Jay Wilson Says the Diablo 3 Auction House Hurt the Game

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 DiabloWikisoon™.

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 DiabloWikiDiablo 3 console features, does it seem possible that the Diablo 3 expansion might appear with much better drop rates and do away with the DiabloWikiAuction 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 DiabloWikiGAH went away and only the DiabloWikiRMAH remained? Chaos and outrage?)

  • We have a quick ‘n’ dirty poll up on our Facebook page asking if you’d like both AHs removed, just the RMAH or neither. Vote for what you think should happen.
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108 thoughts on “Jay Wilson Says the Diablo 3 Auction House Hurt the Game

  1. “that only a small percentage of players would use it”

    Did they actually play their own game past level 60? Or even to level 60? As far as I’m concerned, the drop rate of good items tells the whole story.

    • Not really, they didn’t. End game testing is almost always skimpy to nonexistent with games, since they’re constantly tweaking all the low and mid level stuff and thus can’t really test high end options without the stability.

      They discussed this previously in regards to the Monk’s OWE; no one much used that passive during testing since it wasn’t possible to get 5 or 6 or 8 items all with good stats and the same type of elemental res. Thus OWE didn’t seem very impactful during testing, but with the AH it became all but mandatory.

      • Which by itself if rather insane.
        How can you not test your game with theoretical high quality items (as in not found but created for testing purposes only) – especially a game like Blizzards with are being tested for years.

        • Bang for buck, obviously. Flux summed it up: in order to test the high-level stuff, the rest of the game content needs to be stable/frozen. If you’re holding the game back for 2-3 months of high-level testing, when it is otherwise complete, obviously the fans will be going nuts and the bean counters will ask “why are you holding on to a complete game? ship it!”.

        • they tested the game plenty, they just didn’t text the AH much, not in a practical sense anyway. the AH was thrown in at the last minute, and they tested it’s functionality, but not it’s impact. Blizzard really didn’t consider the globalization of trade that the AH effects.

      • I could be wrong on this, but I recall statements at blizzcon discussing the AH and everything said gave the impression that they expected quite a large amount of the playerbase to use it. Jay’s claim doesnt match up at all with how blizzard spoke about the AH as d3 was getting closer to release.

        Either way I’m sure the beta proved this idea that only a fraction would use the AH as a false assumption. I would venture to guess that at the very least 50 percent of people playing the beta used the AH at least once and thats up to what lvl 13 ? and sk?

        • The problem there is that the AH was not made available in the beta. Even if it had been, I think Blizzard’s nearsightedness with the impact of the AH stems from their lack of consideration of a scaling economy. There’s simply no way they could have tested the AH in the context of millions of players buying and selling.

          I hadn’t really thought about it before reading this article, but the idea of seriously reshaping the role the AH plays in the game via an expansion would be nice. How best to do that is anyone’s guess right now though.

          • Edit: Now that I think about it, I guess the AH did have limited functionality very late in the beta, but my point remains the same – without involving a considerable user base, I don’t think it would have been possible to truly determine the way the AH would function in practice after release.

      • Please the Auction house didnt make OWE mandatory… the utterly crappy selection of garbage passive skills the monk has is to blame. Easily the worst group of passives of all classes in the game, making OWE such an easy choice for the vast majority of monk players.

    • Judging from how the game was balanced in general after Normal difficulty, it seems safe to say that they didn’t play their game much at lvl 60 pre-release.

      They have also confirmed a long time ago, that AH wasnt part of playtesting. I remember something about Inferno taking long to progress thorugh for their internal testers, since their play-testers didn’t trade and pretty much only played self-found.

      • Yes clearly thats why the beginning and mid games are so enthralling?

        Keep in mind that bosses in nightmare and hell still do not even drop rare items unless you are lottery-winner style lucky (and hooray a rare!) and that they didnt in normal either until a couple of patches ago.

    • I have kind of a different theory. I think they did playtest the late game and knew full well that the AH would both be a required element to advancing and also that it would negatively affect gameplay as Jay put it.

      Is it really so hard to believe that they consciously allowed a negative feature into a franchise in order to create a new and continuous stream of profit? You would have to be pretty naive to think a company like this would sacrifice profit for gameplay.

      Remember that there is nothing stopping them from lying to you… It’s not illegal. If you understand that then things will make more sense. Look at Jay’s history and see if you can find instances of him coming out against the AH and directing his time toward fixing those gameplay issues he mentions while he was still on the project.

      • “Is it really so hard to believe that they consciously allowed a negative feature into a franchise in order to create a new and continuous stream of profit?”

        Only for fanboys. You hit the nail on the head there, this has been Blizzards mantra of game design since 2004.

        • Your comment is very shortsighted. Any mediocre business analyst would see the gaping flaw business-wise in adding a toxic feature such as the AH – even if it provided a continuous stream of revenu. This feature nearly single-handedly ruined the core D3 experience (itemization aside). The long term effects not only render the short term gains as negligible, but it affected their image.

          It hurt Blizzard’s reputation. It alienated the fan base. We don’t even know what the potential profit COULD have been because they didn’t deliver the experience fans expected.

          • Wrong! They know what they doing. In Titan we going to see something similar, trust me. Diablo 3 is being a test for many systems. First for console, now they learn about a auction system, what it impact in a game. Nobody has the experience they learned. Now they can release future games on something more polished.

      • Tbh, the money they could gain from RMAH is nothing compared to what they could lose from hurting their own brand too much

        • I’m sure they considered exactly what you just said.

          Will this move hurt our image so much that it makes the additional short term profit not worth it?

          The answer to that question (of course) was no.

          Gamers have a short term memory even when their favorite franchises get bought out and gutted. Ask EA if they are hurting for money right now. Ask them how ruining multiple gaming franchises has hurt their image so much that they are no longer able to turn a profit. Clearly they are still alive and kicking despite the games they have ruined.

          I will refuse to buy it… but Blizzard will still sell millions of expansion pack pre-orders even if they fail to deliver on every single promise made from here to then. They will continue to turn a profit on the AH regardless of what happens. Why? Because we let them. Craptivision has learned well from EA and they know that we are desperate enough to continue to buy regardless of quality or how much we complain on the forums.

