The Ironborn #4: On the Death of the Diablo 3 Auction Houses

You’ve probably heard the news. Simply put, almost no one expected Blizzard to kill the DiabloWikiAuction Houses.

The response on the forums has been a mix of praise for Blizzard, cynicism toward the return of trading sites, and confessions from players that – while they enjoyed having the AHs – they are looking forward to getting their gear from monsters instead.

Last night, I asked the SF group I’m a part of what it means for the game…

“I think it’s going to bring back millions of people who got turned off by the Auction Houses,” SirRight said. “We’re bringing back what Diablo 3 is supposed to be about – finding and making your own items.”

We are fired up over how it will affect gameplay, and are crossing our fingers that it will shift the discussion around items back toward finding them. Of course, we also talked about the last time we played a Diablo game without an Auction House.

Trading: Then And Now

If we learned anything from Diablo 2, it’s that players will find a way to get what they want if its possible to do so. SirRight voiced an idea that we all shared: even without the AH, it will be tough for Blizzard to create a stable economy without binding items to some degree.

Trading is still fundamental to Diablo – and something the devs strongly support. Our feeling is that the devs will allow trading, but find ways to limit its influence on the economy. That would also apply to the console versions of the game, which will face similar economic issues as time goes by (to say nothing of how easy it is to duplicate items in those games).

We had previously discussed how ladders might affect the economy, and they seem more relevant now than before. If all items will be BoA during ladder seasons, as some have suggested, we felt it would be great to have an endless ladder season for SF players, since none of us really care to trade anyway.

BossDogg made a good point, though: we don’t know enough about how the game will work without the AH. Blizzard has assured players that we’ll have more info at some point.

Will Self-Found Feel Less Special?

Flux asked me in an e-mail if I thought SF players would feel bitter or less special as people return to finding items themselves.

Nah. Many of us have played SF in some form since Diablo 2. Back then, we were all solo, “live off the land,” Ironman, or what-have-you. Simply removing the Auction Houses won’t suddenly make everyone want to play self-found – though we’d love it if they gave it a shot.

The difference now is that we know there are others who like to find their own gear, and who will grind no matter how long it takes to find an item, because they love finding things themselves. We’ve learned that it’s fun to search for our own gear, together.

Still, it’s ironic that what we despise as SF players (the Auction Houses) ended up bringing us together. It galvanized us. While there still isn’t a true self-found mode in the game, per se, the end of the Auction Houses certainly seems like a good place to start.

Whatever Blizzard decides to do with trading, we hope it will create a community that is encouraging of others in finding their own gear, rather than critical of them for not having flipped, botted and wielded their credit cards to the point where the game is no fun.

Waterfiend is a writer and avid gamer who follows Diablo 3 news religiously. Say hello at his forum profile.

Tagged As: | Categories: Auction House, Diabloii.Net Columns, Ironborn


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  1. I will be glad to stop hearing “self-found” and “iron born” players stop talking about how their play style is superior.

    Seriously, nothing wrong with trading gear.

    “Millions of people turned off by the auction house”? Not buying it, sorry.

    • Do you really think Blizzard would remove not one, but BOTH Houses from the game if an extremely large (and when a game had 12 million sales, extremely large means millions) percentage of the game weren’t truned off by it? Now who’s wearing a tin-foil hat?

      • there is not one “research” done why so many people turned away. AHs are not even top three reason i would guess (1. problems with servers, 2. too hard inferno, 3. bad itemization where you didn’t get much of anything)

        • There was actually a survey Blizz e-mailed about D3 maybe a month ago. I remember it being along the lines of likes and dislikes about the game. In mine I bashed the AH and items every chance I could.

      • I think they would remove not one, but both AHs if a significant part of their customers (Korea) were mad about it.

    • If only someone had run a vote once the AH news broke to measure fan reactions? Oh wait…

      Right now that vote is at 73% support or strongly support the AH shutdown. I’m surprised by the figures, but they are what they are. Most people, rightly or wrongly, blame the AH for many of the game’s problems.

  2. Removal of AH will not bring -millions- back….

    I personally think the console loot is too frequent and too good.

    Also, I hate forum trading.

    • For my part, I’m glad to hear your perspective about loot being “too frequent and too good.” I’m just hoping it’s a console thing.

      It would feel insulting if Blizzard’s solution to “everyone finds everything they want easily on the AH” simply becomes “everyone finds everything they want after playing a few hours in the game.”

