really think nothing short of turning the Real Money Auction House off completely, and substantially increasing loot drops as well as making the blacksmith much more viable (like they have started to do with the Infernal Machine and Demonic Essences) will "fix" the Auction House problem.

Source: Joystiq

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I really feel bad for everyone here. I feel bad for the developers because it must be hard to admit that your creation just didn't quite live to everyone's expectations. And I also feel bad for the Diablo fans because you could really see how excited they all were for this title.

At the same time, I admire the fact they admitted it wasn't exactly what they had in mind. Most developers would go "Oh, it's the audience's fault" or "Figures they wouldn't like it if its not CoD". So props for that?

Beautiful End:
I really feel bad for everyone here. I feel bad for the developers because it must be hard to admit that your creation just didn't quite live to everyone's expectations. And I also feel bad for the Diablo fans because you could really see how excited they all were for this title.

At the same time, I admire the fact they admitted it wasn't exactly what they had in mind. Most developers would go "Oh, it's the audience's fault" or "Figures they wouldn't like it if its not CoD". So props for that?

It makes them seem human and not like a sociopathic Corp. While this may be just for good PR, it will work to bring back some good will and gives hope they won't do it again.

I actually kind of liked the idea of the auction house. The problem was that they lowered the drop rates so much that you pretty much had to use it. It was a lot of use when you are leveling a new character and want some low level items but it sucked when you basically had to use it for any character. I understand why they introduced it because lets face it finding the stuff you needed/wanted in diablo 2 was a royal pain in the ass. Having to look in dozens of different games advertising trading or creating one and waiting two hours really sucked.

Taking it out now would be a massive problem though because on top of what he said you would have to restructure drop rates as well as the game lobby. You would need a new lobby similar to diablo 2's in order to make it work.

I am really curios to see how they will go about it with the ps3/4 versions.

I wasn't against the auction house but yea it destoryed the reason to grind the game therefore killing it. Nice they can see that and maybe for the first expansion they'll drop it/restrict it/redesign it. I used it and don't hate it but hey whatever, people will like and hate whatever they want.

Oh EA!

You wanted to tell us something?...

Oh man I hope they don't remove they real money auction house. I like being able to sell the things I don't need to people to lazy to play the game for real money. That money I then use to pay my WoW subscription.

Well I suppose it's good that capitalism exists for Diablo fans, because Torchlight 2 was a better Diablo experience then Diablo 3 was.

Well look at that. Another case in point that fans know what the fuck they're talking about. Auction house was a deal breaker for me. I knew it would ruin the game.

Live and learn. I bought Diablo III just to see how would the auction houses would affect the gameplay, from my time playing it and some friend's opinions it wasn't a good idea; but on general I am glad Blizz went that way on that game, was an interesting experience.

wow, surprised they'd admit fault.

now make the game less boring and I MIGHT reinstall it

Great that they're admitting it and all but you'd think they would have realized it was a bad idea when so many fans were very vocal about their hatred of the idea before the game was even released.

Logged in about a month ago and still had lag issues on a 20/2 Mbit connection. Decided to ignore the issues(again) and just play. Half an hour in I gave up, because there's nothin satisfying about playing it, as well as the fact that I'm very prone to buy stuff I don't need, so the AH is a temptation that makes me just want to stop playing, rather than ignoring this "feature".

I went into this with an open mindset, bought the CE, because I'm a sucker, joined 7 other friends at a LAN(because it was a nice excuse to live those days again for a week) and we were all bummed out. We'd already discussed the features at length and agreed that AH was a bad idea, always online was a bad idea and the new skill system would probably be fairly bad(which it was, mostly).
It didn't help that Path of Exile beta was out as well, which really let you relive the Diablo 2 experience, for free.

