Former Diablo 3 Game Director Jay Wilson
admitted during a talk at GDC 2013
in San Francisco that both of Diablo 3
's Auction Houses (both the real-money and the in-game gold item auction house
) "really hurt the game." Wilson said that before Blizzard launched the game, the company had a few assumptions about how the Auction Houses would work: He thought they would help reduce fraud, that they'd provide a wanted service to players, that only a small percentage of players would use it and that the price of items would limit how many were listed and sold.
But he said that once the game went live, Blizzard realized it was completely wrong about those last two points. It turns out that nearly every one of the game's players (of which there are still about 1 million per day, and about 3 million per month, according to Wilson) made use of either house, and that over 50 percent of players used it regularly. That, said Wilson, made money a much higher motivator than the game's original motivation to simply kill Diablo, and "damaged item rewards" in the game. While a lot of the buzz around the game attacked the real money Auction House, "gold does much more damage than the other one does," according to Wilson, because more players use it and prices fluctuate much more.
"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson said during his talk. But the problem is "not as easy as that;" with all of Blizzard's current players, he says the company "has no idea" how many players like the system or hate it. Blizzard, Wilson said, doesn't want to remove a feature that lots of players will be unhappy to see go. But he did say that the team is working on a viable solution, without giving any other details about what that would be like.