          The only thing they are really concerned about right now as a company is piracy not quality or how volatile the forums become.

          • Hurting? No. In deline? Yes.

            Their corporate policies and lack of consumer understanding is, in fact, making an impact on their profits.

            http://www.joystiq.com/2012/05/09/activision-blizzard-q1-2012-financials-1-17-billion-in-net-rev/ (Blizzard in 42% profit decline since 2011)

            Analysts cannot fully predict the future, but they grossly mistook some variables. The problem here is that we’re talking about something that is very difficult to measure, since there is no tangible unit we can apply to the net impact Diablo had for the company.

            It’s a complex situation, but people will not forget EA’s shortcomings, nor Blizzard’s. People have short memories, yes. But the internet has proven a formidable beast in keeping the record straight. (i.e. EA’s Simcity backlash had a ripple effect, recalling Spore and other DRM failures that drastically effected their profits)

            So while some of what you said may be true, I don’t think you’re presenting a good analysis of the whole story.

          • EA is probably the worst example you could’ve used, given that their CEO recently resigned *because* they are doing poorly. “Ruining multiple gaming franchises” for quick cash grabs is evidently not a successful strategy.

          • I hope you guys are right and the consumer backlash hit’s these companies right in the bottom line. I’m not sure if the recent downturn is enough to make them see the light. It might just be due to a poor economy rather than a consumer revolt against said company. Then again we could be in for another gaming dark age like Atari went through will all those crap releases before it died. I guess time will tell. Perhaps the Ouya will save us?

    • The apparent “conclusions” this design team came to completely blow my mind. They are incredibly short-sighted and naive and/or just flat out lying.

      So first Wilson states that they didn’t think anyone but a small fraction would use the AH (even though in beta I’m sure feedback showed nearly everyone using it that played more than one class) then Wilson drops this gem

      “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.”

      So let me get this straight Jay. Item structure and rewards were designed AFTER the game was released and blizzard saw the almost universal use of the AH…

      What Jay is saying doesn’t add up at all. Maybe it’s a sly way of admitting that itemization was designed around the AH to turn a profit first and foremost while the actual game experience was not the priority. Jay uses the incredibly stupid statement that blizzard only expected a small percentage of players to use the AH as a way to couch the unpleasant yet obvious conclusion that D3 ultimately, despite original good intentions, was compromised by monetary incentives over quality gameplay.

      • Sometimes I feel some people don’t live in the real world: the real world is made up of real people. Real people have real lives that lead to where they end up in life. Do you really think a group of people who are so passionate about computer game design and programming that they have risen to work for the top computer gaming studio in the world, would sacrifice everything they believe in to turn a profit for their shareholders?

        That happens for people who work in basically two places: politics and business. Generally: where power is in play. People who design computer games don’t make decisions like you suggest, and if they made them, they certainly wouldn’t defend them for as long and vehemently as Blizzard’s developers.

        My general impression is so many people have become disillusioned with the business world and global/national politics in general that they believe everyone is genuinely a bad person. Work for a real company and you realize most companies are made up by good people doing their job. A small fraction might be power-hungry, money-motivated selfish individual, but most of them are just like you.

        So do you really believe a development team as large as Blizzard had on Diablo 3 could deliberately sabotage their own game to turn a small profit for shareholders they don’t even know? (it isn’t like Blizzard is an employee-owned company)

        The world you live in, in your mind, is very, very sad.

          • Malentros you’re completely misguided on what the ‘real world’ is…its not that they are ‘bad’ people it’s that they are practical people who want money. The real world is about getting doing what your boss tells you and getting paid as much as you can, that is what blizzard has done. They have sacrificed the creative element for the practical money element.

          • Right.

            “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.”

            Jay Wilson must be imaginary, how dare he point out that Blizzard’s monetary incentive for the AH hurt the game and was not a good decision. After all in the real world, Companies and employees don’t sacrifice the better good for a chance at profit margins. No way that happens in the real world.

        • You must have poor comprehension because Jay Wilson clearly states that the design around the AH and item/rewards was influenced more by monetary incentive than good gameplay.

          Thanks for the tripe, but maybe you should spend more time working on understanding what’s already been said.

          • That is not what he said. Reread it. The subject for the sentence in question is the playerbase not Blizzard. Money/gold became the game reward system, rather than items and gameplay (for the playerbase). I can’t tell if you’re deliberately misunderstanding the intent of his message to prove your point, or that you actually believe he’s saying they sacrificed item design for money. Either way it’s pretty darn cynical.

          • You might want to take your own advice, chimpomon. Thank you for embarassing yourself like that, though; certainly made me chuckle.

        • Blizzard is a business… a publicly traded business.

          They make games to make money.

          Sure they have to be genuinely fun, but the bullet point on the white board about the AH making revenues is one that no one heavily argued against.

        • Let’s imagine for a moment that we live under the structure of capitalism. The businesses within it are expected to be motivated by and structured to achieve profit. The actual structure of each of these entities can vary in a manner where ethics play a larger or smaller part in operations. By and large, it’s not the people in said businesses which are directly responsible for any sort of deplorable conduct, but the structure they (we) operate under and the corporate hierarchy.

          They are companies like Interface Flor, and then there are companies like Monsanto. There are many exceptions to your generalizations, people may blow that out of proportion, but they have every right to be critical of a businesses practices. In fact, consumer criticism is critical.

          I’m not saying this instance is one way or the other, but you completely neglected fact that most people in a company aren’t calling the shots. Personally, I think all these issues in D3 just arise from an extremely convoluted development.

  2. I guess it’s something they admit it…

    Mistakes are a learning experience, just a shame it should be learned through Diablo 3.

    The only solution, if they wont remove AHs, probably is to gradually introduce Bind on pickup to all the high quality items or at least “non-AH tradeable” (which I doubt would fix much now that people have got the taste of trading).

