Although Diablo 3 had one of the most controversial launches in recent gaming history, Blizzard's hack-and-slash dungeon crawler has bounced back quite well during the last year. The game had some big improvement patches, solid console ports, and players are now looking forward to the upcoming expansion pack (Reaper of Souls) which promises another batch of improvements. It's hard to please lifelong fans of the game's genre-defining predecessor, but Blizzard is working hard to improve the action-RPG experience.
Once Diablo 3 was actually up-and-running, one of the messiest aspects of the game was the 'Real Money Auction House.' Launched after a string of delays and having never gained traction in the way Blizzard intended, many fans claimed the Auction House - along with unbalanced drop rates of rare loot - made it a feature that should be altogether removed. Blizzard officially claimed to hear their fans loud and clear months ago, and today the company has started shutting the system down entirely.
At present, players are still able to access both the real-money and in-game gold Auction Houses from the Diablo 3 menu, but visitors will experience a very limited experience as no new bids, buyouts, or listings are being accepted at this point. Players who login to the game will receive the following notification:
"The Auction House is shutting down. You must claim your items from the Completed tab by 6/24. Existing auctions will complete based on the time remaining."
Essentially, Blizzard is waiting for all of the currently running auctions to resolve (so that players don't lose any items or money that they are potentially in the process of earning) to shut down. The company hasn't confirmed the next step, but it seems highly likely that once all the current auctions are over that the menu option will simply disappear. If you have any loot tied up in an auction, we'd recommend reclaiming it by that June 24 deadline.
The initial goal of the Auction House, according to Blizzard during development, was to provide a convenient and secure location for real-money trades that were already taking place in many online games, not simply Blizzard's. Despite the fact that it successfully accomplished those primary goals (for the most part), Blizzard has admitted over time that the feature has undermined the core gameplay of Diablo: in short, kill monsters and get cool loot.
The new 'Smart Loot' system that was implemented in the Loot 2.0 patch encourages finding new gear (rather than buying or trading) with the use of bind-on-account Legendary items. The new drop rates and smart loot system have quieted many critics, and hopefully put the game back where it needs to be to support the launch of the upcoming expansion pack. How quick players are to forgive - or give the game a second chance - remains to be seen.
Are you happy to see the Auction House go, or did you like the option of avoiding the grind by playing the bidding game? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.