Since its very inception, the real money auction house, and to a lesser extent the gold auction house, in Diablo 3 has been a double-edged sword for Blizzard Entertainment. While the feature has allowed players to share their rewards with others, and earn in-game or real money in the process, it has also led to its fair share of headaches, and has actually undermined the core appeal of Diablo: the loot.
As a result, Blizzard has today announced they will be shutting down both the real money and the gold auction houses in Diablo 3 on March 18, 2014. This should give gamers plenty of time to get their affairs in order and try to make some last minute purchases.
In the video seen above, Blizzard cites one key reason for the dissolution of the auction houses: an attempt to rejuvenate the fun in Diablo 3. See, if gamers can simply hop onto an auction house and “purchase” a rare piece of loot rather than earning it, that eliminates the “fun,” at least in Blizzard’s mind.
And so, with the Reaper of Souls expansion slated to release sometime next year, Blizzard wants to take the auction houses out, presumably changing the way loot drops in the process. By that we mean, killing monsters will again become the best way to gain better loot.
While it’s never been confirmed, there has always been a sneaky suspicion that Blizzard altered the rate of rare loot drops to encourage the use of the auction house. Just look at Diablo 3 on the PS3: there is no auction house, and rare loot drops way more often than it does on the PC. Without an auction house, the hope is that rare loot drops would be more common in the PC version as well.
However, in addition to changing the loot dynamic in Diablo 3, it’s hard not to think that Blizzard is getting rid of the auction houses for another reason. Since the very announcement of the real money auction house, there have been concerns over security and fear of exploitation. And when those fears were justified by a gold duping exploit, Blizzard was put in a bad spot.
Although, in recent months, we haven’t heard anything about the auction house being exploited, there are likely smaller incidents occurring on a regular basis. What better way to eliminate those incidents, though, than to eliminate the auction houses altogether?
Regardless of Blizzard’s true motivation (if there is one), the auction houses are closing shop early next year, which leaves gamers some time to secure any pieces of armor, weapons, or other trinkets they may have had their eyes on. But even if they don’t nab that legendary helmet, hopefully there will be an increased likelihood of it dropping in-game after the auction house is gone.
Also, as a side note: it may just be a coincidence but we’d venture to guess that Blizzard is targeting March for the release of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls.
Are you disappointed that Blizzard is closing the auction houses? Do you think they should leave the gold auction house? If it means better drop rates for loot, is that a fair trade-off?
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls releases in 2014 on the PC.