  3. I posed the questions rhetorically for conversation, but I am very curious to see what people think. I didn’t use the GAH at all for months after launch, but finally just got sick of my first 3 chars sitting in Act One Inferno, too weakly-geared to advance adequately. The game could be done all self found, but it took a lot of patience and grinding easy monsters to find the 1/10000000 drop that would actually upgrade you sufficiently to make a real difference.

    The game is easier now than it was back then, and will get easier still with improved legendaries and item drops coming soon. That said, my first HC lvl 60 just dinged with a Monk, and the minute I hit 60 I spent about 2m total gold (out of the 2.5m I’d amassed almost entirely from GAH gear sales while leveling up) to upgrade every single item slot considerably, all courtesy of bottom feeding in the GAH. Without the GAH, that char would never have gotten to level 60, and wouldn’t have any real hope to improve or advance further now that he has.

    • Inferno wasn’t too hard to clear in 1.0.4 playing self-found, single pass, with just a bit of luck.

      Right now, you can easily push to probably MP4 playing self-found by playing a few hours a week.

      They really should’ve just added offline single-player, or an ironborn mode. Even if they don’t want to redo the game architecture at this point, an ironborn mode with PS3-esque droprates would still be a good addition — I only ask that any such mode come with a one-time transfer for characters that haven’t equipped any AH-obtained items (or a one-time transfer for everyone if their code doesn’t allow them to check for that) so that I don’t have to be forced to reroll to play it even though I haven’t actually used the AH for myself.

      We do not sow.

    • I didn’t mind the initial inferno difficulty, because it’s what we were promised, but I did think the item segregation paired with low drop rates and incredibly low chances of rolling a useful rare were too much. Once ilvl 63 items started dropping in act 1/2 (1.03 I think), the game was really playable. I’d say generally each patch has made the game better more than it hasn’t. I immediate saw the futility in crafting and trying to self-find items, but I’m really bad at saving gold. I started using the GAH as soon as I could, but unfortunately I had been salvaging all my items from the get go and had very little gold. Initially, it was hard to break even on gold when doing inferno because we were dying so much. After the repair bills were lowered and the difficulty of inferno lowered, I managed to buy some thorns items and had my witch doctor capable of doing anything on monster power 0-3.

  4. I don’t think that the AH “per se” is a bad thing. I really like the item browsing comfort, and that I can put my stuff there without spending hours and hours in a dreaded “old school” trade chat (as in PoE these days, for example). Even the RMAH is OK imo, you must not use it.

    I personally would prefer that they go much more crafting now, with rare to extremely rare materials dropping in the game, which can also be traded via the AH. The AH should become a trading center for expensive crafting mats (for account bound items).

    • I don’t think the AH in essence is a bad thing either. I rather like it. The problem comes with 1. Having no ladder system to reset the economy and 2. designing the itemization/rewards around the AH. There are a number of ways the AH could have been used appropriately and been in line with the idea of ease of access/avoiding black market etc without hurting the game. Blizzard went the way of complete monetary incentive and here we have Jay basically admitting it.

      • Sure, the AH is tied directly to the ingame drops to maintain a stable economy. I’m pretty confident, though, the we’ll see the ladder(s) back “soon” (not at last because they and the races are the driving factor in PoE).

    • That is, if they changed the drop rates so that the game wasn’t completely built around the AH. My first character didn’t find a unique item until he was in Act 3 inferno, and it sucked. I spent more time ID’ing full inventories of ilvl63 garbage that immediately went to the vendor than I did playing the actual game.

      • Of course you can, but the economy is affected whether or not you participate in AH trading.

        The best solution is to make a third game mode when creating a character. Softcore, Hardcore, or AH-less.

        That way, people who want to play an AH-driven game can, and those who want a separate economy can co-exist together without the AH.

        • Something else I think people overlook is how ‘personal drops’ has effected the game. In D2 there was one drop per monster and a click-fest to see who got the item. So, in say a 4 person game in d2 if a monster dropped 4 items it was 1 per person. In d3 in a 4 person game each person gets 4 items for a total of 16 and 4 per person. This means that drop rates have to be reduced by a factor of 4 to equal the influx of items of d2 adversely effecting personal drops. I for one miss the click-fest. If nothing else it showed you that ‘that’ item does in fact drop whether you got it or not.

        • What economy?

          If you’re talking about the relative value of items, that’s obviously not a concern to someone who doesn’t use the AH. If you’re talking about drop rates, they’re not affected by the AH so that’s not really a concern either. If you’re talking about the introduction of stupid shit like the Marquise gems aimed to act as a goldsink to frequent AH users, I’m willing to concede that point even though I don’t consider paying 20+ million for 4 more mainstat on a gem a particularly compelling argument.

        • No, the drop rates were tuned for a player who would never use the AH. http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/6317360/6317360#dropratesah

          What the AH really has done is skewed your perception of what a “good” item actually is, since it’s made the best items far more accessible to you. Most likely it has also allowed you to get ahead of the itemization curve, to the point where you only consider the top 0.01% of items actually “good”. I don’t use the AH and I find good items pretty often, but they’re probably not the quadfecta-in-every-slot you’re thinking of.

    • Why can’t they have a server cluster available for those who don’t want to use it?

      You should have a box to tick, much like the Hardcore check box, whether you want the AH available to your character or not.

      • Because it further fractures the community. Not that I’m against it, but that’s the biggest worry I’m sure.

  5. whatever, all that matters to me is they give me a nice clean place to sell virtual items. nothing beats working part-time in your house pants 😀

  6. I still seem to manage to disagree with Jay. I still don’t believe there is anything fundamentally wrong with the AH or RMAH. What’s wrong is the game’s itemization. If itemization wasn’t completely broken then the AH would work just fine. With such a narrow route to gearing/builds (or lack of) there never was fun item rewards for the AH to damage.

  7. Jay sounds like he’s reading from a script there, Activision Blizzard knew full well what they were doing here, exploiting the Blizzard Cattle with a popular brand-name franchise was their only objective here and the ramifications of the RMAH/AH were clear for all to see.

    Players were calling Blizz out on this and patiently trying to explain it to them as if they were children. Considering the way they are now attempting to feign ignorance and the fact we TOLD THEM THIS WOULD HAPPEN years before the game even went live… ‘children’ isn’t very far off the mark.

