More from Jay’s GDC postmortem via Joystiq.
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 made use of either house, and that over 50% 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.
Moar quote from IGN’s write up of Jay’s presentation. (Which was video recorded and should be available for us to see in its entirety soon™.
Even though Wilson believes the RMAH has accomplished the goal of reducing account fraud (third-party Diablo 2 item trading sites frequently stole passwords and credit card information), and asserts that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that many people do want it based on the number of transactions happening daily, Wilson now freely admits it was “the wrong solution” to the problems Blizzard was trying to solve. “It’s not good for a game like Diablo. It doesn’t feel good to get items for money, it feels good to get items by killing monsters,” he said, echoing the complaints of a vocal group of fans.
Jay went on to say that the devs have considered many ways to change or fix this, including simply shutting down the AH entirely, but they think that would be a worse cure than the disease. Note that the console version will have better quality item drops and no Auction House of any kind — we initilaly assumed that decision was mostly about technical issues with lacking character security for the offline play option — but perhaps it’s as much about a feature choice, to see how the game works for players who don’t have an Auction House to rely on.
Given Jay’s comments and the Diablo 3 console features, does it seem possible that the Diablo 3 expansion might appear with much better drop rates and do away with the Auction House entirely? What would you guys think of that change? And what happened to the idea that Diablo 3’s ongoing support and dev costs would be paid for by RMAH profits? (What if the GAH went away and only the RMAH remained? Chaos and outrage?)