      Hoping that doesn’t happen. Hoping that they find a good solution for trading, for those who enjoy it.

      • So you think they are just making it a console thing? I mean, maybe they are. Right now, the AH supporters are holding their hats as they bow their heads in defeat. But I have a box of tissues ready for when you all start saying “hey, everyone has 350K DPS. What the…!?”. See me a month after xpac release. And for the record there would be nothing wrong with having a GAH for mats and gems and perhaps even items especially given the “ironborn” jackoffs who as stated in the article above “yeah its cool that we showed the AH people who is boss but maybe there was some usefulness to it”. The sad part of this is the parallel that is going on IRL with the way we are trying to get along as a country (in USA). Its this either/or, all or nothing approach to everything. Balance and choice is the key to life.

        • I’m sorry jackoffs may have been harsh. but unless you bind everything then the game is not pure.

          • No worries, man. A lot of people are nervous about how this will affect trading, so I can understand people feeling on-edge.

            Everyone seems to think SF people are happy with this decision. But all we really wanted was a mode of gameplay (and a community) insulated from the AH and the culture of buy-sell-flip it created. As far as we were concerned, people could keep their damn AH lol.

            So, in the end, it almost feels like we don’t have a horse in this race – there still isn’t a SF mode, and people will still find ways to trade.

        • Why would you or anyone else care if someone else had 350k DPS.

          There are people right now that have high DPS numbers – is that insulting or somehow threatening?

          I don’t see why or how someone else’s accumulation of gear is of any import to anyone else.

      • “everyone finds everything they want easily on the AH” is a reach.
        After some hundred hours playing, I still didnt have what i wanted. Why? Because I didnt use RMAH, I didn’t “play” the gold AH, and I never got a big-valuable drop, just mediocre stuff. Yet I was drooling over the phat loot in the AH.

        Now that they are removing the AH, what is the difference between PC and Console version? Nothing, except menus and controlls. Why should loot be any different?

        • I think my comments were more in the hope that the game will be more like D2 in drop rates. All I was saying is I don’t want them to overdo it to the point where the game gets dumbed down. Itemization sucks, yes, but pushing the needle too far in the other direction would be just as bad.

    • i disagree on the drop rate. its perfect in my opinion. you always feel like a drop is around the corner.

      that said, it is completely possible to go quite a while on console without a legendary drop. Just today I had at least an hour long period of no legendaries.

      It is also possible to have 2 legendaries drop within 5 minutes of each other.

      For some of us that can’t play all day, it does feel like it takes a bit of time to get from one MP to the next.

      The question now is how do you extend the end game? Getting to MP10 (master v) too quickly is definitely not good. But this is so very complicated. The difficulty with developing Diablo is that players want 2 conflicting things. They want difficulty but they also want killing speed. What I’ve seen the streamers do is play on the most efficient difficulty level and never take a challenge while playing. Would they then complain that its too easy? Right now its possible to play on easy mode long enough to suddenly jump to master v and make it look easy. Does that need to be stopped? Should loot to get you from one difficulty to the next only drop in the preceding difficulty level?

      When D3 came out, it was insanely difficult to get from one act to the other. Each act was a gear check. Then they came out with MP levels and also tweaked item drops. (largely due to player feedback) The game then became challenging to get thru MP levels. (if you didn’t use the AH) On console, I’ve seen streamers that beat UBERS on Master V on their 8th or 9th day playing. But they also played 10 hours or so a day. I’m able to play Master 1 now but its not super efficient. I for one enjoy keeping it a challenge. It’s going to take me longer as a result to get thru the MP levels as I’m going to see fewer good drops per hour.

      Is this broken or isn’t it? Should play style be forced? Should players be forced to pay their dues thru each difficulty setting? I’m not sure what I think. But that is really the debate isn’t it.

      Anyway, I still think the drop rate is perfect on console. It keeps me playing with that excitement of knowing a drop could come at any moment and not suck. Ya there will be a ceiling and I’d love to see that debated out and a perfect solution developed.

      • OMG an hour without a legendary drop!!!!…PC your lucky to get 1 or 2 in an 5 or 6 hour game session…I don’t see what the big deal is about the AH…so the f what some people don’t mind buying gold to speed gear a toon via the RMAH. Too bad the whiners once again make it worse for every1. Some of us have jobs and cant play 16hours a day to “grind” our loot.