    Greedy, arrogant, spoiled children.

  8. The AH is nice but could certainly use (more) improvements; however, because of how free it is to use, it’s created significant problems. Primarily, because of the AH, Blizzard has excessively nerfed the drops in the game. They’ve improved drops in several ways, but there’s definitely been more damage done than good.

    For example, treasure goblins, purple/unique monsters, and resplendent chests. Why where these nerfed? Because they were too lucrative. In a way this makes sense, because you don’t want people to find good items too fast and get bored of the game quickly, but what is the effect of their change? There was a time where opening a resplendent chest yielded just about no rewards besides a couple blues and some potions. Normal chests and vases were also nerfed into the ground to the point that they still aren’t worth opening. Purple/unique monsters are a nuisance and often simply skipped because it’s unlikely for them to drop something good.

    Basically, because the AH multiplied the accessibility of all drops by a huge factor, Blizzard saw it necessary to antiquate features of the game to prevent people from gearing out too quickly.

    In other failures of D3 (a game I thoroughly enjoy despite its flaws), the elimination of boss runs has not made the game any better. I wish I was incentivized to play an act from start to finish, but there are so many deadzones in the game where few monsters and no elites are found. Then there’s the annoying cutscenes and in-game chat that takes too long to skip. Lastly, bosses aren’t worth killing for the exp or the drops. Sure they can drop nice stuff, but they’re generally no better than killing an elite pack, so why spend 1-2 minutes killing an act boss when you could find 3-4 elite packs in that time? Instead of baal runs, we have act 3 runs that consist of running the same zones in the same order repeatedly. It would also be nice if the non-elite monsters were worth more. Fighting elite packs is fun and all, but skipping monsters to fight elites as much as possible takes away from the game. Exp runs in D2 were mostly about killing as many monsters as possible, and the boss packs were just a bonus. Baal runs were good because they were super-condensed boss packs, but there were times when people did cows, bloody foothills, chaos sanc, and other areas that weren’t focused purely on bosses. I don’t mind the current state, but I think lessening the importance of elites when monster density is increased would be a good thing.

    • If blizzard wasn’t so lazy with some of the innovative ideas and alternatives to Boss runs I think the endgame would have been great, though they still should keep the boss runs regardless because players should choose how they want to play it. I still can’t believe they thought the random events, as they are, were good enough to ship the game. Sooo much more needed to be done with those and blizzard hyped it up, but it was and still is a dreadfully underdeveloped system. Act 4 as well is simply awful, there could have been random rifts that ported you to all kinds of dungeons and to hell and a myriad of places that simply would have made it a blast to play.

      It just seems that there is no real set visionary leading the game (I’m not holding my breath for Travis Day either though I would love to be wrong on this)and instead of really hammering out the good ideas and making them truly wonderful, as they should be, it’s Polish the idea/system to where it works in the basest of forms and simply “feels good” and quit there. I can’t tell if Blizz is just really fucking lazy or stupid. Judging by all the other shit they have done with the game it seems lazy. Could the paragon system be any less inspiring and inventive? There you have a system that could actually be “awesome” and add the depth etc by giving your character choices, like i dunno, rune ranks that already existed pre-release. Instead its the basest of forms a simple MF/GF and nearly meaningless stat increase. Pretty fucking lazy.

      • I disagreed with your earlier reply but I can say nearly everything you say here has gone through my head too, and I definitely agree with your assessment of basically poor implementation of potentially really great ideas.

      • I have to disagree with a lot of this. The MF/GF from paragon is largely meant to deter the swapping of MF gear when killing bosses by making MF on gear obsolete over time. More choices would be fine, but most people don’t want permanent choices, and adding anything more complex than paragon would take a lot of work. The paragon system was probably a piece of cake to implement and test.

        I also think the random events are generally pretty cool but ruined by having terrible rewards. Jar of souls is fun and a nice break from just spinning through everything looking for the next elite pack, but for the time invested you get a bit shafted.

        I like the game a lot, but I think it’s a bit behind D2 in having a fun and successful multiplayer. I do key runs and infernal machine runs with friends and it works well, but for simply farming rares and legendaries it makes more sense to play alone. By myself I don’t have to worry about lost efficiency because someone is looting while the other is killing, or because one person sped ahead and is now soloing monsters with 50% bonus health while the other person is just running to catch up. D2 had the same rushed pace when you look at chaos runs, cow runs, etc, but the areas seemed a lot bigger and more dense, and you felt like you were fighting with people even if they weren’t directly beside you.

        D3 feels more like playing a 2d platformer on a single screen where one person is running against the wall to move forward to continue the level while the other person is running against the wall to move backwards because there’s an item on the ground they can’t reach. I’m no saying D2 was any more cooperative; it was certainly competitive, even moreso because of how exp was rewarded. The big issue is that d3 zones are generally pretty linear, and it doesn’t seem like exp is shared across a big enough area considering monster density. If you’re lagging behind someone you’re playing with, you’re basically going to be running through his wake of corpses. In d2, you could just head 15% off to either side and kill stuff he hasn’t gotten too yet.

  9. Why not simply add a “self-found” mode with increased drop rates? That, plus some fixes to the itemization+character customization and a simple ladder/race system would really help keep people interested in the game.

  10. Looking back at how late during production but, at the same time, how extremely thoroughly and ambitiously the auction house system was implemented into the game, you realize that it’s not at all a feature that Blizzard just threw in there to see what would happen. Given the magnitude of the system (and the way it translates into real money for them), they knew EXACTLY what they were doing there.

    Tricking the player into relying on the auction house is the very reason they decided that best-in-slot gear should contain those highly randomized Rare items and that Legendaries worked more like – again – highly randomized (D2) Crafted items rather than actual (static) Uniques. In the end, there can be no doubt that they wantonly risked (and succeeded) botching Diablo’s very core power/reward system in order to specifically promote auction house usage. And judging by their eternal dilatoriness right to this day in regards to adding more (half-)static crafting recipes, re-combining affixes back into more tangible item properties, or simply adding BoA to high-end items, they would never ever even consider cutting back on this ‘feature’ any further in any meaningful way.