Blizzard wants to please everyone, but while they're trying to get rid of all the problems with duping and what not, they forgot to make the game fun and handed out a patch that ruined the hard work of a lot of players(I didn't suffer this, because I'd long since stopped, but there was a lot of bitching from two friends of mine, who usually take nerfs with a prudent approach).
You don't get to do whatever you want with the game. It's not yours. You're bound to a specific experience that for better or in this case worse, that the devs want you to have.

The game tries to be good, but it's shit, it really is.

I felt pressured into using it... by the time I hit Inferno level I was grossly under defended and resilianted (Not a word but work with me here).

No amount of running act 4 of Hell Difficulty would net me the drops I needed unless I was extremely lucky.

It would have taken weeks, months if I was really poor on luck.

And that was where the enjoyment ended for me, I couldn't pour real money into the game, I had to grind gold, and sell everything on there for a profit because selling unwanted gear in game to NPC's only got you a paltry peanuts amount of what it would be worth to the right players on that damn AH. And if someone was a bigger grinder of gold than you, well guess what sonny, INFLATION TIME, no gear for you unless you can pay the toll.

And yeah, I don't like playing the auction house on WoW, I don't like it here. I can manage my own gold but at the cost of enjoyment... for what, to get more gear? To kill Diablo AGAIN on a slightly up-tuned level?

At least in World of Warcraft I'm continually striving toward a new experience, or encounter, or level of play in unique circumstances with a fairly stable online experience and complex gameplay and decent story (seriously pandaria's story telling has really been fantastic as far as WoW goes).

Diablo 3 was just...well WoW with all the fun cut out by the end of it. WoW has this itch scratched for me now... Back when Diablo 2 was fresh WoW was barely in a nappy throwing it's first beta images to the cooing masses. It's not quite as necessary as it was...

Also my god the networking rubber band issues just shot it in the face for me. My internet connection is not stable. It fluctuates poorly because using copper phone lines for Internet sucks for poor people but that's the best I can get here. And it caused all sorts of issues, my monk would spring back into insta kill poison and fire she'd escaped 3 seconds ago or so my commands and brain would have me believe only for the wonderful Diablo 3 servers to have gotten the message delayed and kicked my character back into the death trap.
I couldn't even ATTEMPT hardcore mode like I wanted because I'd be gimped from the start.

Anyway I already relayed this to Blizzard when I quit, As much damage control as they try to do, they do at least tend to concede on issues, the problem is being able to do anything about them once the shit has already hit the fan. Hindsight is all well and good and screaming foul when the mess happens is fun for a while, but acting on the problems and not repeating the mistakes speaks louder

Scorpid:
Well I suppose it's good that capitalism exists for Diablo fans, because Torchlight 2 was a better Diablo experience then Diablo 3 was.

Not only Torchlight 2, both Path of Exile and Grim Dawn wouldn't be this far along in development if it weren't for the disappointment of D3

I did not have a problem with the idea of the AH. I just hatted how they basicly forced you to use it when the game came out and it just seemed the game was built around it rather then a feature of the game.

Biggest peves with it

1.It became entirely nessery for inferno due to how the loot drops worked when the game came out.
Lev 63 items did not drop until act 2 and they were basically a requirement for solo Inferno with the exception of one class. If you wanted to solo run inferno you were basicly at the whim of teams that could grind inferno.
Last time I played this changed but it just sucked the fun out of the game for me.

2. Combined with the limited choices in weapon types and damage skills and no ability to mess with attributed points, duel weps being worthless it forced very limited amounts of Meta build for each class compared to outer games.
It forced you to grind for that one item rather then between you and your friends finding a item that helped your build rather then optmized it.

Yay! Maybe, just maybe, they'll release an offline version. Then I'll buy it.

Now just remove the AH and always online requirement and I may actually check out your game, Blizz.

which allowed players to sidestep actually playing the game to collect items

Pas the first two difficulty levels it REQUIRED you to use the AH to buy items instead of collect them from drops because the drops were purposely crappy because the game was balanced for the AH's existence (they admitted this). If you didn't use the AH to gear up you would get your ass repeatedly kicked in Inferno level without it, to the point of making negative progress.

