Diablo 3's former game director Jay Wilson admitted yesterday that both the real money and gold-based auction houses have "really hurt the game," but Blizzard hopes to fix the problems it has caused in minimizing item values instead of shutting them down completely.
"It's not good for a game like Diablo," he said. "It doesn't feel good to get items for money. You want to get items from killing monsters."
Wilson, in a GDC talk on the making of the game, said that the original concept was to cut down on account fraud and offer a safe place for players to trade items, instead of going to third-party sites that could steal account or credit card information. However, they severely underestimated the number of players that would use it. Of the approximately one million players daily and three million monthly unique users, more than half use the auction house, he said. And while the auction houses were successful in cutting down on account fraud, they was the "wrong solution" for what they were trying to do.
He acknowledged that shutting down the auction houses was not as simple as it sounded, saying they did not know how many people actually enjoyed using them, and the company did not want to shut down a feature where players would be unhappy if it went away. He said Blizzard is working on a solution, but didn't elaborate.
Wilson recently stepped down as head of the Diablo 3 team, moving on to another unannounced position in the company.