    When D3’s former game director now publicly claims that the AH’s subversive impact on the game’s design and reception was not to be expected(/apprehended), his notion of truth must be either very contrary to reality or he never had the slightest clue of the game he was ‘directing’ there.

    • Exactly, I don’t think Jay is a stupid guy and honestly I feel, purely judging off his comments/ideas/and excitement of previous Blizzcons, that Jay was probably a great fit for lead developer. Before I get stoned for saying that I’d like anyone that disagrees to go back or reflect on his comments at the least 6 months Plus before release. The game sounded like it was pure gold. Honestly.

      How much of the Diablo 3 of 2010-2011 do we have? Its strikingly different. Yes Jay ultimately is the fall guy for most of went wrong despite wether he was really to be blamed, but I find it very difficult to believe Jay was the one responsible for a lot of the bad decisions that went into d3. Purely conjecture, but I think Jay gave too much room for the strike teams to come in and call for iterations and design changes. Whether that is because he felt those guys/gals were qualified to make those decisions or Blizzard gave deference to the wow strike team ( probably both ) seems to be irrelevant. The Jay Wilson of 2010 and 2011 wouldn’t have made d3 what it is. Of course I could be totally wrong since Jay does have a pretty arrogant attitude at times and apologetic track record for justifying the changes, but if I was in his position I would probably value my job enough to do the same.

      Anyway, I think Jay’s admittance of the monetary incentive for the AH and itemization/rewards is probably him coming clean vaguely without getting fired. He’s smart enough to know the BS he gave about blizzards expectations of the AH and how itemization and rewards came after release makes no sense with reality. So that’s Jay either giving a couched apology to the community without getting fired and trying to say it wasn’t all him or Jay being an insufferable arrogant prick tripping over his own apologetics for why Diablo 3 is the way it is. We likely will never get any closer to a real story on this until someone in the know leaves blizzard/retires/is fired. It’s all speculation and it’s more fun than playing d3.

      Tl;DR Jay isn’t dumb and he probably consciously chose how he worded things as an apology.

      • Agreed. I’ve been saying this for the longest time.

        The WoW Strike team is what ruined D3 for what it should have been.

  11. “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.”

    Even in deep reflection of his failings, he still doesn’t know what drove Diablo 2 players to keep playing. Kill Diablo? *Jerk off motion*


      • Self found items? What game did you play? There were a lot of people making cash-money on D2, always were, still are.

  12. dII did absolutely fine with no AH and if they want no fraud or stuff like that there would be others ways around it. i mean besides rollback dupes there is no such duping in dIII. what jay wilson failed to understand is that the majority wanted a dII in 2012 not a major overhaul with lacking features or scrapped identification marks. its also pardo and the other bunch at irvine who were not involved at creating diablo to begin with.

  13. The crux of the problem I’d the AH is primary in gearing up and not secondary.

    If we could farm act 1 for gear we need in act 2 we could get past the “wall”, same for farming act 2 to move to act 3. However it is set up to use the AH as the primary way to gear up to move forward.

    Implement some ways to move past the gear wall without using the the AH.
    Introduce drop rates and item levels that give a chance to move past.
    Introduce some cheapish crafting recipes that give some chance to move past the gear wall (not best in slot stuff) just so characters can farm act 3 without the use of AH.
    Make it so there is not such a huge disparity between a level 59 and level 60 item.
    Add better quest rewards.
    Put all the bosses in when farming, after the story is done.
    And damnit get rid of the bots.

    There are so many things that could have been done, but the AH would not have been primary.

    • Funny that a fundamental design decision for inferno creates a nearly mandatory reliance on the AH, which is working as intended. Yet we are to believe blizzard had no expectations for a Ah that reached use beyond a small percentage of players?

  14. Just more BS PR rhetoric.

    It’s my strong opinion that they knew exactly what they were doing with the AHs. It’s just way too convenient that so many game systems encourage AH use, for it to have been a coincidence. And, in nearly 11 months since release, we’re still staring at the same problems.

    It’s cute how the devs are playing the naive card, and pretending that they are just now becoming aware of D3’s glaring problems. And guess what? I’m sure all the problems will get fixed just in time for us to purchase the expansion. Pathetic.

  15. Implementing ladder system would reduce AH impact for the whole game. Ppl would still have comfort of exchanging items, but with having in mind that they become useles after year or os.

  16. I’m Just going to use the experience of one of my d3 bots to really show how fucked up the game is.

    I started botting this chap in inferno with 30k dps as a WW barb a week ago.
    keep in mind now, they have reworked legendaries 1 time over and done multiple adjustments in itemization since release.

    So here are my statistics.
    I am now Paragon 56
    I get roughly 530 Items dropped an hour
    100 Ilvl 63/hour, 130 ilvl 62/hour, 150 ilvl 61/hour
    .5 Legendaries/hour

    Zero upgrades for that barb. Z E R O. that’s 56 paragon levels for a 30k barb with NO UPGRADES.

    • This is really only partially the AH’s fault. The first other problem is that damage scaling is 40% primary stat and 50% critical hits. In order to get a significant dps upgrade, you need to get a weapon, amulet, ring, or gloves with crit chance and/or damage as well as your primary stat. 3 affixes out of a pool of ~20 is a pretty low chance, and they might also have low values.

      The second other problem is that dps scales even more with your stats in d3 than it did in d2. In both games, weapon dps is a critical factor, as in d2 if you weapon didn’t have ED it was basically worthless while STR and DEX didn’t do a whole lot to your damage per point. If you played a caster, you really only cares about +skills, +all skills, etc. Now because items didn’t scale up too drastically, a level 30 item may have actually been good for a level 70++.

      In d3 it’s a completely different story. A random blue armor at level 50 can have 10 times the strength of a level 30 item. That means that upgrading is highly dependent on you finding max ilvl items, and that getting a bad roll is a huge drop in value. The worst rolls on a unique item in d2 compared to the best rolls on the same item weren’t drastically different: you might have a 200 dps weapon vs a 300 dps weapon. In d3 by comparison, you could get a 200 dps weapon with no dex and crit or a 300 dps weapon with dex, a socket, and crit hit damage.

