In life, the hardest choice is often the right one, which is why Blizzard deserves the highest of fives for announcing the impending removal of the auction house from Diablo III. In a post on Battle.net, Blizzard’s Production Director John Hight said that the final days of the auction house will be March 18, 2014. Noting the expansion pack Reaper of Souls and the new Loot 2.0, it seems that the glory days of the auction house are done… not that it was very glorious to begin with.
The oft-maligned feature was a major selling point at the launch of the game back in May of last year but, as time went on, it became increasingly clear that it wasn’t working out as hoped. The interesting part about this isn’t the announcement itself but why the announcement was made and what it might mean for the game.
If you played Diablo II, you’d remember the community-created economy that was prevalent in the game. Items didn’t cost money and were instead worth a certain number of runes or, more famously, Stone of Jordan unique rings. This paved the way for lots of successful third party sites to support this system. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.
In Diablo III, Blizzard sought to monopolize this system with the auction house, allowing players to spend cash or gold to acquire upgrades for their characters. This was a good idea in concept that backfired horribly on Blizzard. One of the chief complaints about the game is that you never seem to find any upgrades for your class while playing the game normally.
Furthermore, most of the stuff that does drop is — for the lack of a better word — crap. As a result, the most effective way to improve your character’s items and gain money is not killing enemies but farming the Auction House.
That’s why this change goes hand in hand with the upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion pack. And there’s the announcement of Loot 2.0, which promises to completely revamp the drop system of the game. There will be less items dropped overall but what you do find should be drastically improved. Some items will even be catered toward the class you’re playing at the time. This change, coupled with the removal of the auction house, should make it more enjoyable to wade through the masses of demons in Sanctuary.
As a result, there’s going to be a lot of interesting stuff happening between now and then. Without the auction house, it’s safe to say that gold is going to drastically drop in value. It’s basically “lame duck” currency, so until the new economy is established expect prices to be pretty wacky. Judging by how things worked in the previous Diablo title, it might be wise to hang on to things like crafting reagents or gems since those would be potential candidates for becoming the new “SoJ” and thus be very valuable.
With Reaper of Souls, Blizzard is aiming to completely change the Diablo experience and that picture is becoming clearer with each new bit of information. Some might be skeptical that an expansion pack could make such a difference. But hey, they did a pretty great job with Lord of Destruction right?