This means playing turned into:
- Grind to get gold in your gold suit AND/OR
- Grind to get items in your item suit - items which you could never actually use, just sell on AH.
- Use AH to buy slightly better gear.
- See how far you can get before it's no longer fun to play.
- Repeat.

WHEEEEEEEEEEE

Note - this was pre-Paragon.

Adam Jensen:
Well look at that. Another case in point that fans know what the fuck they're talking about. Auction house was a deal breaker for me. I knew it would ruin the game.

"Nah it's okay guys we know what we're doing, you'll love it". All too common famous last words from AAA game developers nowadays. I think they need to wake up and realise that sometimes they don't have all the answers, and sometimes letting the game get spoiled a bit in testing is worth the benefits.

You finally admit a mistake in Diablo 3's design, but it wasn't always online? I'm disappointed in you Blizzard.

Arakasi:
Yay! Maybe, just maybe, they'll release an offline version. Then I'll buy it.

Fappy:
Now just remove the AH and always online requirement and I may actually check out your game, Blizz.

This...a thousand times this...

Well it's good that they admit that AH was a mistake and RMAH just added to that terribleness. Now if they would recreate diablo 3 to make it have offline mode and remove the AH and RMAH for those who wants to play multiplayer. Then i would actually buy it.

The solution is easy. Open servers without AH, and allow offline play.
Those who still want the AH get to keep it, those who hate it don't have to put up with it and those who want to play alone will be able to.

"Yes, the auction house was a terrible mistake. That's why we continued to sell the game anyway."

Reminds me of when that SEGA guy said Aliens: Colonial Marines was a developmental failure. And he was saying, "oh, Gearbox screwed us over and the game is pathetic and disappointing and we're sorry." But they weren't, I suppose, sorry enough to stop selling the game.

This industry is ready to apologize for broken products, but more than willing to sell them. Even when they know their product is broken, they will lie to sell it, get their profit, and then apologize. That... does that seem wrong to anyone else? Like, the most disingenuous bullshit ever?

Well it was not like they were obscuring the fact that it was going to be a AH you can just not buy it. The launch problems though although very predictable was a good basis for refunds.

So now maybe publishers and developers will actually learn from it.
Oh wait we're not talking about the always online? Oh well, baby steps I guess.

Steven Bogos:
Wilson says that the game still has a daily player base of around 1 million concurrent players, with 3 million per month. He says the problem is that the Auction Houses made money a much higher motivator than actually, you know, killing Diablo.

And lucky you, you got to do both at once :P

oldtaku:

This means playing turned into:
- Grind to get gold in your gold suit AND/OR
- Grind to get items in your item suit - items which you could never actually use, just sell on AH.
- Use AH to buy slightly better gear.
- See how far you can get before it's no longer fun to play.
- Repeat.

WHEEEEEEEEEEE

Note - this was pre-Paragon.

Replace AH with trading other players and you just summed up Diablo 2 as well as basically every game like this.

Adam Jensen:
Well look at that. Another case in point that fans know what the fuck they're talking about. Auction house was a deal breaker for me. I knew it would ruin the game.

This is why I laugh at people who say that developers shouldn't listen to fans and focus instead on their 'artistic vision'

They are making a damn product that they want us to buy and, presumably, enjoy. We know what the fuck we want you stupid devs, listen to us!

Fappy:
Now just remove the AH and always online requirement and I may actually check out your game, Blizz.

If they did that, I would buy it.

OT: Its nice to see SOME companies admitting they fucked up instead of trying to shift the blame around or lie -looks at EA-

Steven Bogos:
But it now looks like former game director Jay Wilson has admitted defeat, telling Joystiq that both of Diablo III's Auction Houses "really hurt the game."

Important thing that people haven't yet noted is the word "former".

As in, he admits that the game made the mistake, but only well AFTER he's no longer in a position to do anything to fix it.