  17. Kinda a repost from an earlier podcast. Skip if you want, but I thought it was relevant to go over this again…

    Trading worked ok in D2 because it was difficult, time-consuming, and perilous. That drove a lot of people away from trading and towards just finding their own gear.

    Trading does NOT work in D3 because an auction house makes it too efficient. Everyone trusts it, so everyone sells their gear on the AH, so it gets flooded with all the best equipment. This means everyone gets decked out in super elite gear very easily and it makes the item hunt much more inefficient and unappealing by comparison.

    The funny thing is that we veteran online gamers dealt with these types of issues over 20 years ago in MUDs. MUDs suffered a lot of the same problems as D3. None of the equipment was soulbound, and there was heavy trading, making it easy to gear up and then you sat around bored with nothing to do.

    MUDs developed various systems to counter these problems:

    1. Make all items soulbound to effectively kill trading.
    2. Introduce durability. When an item hit zero, it broke and became junk. You had to replace it.
    3. Death traps. You enter the room, you die AND lose all your gear.
    4. Special solo EPIC questlines. This questlines are tuned such that you need to wear elite gear to complete. The rewards are awesome, including powerful skills and spells that you can ONLY obtain from the epic questline. There is a catch though. To make an attempt, you agree to surrender all the gear you wore and carried going in when you are done, whether you win or lose.
    5. Only x number of unique items could exist in the playerbase at any one time. When the max was hit, someone had to lose theirs before another would have a chance to drop.

    Basically you have a mix of:

    1. item sinks.
    2. soulbound items.

    Its the only way to allow an auction house to exist and still have an RPG that is playable.

    It says a LOT to me that Blizzard made the mistakes they did with the D3 economy. There is absolutely NO WAY they have ANY intelligent veteran gamers on the D3 staff. If they did, they would immediately be able to spot the major flaws with the economy.

    The bottom line is you CAN make D3 work with an auction house. But it requires item sinks. They need to either recycle some/all of the ones used in past RPGs like the ones I mentioned that are proven to work, or invent new ones.

    • Nice post. Pretty much sums it up.

      Some of your suggestions are awesome, but way too hardcore for Blizzard to even consider them. It is their design philosphy to never punish players and it is a good one to a certain extent. If i would lose all my items on death due to lag or servercrash or client exploit, whatever, i’d instaquit.
      But i agree, item sinks are most important. Just to suggest an approach, i think, the only way someone would ever destroy a good item is for a chance of getting a better item. You can certainly build something around that idea. PoE goes a bit in that direction. For example, regaling a very good item has a good chance to turn it into garbage, and a very slim chance to make it even more perfect. This can be frustrating, but everybody is cool with that. Because it is your decision after all. You move on and hope for the next item. This is an example of good frustration that enhances the gameplay experience.

      On a sidenote, i think Blizzard HAD to do the AH. Why donate the income to jsp? They could have made it less accessable though, like for example in form of a bazaar (Ragnarök Online style). It only had to be more accessable and safer then forum based trading, and should have been immersive and atmospheric.

      But whatever, really. D3 is a lost cause for me.

    • Agree totally – the ah has succeeded in making gold function as a currency and make trading significantly easier. WoW’s ah is a success also, but it primarily traffics goods for crafting binding gear, temporary buffs, vanity stuff, and enhancements to bound gear. Gold still has value in wow, but you can have amazing gear without having lots of gold, because amazing items are not bought, but earned. The same is not true for d3.

      I simply don’t understand how they could not see what would happen when you have an ah and no gear sinks. Gold becomes the most important thing because you directly buy power instead of being forced to ‘earn’ it by playing the game. Gold can enhance what you have already, but it should not be the foundation of your character. Your savvy with the ah becomes the gate to success. It is the single most important skill in diablo 3.

      I really hope they learned something. The ah itself is not the real problem.

  18. Wow, he really never played Diablo 2, did he? And yes, Diablo 2 had an AH, it was the primary way to get hacked. And anyone complaining about D3 drops never tried to build a legit o-skill runeword. Runes were absolutely ridiculous, and then absolutely RIDICULOUSLY duped. Blizz North failed in all ways that mattered (accessibility, rarity, security). You know how you “fix” the AH problem, you lunk head? Make character/account bound gear. How that idea never crossed into his stupid skull will always amaze me. Thank god they finally fired him. He has no clue, does he?

  19. And thus the true fans have been proved correct in their warning about the auction house. I hate to say, “I told you so,” but I did. And those of us who did were called haters and trolls.

    • This might be the biggest mea culpa coming from Blizzard since the RealID issue, where there was enormous public pressure to scrap RealID. Somehow, the pressure got thru that time and Blizzard relented….and they revamped RealID into battletags.

      • and dont forget about chat channels back with starcraft2 “Do you ‘really’ want chat channels”. Look at Diablo3’s social/chat channels its awful a small tiny box in the corner of the screen…. we are social creatures blizzard by nature.

    • And if they dumped the AH tomorrow, d2jsp would come back w/ a vengeance. All of these “no AH” types fail to realize that D2 had a RMAH that worked very similarly (although not as well) as the D3 one. It was just completely black market and the threat of hack was very real. They’d have to flush the entire economy down the toilet b/c it was so clogged w/ dupes and botted gear. There were ZERO item sinks. That’s the bigger problem. There was no reason to destroy items. D3 had a good idea (crafting) but bungled the execution so terribly. There still needs to be bound gear to FORCE people to destroy items, though.

      TLDR: D2 had a thriving AH system, as well (although illegitimate) and gear saturation was even worse. Both games need/needed a real item sink, and Blizz failed to deliver on ship.

  20. I still don’t think anything is wrong with the AH, or at least the idea of the AH. I would much rather have some central location to do all my trading rather than having to sit on a trade chat for hours spamming the same message over and over hoping to get a nibble, then having a negotiation failure and having to start all over again. The only problem with the current AH, at least in my opinion, is that the droprates are lower to compensate for the existence of the AH. If they pushed the droprates up a little bit there would be less need for the AH and it could go back to being an item farming game.