  3. I only see removing the AH as half of the necessary steps. I don’t agree the (new) devs necessarily see trading as fundamental to Diablo. What they keep saying is that it is more fun to find items by killing monsters than other means. That could very well include trading.

    Quite simply, they have to make the best items in the game only obtainable by personally going out and getting them. Trading can still exists but only for secondary items, reagents and what not. If you can trade–even for items that you can take to the mystic and make best in slot–then we return to the horrible days of chat spam and what not.

    If they can remove the AH, they can remove trading as a means of getting best in slot items. They have to.

    Remember this team is not afraid of making big changes. People thought they would limit PermaWrath Barbs and PermaArchon Wizards but they out right removed them. (My guess is the lack of CM from the mined data and the appearance of several new passives means CM is also just simply removed from the game.) Trading is next.

    • You make a good point, Timesink. I wrote this before listening to the podcast last night. I think striking a fair balance between allowing trading for the less common items, and making the hard-to-obtain ones BoA, would satisfy a lot of people.

  4. I’ll be back if the redesign of the loot system is good. A full inventory of Ilevel 63 rares with a 1/1000 chance of getting something decent just doesn’t give me the same buzz as of seeing something you know is godly drop.

    I stopped trading when I played D2 pre-1.13 simply due to the amount of dupes and I don’t mind the AH in D3 at all. I’m not a huge fan of the RMAH, but I don’t think implementing an ingame solution for one of the arguably most popular aspects of the game was a bad idea.

  5. “SirRight voiced an idea that we all shared: even without the AH, it will be tough for Blizzard to create a stable economy without binding items to some degree.”

    Funny, SirRight is 100% wrong. Binding anything now is the death knell of actually playing. Without the AH, drops can be tuned to drop more often and better (should be static properties on legendary items except primary/class specific affixes, but those are static just change based on the primary).

    If all items are tradable, with a large gold sink (gambling/mystic), no BoA, and legendary items being good and known all the time, then the economy will actually flourish.

    Moreover, rares need to be BETTER than legendary items in terms of raw power, dps, defense, thus they are the outliers that are sought after while legendary items fill the gaps and niche builds by their unique affixes, procs, bonuses, and affixes which cannot be found on that slot on a rare.

    This will create an economy of Legendary Items + Gems whereby a price point can be set for them that is relatively accurate and only changes when patches occur changing builds/items slightly. Then rares are the sought after items, these are more variable in price, and can fetch amazing amounts of legendary items, or gold, or gems, or crafting materials, etc. due to their ability to truely be amazing.

    In short, bring back Diablo 2. It worked, still works, and is how you actually create an enticing game where people find lots of gear, uniques/legendaries, pick up rares. The only other issue is the scaling of uniques up to max level, but that is less of an issue in D3 than say Marvel Heroes due to not having a rating system in D3.

    Anyways, SirRight is SirWrong on that concept as is all of Diablo.incgamers staff if they think BoA is now a good idea for any items in the game.

  6. To further clarify, it isn’t Blizzard’s job to create an economy, it is the players’ ie the buyers and sellers.

    Without having a central area to sell (AH) with no regulations (any idiot can post anything for any price) it makes the economy turn into a giant cluster of fail. Whereas on a forum there will be those who understand prices, and can determine the actual value of items based on many of them being sold.

    That is what needs to happen as it is difficult to flip items for huge profits because anyone who isn’t completely ignorant will check the price of their item before they try to sell it.

  7. ironborn lol. first off, it’s ironman not *ironborn you newfies. second, ironman is nothing more but a response to cheating in D1. raymonds diablo trainer? 255/255 staff of apocalypse? king’s bastards sword of haste etc? diablo 1, by design, was ironman. stop acting like you’re special. ain’t noting special about it. trading was always a part of diablo.

    now, i’m ll about getting rid off AH, but shut the fuck up about this ironpoo nonsense.

    *what is dead may never die!

    • You forgot GPOW (Godly Plate of The Whale). Used to use a trainer just so I could multi-play without getting PK’ed (no townkill, tyvm). Many moons ago.

  8. Bring back server lists; chat channels, devaluise gold, bring back consumable sinks (sojs) gems, runes) for trade, problem solved!

  9. \……what Diablo 3 is supposed to be about – finding and making your own items.”

    A bazillion times THIS!

