During a talk GDC 2013 in San Francisco, former Diablo 3 Director Jay Wilson confessed that the Auction Houses (both the real-money and the in-game gold item auction house) “really hurt the game.” Before the game was launched, Blizzard had a few ideas on how the Auction Houses would work and what their benefits would be: 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.
Unfortunately, when the game finally went live, Blizzard realized it was completely wrong about those last two points. Nearly one out of the million players who play Diablo 3 everyday made use of either house, and that over 50 percent of players used it regularly. This changed the main motivation of the game from “killing Diablo” to just acquiring more money, according to Wilson. He also noted “gold does much more damage than the other one does,” 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. Wilson said that Blizzard doesn’t want to remove a feature that lots of players will be upset 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.