So really, why should I care that he admits fault? He's only doing it now to try to buy back some loyalty in the company's brand, and he's not in any position to actually contribute to any sort of fix for the problem he now admits is there. His opinion on the subject is now absolutely meaningless and only serves to try and regain the goodwill of his scorned fans.

What I didn't understand about this was... didn't people at blizzard play, you know, world of warcraft?

When I quit Wow back in, geez, 2007, the AH was crazy time consuming already, and I can only imagine it has gotten crazier.

I understand that there was a problem with the in game economy of Diablo 2,but jeeze it took them a long time to figure this out.

danon:
Well it was not like they were obscuring the fact that it was going to be a AH you can just not buy it. The launch problems though although very predictable was a good basis for refunds.

The main issue with the AH is that game balance was affected by its very existence. By that, I don't mean that more people have/want better items and that it screwed the game, I mean that they tweaked the numbers down to reduce the number of good drops individual players would get in order to compensate for the availability of great items on the AH. That this was done for money or not doesn't factor into my hatred of this system.

Yes, I also know we had 3rd party websites selling items for D2, but it wasn't so much "in your face" has it is now.

My quickfix solutions for D3 (not definitive, but maybe quicker to implement asap):

-Inform players that the AH will be shut down in 2 months and to take out their money asap.

-Rework drop tables to take into account the now defunct AH and give bosses better loots.

-Bring back the chatrooms.

-Bring back game creation/selection with names and passwords.

-Allow a "no story" mode where you can run around everywhere with no locks blocking your way and allow people to go to any acts they want. Also allow toggle hostile in town in this mode.

-Remove inferno difficulty and replace it by a difficulty modifier. For example, you could create a game and enter 10% in the modifier field and now monsters are 10% stronger than they were in Hell difficulty and may yield items more often and so on, but not absolutely better than what we already had in inferno difficulty.You would play this mode for challenge and more frequent yellow and better drops. You could then brag about beating the game at a higher modifier than your friends and so on.

-Make grouping more FUN and something players will want by making the game harder when people join, but much more rewarding. If you have a full game you could get a health/drop%/so on bonus. You could even make some group bonuses dependent on the type of characters in the party/game. You could give special "group attacks" as well a bit like in the LOTR MMO and so on. Use your damn imagination and money for once!

-Create a secondary game mode/system, first on PTR, then implemented, that would allow for a skill tree-based system and free points allocation like in D2. Implement items more like they were in D2. You could implement this with the Xpac, who knows.

-Offline and LAN modes. Open B.net.

Steven Bogos:
and substantially increasing loot drops as well as making the blacksmith much more viable

Pretty much hit the nail on the head right there. Why not do that?

"What's that? People are over using the auction houses and not playing the game? Maybe we should incentivise our players to actually play the game the proper way?"

"Nah, the more they use the RMAH, the more money we get for it".

The premise were wrong. They designed a lot of features on D3 based on opinion of superhardcore players.

I know a ton of people that never bought items on the side for D2, and I bet a huge amount only did that once or twice. It was a huge market because the player base on D2 was also huge, but I doubt that buying items were a bread and butter thing that everyone did regularly to the point of needing a regular AH. A very good trade system and good itemization would have been enough to accommodate most players.

Also eliminating customization because "everyone" just used the optimized option. I really doubt that. Sure, hardcore players (specially in PVP)will look in the internet the best build and run after it, but I bet that even those had a few characters on the side to have fun with and see if other things worked. You certainly did not need any perfect build to beat D2 - and D3 didn't even have PVP.

And they couldn't even kill the blackmarket, which operates with gold now.

And they didn't nailed balance either - even with everything unlocked there are players using optimal configurations everywhere. The problem is even worse because it is way more easy to just use the optimal configuration and people do not even try something different.

Oh, well...

See? Was that so hard?
I only completed Diablo 3 on Normal for 4-5 characters thus I didn't find AH very useful. The only change I want them to make is to remove always-online feature.

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