    The other problem, again just my opinion, is the current uselessness of crafting. I’m not honestly sure if account bound is the best way to go, time will tell for that, but I do think they need to add a lot more variety to what we currently have. There is almost no reason whatsoever to actually craft anything right now when you can just go to the AH and get a guaranteed good item, most of the time for far less than you would have spent in crafting, so why bother crafting? Crafting is always one of my favorite aspects in any game I play, I would love if they took another look at it in this game and tried to breathe some real life into it. They are trying, that much is obvious, I just hope they keep going and give us a crafting system that can be enjoyed instead of avoided.

    • Upping the drop rates doesn’t fix the problem that the AH exists. It would just drive down the price of everything on the AH and make it incredibly easier and cheaper to buy anything you wanted on the AH.

      Gamers as a whole tend to focus on finding the most efficient path as possible, so upping the drop rates would actually drive MORE people away from farming and towards the AH. Your solution would break the game even more.

    • They could have made a way to list all your items you have available to trade instead of having to spam the trade channels.

      When you log in, you list your items and what you want for them. If someone is interested, they right-click on the item and send a message to you to meet up. Not that hard really.

  21. Because Jay Wilson is always right about everything he says…

    …that’s why he still has his job (oh wait he doesn’t).

    I think it’s a hell of a lot more fun to find $200 on the ground than it is to find any item from any video game. Period.

    Diablo 3 gives that to me.

    • He does not have his job because he made a subpar Diablo experience by throwing out many of the things that make the Diablo action role playing game the king of the genre and by institution the pay to win system. Additionally, frankly most of the skills are still craptacular. Blizzard still has a lot of work to do on the game. They can start by shutting down the auction houses and increasing the drop rates. Then they need to get to work on the skills.

      In the expansion they need to look at implementing skill trees and stat points and other things Jay threw out of the game to dumb it down.

      • Sorry, but your statement has been proven wrong for 16 years.

        Pardo: the Diablo3 franchise is as much about trading as it is about grinding.

        The AH stays in. Certainly for lesser gear and crafting mats.


        • I disagree with Rob Pardo. The Diablo series isn’t a trading game. But it also isn’t a grinding game.

          Diablo is a MACRO game.

          In the RTS universe, Starcraft focuses on macro. That is, you have huge armies with low hitpoints, everything dies quickly and its about how good you are at managing huge armies. Warcraft 3 focuses on micro, where the army count is smaller, individual units have moer hitpoints, and each have more spells and skills. Its more about microing individual units to achieve success.

          In the RPG universe, Diablo is about macro. Its about having this really powerful character that gets swarmed by fast monsters that have low hitpoints. You have a couple spells or skills and its about managing how fast they come at you. In D1, a lot of the gameplay involved using choke points at doorways to avoid getting swarmed. Or in D2 you had wide open fields and ran around mobs until they were grouped up (cows) and then dropped your blizz or lightning fury on them to wipe them out.

          In the RPG universe, World of Warcraft is about micro. Levelling from 1-85 involves mostly 1v1 fights between you and a mob, it has enormous hitpoints, and you have many spells and skills given to you to kill it.

          Starcraft: Macro
          Warcraft 3: Micro

          Diablo: Macro
          WoW: Micro

          Its a bit disturbing that they are talking about “slowing down” the monsters in the console version of D3. That goes against the core vision of what Diablo is. You SHOULD be SWARMED by monsters in a Diablo game. They should be a challenge because they are fast and can overwhelm you. But, we’ll see.

          • Sorry, but Diablo is not a “macro” game. Macro/micro are short for macromanagement and micromanagement – they refer to scope, not the number of units involved. Starcraft involves both macro and micro, where macro involves managing the big picture (income/spending) and micro involves commanding and specific the actions of specific units.

            Honestly, the terms don’t even really apply to Diablo. Nevertheless, you could say that macro in Diablo involves managing the big picture (your attributes, skills, and items) while micro involves controlling your character – the gameplay. That makes Diablo primarily a micro game as you are constantly micromanaging your character (where to move, what to do, when to use skills and where to target them, etc.)

  22. I love the auction house. 90% of items I have sold have been on the AH, and the rest on a trading forum. With the AH in the game, it keeps “crap” items out of the forums, because no one really wants to deal with an in game trade over 1m gold.

    The simplicity of being able to find what you want and when you want it is amazing. I do not want to sit in a chat channel watching people spam hundreds of items hoping to find one that I am interested in. I do not want to read a wall of text on forums either. I want it quick and easy and simple.

  23. The AH needs to stay in.

    Solution is simple: make the highest gear BoA only on drops and crafting.

    Lower gear and crafting mats must stay on the AH so players have a choice to upgrade or trade.

    But the highest gear must be self found/crafted.

    In this way the AH functions but doesn’t interfere.


    And … Patch 1.07 was already introducing this in the crafting department.

    D3 without an AH = the end for me.

    • and since the game has been out almost a year you have to figure that most of the people that were going to buy the game have bought it by now

      and since there is no ladder (so no character of item wipes) and there is free speccing (so you arent’t forced to reroll) you have to figure anyone who bought it has most of their characters to level 60 already

      so are these people looking for the high end BOA gear ?
      or are they still looking for the lower gear and materials that would be on the AH ?

      if the AH is only for lower end gear then who is going to use it a year after the game has been out ?

    • If they make the best gear BOA only found on drops and crafting, well that is the World of Warcraft model. And the reason they did that in WoW was because of the problems with trading in D2.

      It would mean they just spent 13 years reinventing the wheel when it comes to WoW, which is kinda funny. They could have just asked the WoW designers instead?

    • My suggestion way back when the AH was first announced back before beta was to offer the option of a “legit” tag. There would be no special realms separate from everyone else. Basically, upon character creation, your toon is marked “legit” and all can see it upon inspection. However, the moment you pick up an item another toon found, or the moment you use the auction house, the legit tag is lost forever on that toon.

      So if you want to keep your legit tag, you need to stay self-found.

      I think its an easy way to implement a solution without resorting to the complicated process of installing new realms and separate playerbases.