  10. The console highlighted the fact that there’s no real reason why the game can’t have an offline mode. The real subject matter now is why is the game still online only now that the RMAH is being dismantled? Personally I can’t see a single reason.

    • You can’t really be this naive, can you? The game was hacked and pirated BEFORE IT WAS EVEN RELEASED solely BECAUSE it has offline capabilities. Stop clamoring for offline in the Diablo series; it isn’t EVER going to happen again. The benefits HEAVILY outweigh the negatives. Blizzard loses revenue and the online players get screwed by rampant hacking/dupes. All one needs to do is look at the state of affairs in D2 to see why it isn’t ever coming back.

  11. I’ve tried both. I initially started D3 upon release self found. It was a disaster for me … I felt that I was spinning my wheels and eventually succumbed to the AH. I took that all the way. All my Soft core Characters are now fully twinked.

    I recently started HC totally self found. but, times are very different. the new patches since release have changed the field and I have enjoyed self found mode.

    However, despite the abuse of the AH, it was better than the old ways of trading in D2. That was a nightmare I dont’ care to repeat.

    additionally … I fear that the biggest problem of D3 will soon be that there’s just simply not enough room to hold all the gear that we’ll need to hold onto longer. If you think it’s tough to decide what to keep now … just wait till the options to store it become real.

    • I’m right there with you on the early difficulty of the game – SF pre-patch 1.0.3 was brutal. It wasn’t even fun, more of a statement against the AHs. But as time went by and the patches rolled in, like you said, SF become a lot more feasible.

      Flux was saying that in the console version, there are “fountains of loot.” I didn’t really get that impression while playing it, but I think the concern of “too much of a good thing” is real.

      So, what do you think they’ll replace the AH with? I’ve never felt the need to trade, but I know a lot of folks enjoy it. I’m curious to know how they’ll resolve the problem of 3rd party trading sites.

      • Considering that clans/guilds have already been datamined, I’m eager to see what improvements to the trading/social systems they reveal at Blizzcon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like trading posts, or being able to trade IN chat channels, via a trade box like steam.

        Thankfully loot 2.0 won’t be anything like the console loot (despite what many naive people would believe), as the longevity of that game doesn’t really go over 50 hours. Being able to balance “noticeable progression” without making it so easy it gets boring after a few hours is always a challenge they face (well, they didn’t on the console, so I’m sure they were happy about that).

        • Really great comments – thanks for joining in the discussion!

          Gosh, you make a really good point – I didn’t even think about the clan / guild functions that they’ve found. Yes, I can totally see creating a small guild with a “trading post,” like you suggested. Just think – you could play with a member of each class, and any gear you found for a different one, you could put up for trading. Hopefully, that would get rid of chat spam, to a degree.

          And it’s true, the console is supposed to be more of a casual experience. Hopefully, Loot 2.0 will make it easier to get loot, but not too easy.

  12. Hello Waterfiend 😉

    And NO, we’ll not all go by self-found but resort to 3rd party auction sites instead 🙁
    They’ll be jumping in the air when Blizz announced the AH shutdown…

    • Yeah, I didn’t think everyone would be excited to go SF. I mean, we love playing this way, but we’re pragmatists – we know it’s not for everyone. In his podcast, Flux was like “we’re all SF now.” I didn’t share that view – simply put, most people love to trade.

      I have some confidence that Blizzard will find a way to let people trade for those who enjoy it. I think it was JuniorMint on the podcast who said that, if Blizzard is closing the AHs, it’s because they have a -better- idea in mind for trading.

      So now, the question on everyone’s mind is, what could be better than the AH for trading, while not allowing people to abuse it? I think that’s something we all want to know…

  13. QUOTE

    So, in the end, it almost feels like we don't have a horse in this race - there still isn't a SF mode, and people will still find ways to trade.

    And because it’s too short – This again.

  14. QUOTE

    If only someone had run a vote once the AH news broke to measure fan reactions? Oh wait...

    Right now that vote is at 73% support or strongly support the AH shutdown. I’m surprised by the figures, but they are what they are. Most people, rightly or wrongly, blame the AH for many of the game’s problems.

    …What does that thread have to do with it?

  15. So are they going to create a gambling NPC/vendor…otherwise gold will once again be completely worthless…I for 1 appreciated the fact that gold had a use in D3. And why do we all have to be SF nerds…seems like you all found a way to geek out on gear without using the big bad AH.

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