Blue on Potential Auction House Shenanigans

One of the concerns players have repeatedly voiced about the DiabloWikiRMAH is the potential for Blizzard to create items from thin air and sell them for instant profits. We talked about that Bashiok replies with an explanation during our big RMAH debate show, but most of the speculation at that point was on Blizzard potentially creating uber items. After all, with the anonymous nature of the auction house, there’s no way to know who is selling anything, and if Blizzard started hacking top items into existence, there’s really no way we’d ever know.

A fan brought that issue up today, but went for an even more untraceable method; gold sales for currency. Bashiok replies with an explanation of how stackable auctions work, and again assures us that Blizzard will never hack items into existence just for the profits.

Gold and other stackable items can be searched for and purchased from multiple people in a single transaction. You can get a better explanation here:

In short, no, we don’t generate any items or gold on the auction house. It’s a player driven feature and the items you’re buying are from what other players have found and placed on the AH for sale. There can certainly be a situation where you may want to buy 1 million gold and only 850,000 is available in total from all current auctions. You’d be informed of this when presented with a final purchase price.

Thank you do much for giving a response Bash. Any word on whether we will have better search features in final release?

We do want to have a full search, and not just drop down selectors, but it’s a feature that may or may not make it in for the initial release. We think the drop downs do work pretty well right now, especially considering the randomness of the vast majority of items.

While the conspiracy theory stuff about Blizzard hacking the D3 economy for quick profits is fun, I think the second issue is more important. As all of last two podcasts our last two podcasts opinioned from their beta experimentation, the Auction House is basically unusuable now, in terms of searching out items with mods that you want. There’s a drop down menu that lists dozens of potential mods, but it’s hard to use, there’s no text entry interface, the search returns aren’t properly sortable, etc.

That Bashiok says it’s not going to get any better for release is bad news for the AH functionality…. but good news for the DiabloWikirelease date, since it seems to indicate they’re not going to continue pushing the game back indefinitely.

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19 thoughts on “Blue on Potential Auction House Shenanigans

  1. If there were one thing to hold up release it should be the auction house. I second that it is unusable in its current form.
    Even plopped down a TLDR about it in the beta feedback forum.

  2. you know…I wouldn’t even care if they did sell unique items.  As long as they weren’t better than what you can find in game.  But if it was just something like a similar item (stats wise) but with a unique model, then I’d be ok with that.  Especially since it is optional anyway.   Just like WoW where you can buy pets/mounts.  They don’t really make a difference, just something to collect.   If they did that to pay for the massive server costs, then so be it.  (or to make the shareholders happy..whatever) Of course I’d be against pay to win.  But I don’t see them going that route.

    • I’m all for cosmetic DLC.
      What I’d really like, and I know there’s problems with this, is DLC event packages. Events are one of the best additions to the game, imo, and I’ll take all I can get.

  3. Why always the apologist for Blizzard?

    While I don’t think Blizz would deliberately dupe items (and truly that is just an opinion not fact) it does not obviate that we are talking about a managed economy.

    Would anyone here argue that a casino or gambling house managing their house is a conspiracy? No actually its expected! They are in it to make money.

    It’s not an open operation, you don’t get to see what’s going on on the inside. Whether that control is used negatively or not, without evidence none can argue either way. But to airbrush and gloss over the issue as though its a conspiracy simply avoids the issue.

    It’s not surprising that some continue to point out that the auction houses is a bit like gambling. You enter a system based on luck or as they would call it magic find or “crafting”, etc where the probability of that is controlled by the house / the game and its now directly linked with monetary rewards that the house benefits from???

    It’s not a conspiracy, its a concern. Treat it as such.

    • Flux isn’t apologizing or “airbrushing” the argument. He’s hardly an apologist. I think that’s the first time he’s been accused of that, and likely the last.

      What he’s arguing against is malicious intent on Blizzard’s part to sell items that don’t exist. Like you said, there’s no evidence for it, but that is the “conspiracy” people are referring to, just like the fellow in the first quoted post. It’s one thing to “manage” the house, and quite another to control it via a currency or property that wouldn’t otherwise exist, which would totally destabilize what they’re trying to do.

      Of course they’re profiting from it, and of course they want to manage it, but that profit is not a secret, nor is it done “behind the scenes”. It’s clearly listed what the prices are for using the auction house.

      • I think we can allow that we both got different connotations from his post. The word ‘apologist’ was probably misplaced as Flux didn’t really offer an argument. I was taking issue with the perceive tone as in how he dismissed it as trivial – ‘conspiracy theory stuff.’

        And the system behind the auction house is opaque. The listings are just the front end. There is a system behind all that that effect drop rates, etc. We never get to see that. That’s whats managed. And that’s infinitely more a cause of concern to some than simply putting in a few unique items to fetch some cash.

        There’s no hidden machination or plot here. No theory to explain some unknowable event, the definition of a conspiracy theory.

        • I tried to keep this post short and to the point, since I didn’t want to get into the “will bliz haxor” issue in it, since that would require more words and length. And I thought I might mention it in comments, but then the big info hit right after I posted this and I was instantly busy doing stuff on that.

          At any rate, I’ve commented on that in previous posts and at least twice on the podcast, but to briefly recap… I think it’s highly unlikely that bliz would hack items to sell them on the RMAH. Aside from issues of their integrity/honesty, it’s a huge risk, since if they somehow get caught, the bad publicity and undermining of the integrity of the whole system would be a gigantic scandal.

          They want to make millions in profits from skimming their $.80 per RMAH sale. It’s not worth risking that for a much smaller profit from a few item or gold hacks.

  4. Of all the things that could be broken at release I think the RMAH is the best option and have the least overall effect for most of the players.

  5. By the same logic above: There’s nothing to stop Blizzard in doing this even without a RMAH. Who knows, maybe they have been running one of the ‘illegit’ item stores for D2 for years already. Jeebus, relax on the paranoia people!

  6. dunno what happened with that comment…. but d3 will probably come out earliest may 2012 which is quite unlikely I’m starting to think. The game still needs alot of work.

  7. The argument that Blizzard would create items out of thin air, just to sell for profit is ridiculous.

    Consider all of the sources of revenue blizzard already has; $50ish dollars per new game title sold, however much their older games sell for, $15/month per millions of WoW subscribers, DLC for WoW, blizzard store merchandise, openly stated fees on RMAH transactions.   The combined total of all this revenue = a shit load of money.

    Now, consider how much items in the RMAH are going to be worth.  On the low end, you’re going to have things worth around a dollar.  How much will the most expensive items cost? 50 bucks? hundreds?   lets be generous and assume that the most rare item in the game will sell for $1000.   If blizzard manifests ONE of these items and sells it,  they would be risking major PR damage for $1000, a very small drop in the bucket compared to all the money they are already making.  For this to be a worthwhile venture they would have to make a LOT of auctions of the expensive high end items.  By doing so, they would be driving down the value of those same items and therefor making less money per item, while damaging the economy.

    So ask yourself, do you really think blizzard is the type of company that would spend years upon years upon years upon years developing their game, and then readily destroy it  just to barely increase their earnings?

  8. well… politicians also state very often that they are not out for any nepotism and things like that… the thing is if you believe them or not… I dont know and I dont care as long as it doesnt affect my own game… if someone wants to enlarge his epeen by spending money on uber items (alot obviously) then its his problem 🙂

  9. I mentioned this topic to a friend today, regarding the idea that blizzard could create items just to sell off for profits.  His response was, “They already will be creating items out of thin air- its called running a game that spawns items.”

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