  24. It is very strange that he doesn’t sees the obvious solution to please both people who like the auction house and people who hate it: create a complete new realm like hardcore is one now, a new realm with no trade at all(with trade could people still set up an auction house out of the game, maybe even have an RMAH with forum gold or something).

    You don’t need to raise the char limit for this, people who hate the auction house shall be willing to delete “RMAH chars” to make place for “no trade” chars.

    Because this realm shall have no trade shall it also be far far more difficult then diablo 3 is now, try a char that may only use self found items if you don’t believe me. Crafting(especially the new recipes) shall become very important.

  25. Big respect to Jay for admitting this mistake. My view of him improved by many factors.

    It does make the “f that loser” episode more interesting though, since IIRC Brevik was criticizing the AH aspect of the game, and it looks like Jay agrees with that criticism. I guess he was just trying to “buck up” his upset colleague.

  26. Wake up drones and look at the timing!

    Jay/Blizz knew full well how the release of such a statement affects the minds of the community. Now that the “truth” is out, even those who were on the fence before are now moving towards the “hate” side.

    But the question is WHY? And more precisely, why NOW?

    The answer is because they have already put a “perfect” solution in place BEFORE this “admission”. A solution that pleases the “haters” and also make more $$. So just shut up and go buy D3(again) on console because it has everything you want.

    Thank you Drone#2142.

    • Exactly, if you want the “better version” without the AH, pony up another $60 for it on console. That’s the sole reason this statement was scripted by Activision and read by Mr Wilson.

  27. Do you even know what macro and micro mean? Because you’re controlling every individual move your character makes, thats called MICROMANAGING or micro.

    The difference between micro and macro is key assignments. Macro involves getting bunches of groups ready to move at a moments notice where they are supposed to be.

    Diablo 3 is the epitome of single unit micromanagement.

    For me, since the inception of the original series, the trading aspect of the game has always been a fun one. It was ultimately destroyed by cheating in diablo 1 (which forced me away from the game but I had Quake and CS and Starcraft to make me happy). Diablo 2, however, was completely defined by trading. Some items where so rare that you would have no chance at finding them yourself. Automation ruled Diablo 2. I took botting to the next level. I started scripting and rewriting code for mm.bot. I was posting all of my work for years on Diabloworld/Rpgforums with thousands of people following my threads. At one point in time I had three computers running full blast 24 hours a day rotating through 30 sets of cd keys. I come back home to see what my monster had done for me every day, it was all about tuning my machine, tweaking everything I could for the ultimate in efficiency.

    It was entirely more fun for me cheating in Diablo 2 than it has ever been grinding relentlessly in Diablo 3. It gave me something to do beyond the original intention of the game. It was hard work! I was rewarded for my efforts! I was helping more than a thousand individuals achieve the same things I was doing. It was pretty great.

    Was it necessarily wrong? Probably. I was undermining 99.999999% of the player base that was trying to play legitimately. However, I believed, as I still do, that NO ONE deserves to be further ahead of the curve than me. So I cheated to accommodate the fact that other people were doing it as well. I thought it was unfair for botters to have an edge that I did not.

    I also noticed a trend, that botted items were never a problem to the community, however, duped items were.

    Diablo 3 doesn’t have enough to do. you take away the AH, it has even less to do. How these guys worked on a game for 15 years and then released it having less content than either of the titles that came out before it is so entirely appalling that I don’t know what to say. D3 is probably one of the biggest failures that Blizzard has produced. The initial blunder was the unavailability of everything. Then the over-availability.

    Items still have not reached any sort of equilibrium (there are more items available pre-endgame then there are available at endgame). They are not hiring physical people to take care of the spam and moderate their trade channels. The trade/chat functionality is entirely bad (you ARE forced to use the AH to trade).

    With the kind of money they are making, they could hire a team overseas that could well take care of these problems for minimal damage to their pocketbooks. Yet they don’t. As a business I don’t understand wtf they think they are doing. I don’t have the greatest concept of what should be going on, but I do have something, and what we have now is garbage and not worthy in anyways shape or form to the franchise.

    Obviously they must have a QA team, maybe these guys need to be fired cause the aren’t really assuring quality, you know? Seems like a big fail to me.

    I’m bored with Diablo 3. The only thing that keeps me coming back is the prospect of making more money (I made $40 today and $50 yesterday).

    • Ill stand by my definution of micro and macro. Another way to put is the diablo series, when designed correctly, should give you the same rush that you feel when you play Defender. For younger gamers, defender was this 80s arcade shooter where basically a million things were hitting your screen at once and you had to try to maintain a level of controlled chaos to survive. They even included an item called a smart bomb (that incremented its count in your inventory by one every x points) that destroyed all enemies on the screen when used. You needed it otherwise youd get overwhelmed sooner or later.

      Thats macro. Just massive amounts of units and chaos all over the place where the best strategy is playing by seeing the big picture, using unit positioning and control tactics.

      Wow is micro because is mostly you vs 1 mob straight up for hours on end. Diablo is micro because it involves unit positioning, like instead of just running at the cows, you herd them, group them up, and THEN cast lfury.

  28. Simple solution – add bind on pickup / bind on account items.
    Make them better than anything else available.

    If you take away the fact that the auction house offers the BEST items in the game, then you take away the major part of the reason why players use it.
    Gem trading etc is not really an issue – its a good thing,.

    But I strongly agree with Jay for once, that the AH in its current state is hurting the game. I dont bother playing when i can just BUY items to improve my character. They need to add new, bigger, better, more powerful items that stay with your account and can not be traded on the auction house to give people a reason to GO OUT AND KILL STUFF,. it’s silly, but that’s simply the best way to get it back to a working order

  29. Ah, we can only hope the upcoming expansion adds exactly that ^,. new items that can not be traded.

  30. I don’t care if it was intended or not, all I know is removing RMAH is the only thing that can get me back into the game, it’s the only thig that can solve all the problems with the game eventually. I sincerely hope this is just preparing the fanbase for the removal in new expansion.

    Except those fan boys who found some silly excuses to defend RMAH last 3 years…

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