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Jay Wilson: Auction Houses "Really Hurt" Diablo III

Former Diablo III game director Jay Wilson admitted the real-money and gold auction houses "really hurt the game," as Blizzard underestimated the number of players who would turn to auctions to outfit their characters. Joystiq has details from a GDC talk where Wilson said they thought the auction houses were a service players of their action/RPG sequel wanted, and that hosting them in-house would reduce fraud and abuse, but as in the end, they created an environment where collecting money was a primary goal over defeating Diablo and his hordes. He also says they would turn off auctions if they could, but they have "no idea" how many players this would disappoint. His contention that Blizzard thought only a small number of players would use the auction houses is hard to fathom in light of the game's design, which, for a considerable time before a series of balance changes required the very best gear to complete on the highest levels, even though such gear dropped so rarely it was impractical to try to collect it without using the auctions. Blizzard has a GDC talk scheduled for today discussing their iterative design process for Diablo III, and their preview of that mentions a number of systems that were reworked during the game's design because they were unsatisfactory, but all the examples they use are gameplay mechanics, and not things like auctions.

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63. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:09 Krizzen
Xero wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 10:04:
I cannot fathom the fact that they believe players want simplicity over complexity when it comes to Diablo which namely Diablo 2 made it's entrance through all the customization and permanence of character development.

One word: Consoles.

(Disclaimer: If you're happy with that answer, skip to the next post; otherwise, here is my reply to the inevitable)

There are a TON of folks that would disagree and say, "Oh no, Diablo has always been PC first. They designed it for PC. Auction house, use a mouse to click, no controller support... yadda yadda".

The truth is, Activision is in the house. I wouldn't say Activision OWNS or RUNS Blizzard directly (they're still very separate), but they still have the same board of directors. Activision has always been more money hungry than Blizzard. They want the big piece of the pie. They want Blizzard to "produce" and surely the case is much like: "We want some big numbers out of you guys this year!", and they must live up to the expectations of the corporate beast.

Anyway, all that business junk aside, a console version was publicly mentioned many months before release. You don't publicly mention an upcoming project (or release platform) without that statement carry weight as one of the most successful gaming companies in history. Console was in the pipeline. It had been in the pipeline. Now it comes out of their stanky pipeline.

The game was designed with consoles in mind. Probably not since the start (10+ year dev cycle!), but at some point, it became a big point.

So, a lot of what Diablo 3 has and doesn't have, can be attributed directly to a planned console release.
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