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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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85. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 17:27 AngelicPenguin
 
Flatline wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 17:12:
And really, assuming that there are a million unique logins a day, and they sold 12 million units, we're probably talking about around a 10-15% player redemption. That's not a lot really.

Ya I have no idea what Blizzard expected, gamers expected, etc. I will say if someone told me 10% of a game's population are playing it regularly a year after it came out, I'd think that was pretty successful, especially when that 10% is a million users. But I have no idea really on something like this.
 
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84. Re: More Big Picture Details Mar 29, 2013, 17:22 HorrorScope
 
AngelicPenguin wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 17:04:
More than 12 million sold?

All I was saying is that, while the game seems despised on gaming forums, there are plenty of gamers out there playing it, so I'm assuming they find it fun.

It is hard to argue against that... Fashionable gaming works.
 
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83. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 17:16 Dev
 
Flatline wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 16:58:
I mean, how much money per game unit are they making a profit on anyway? Shall we say 20 bucks a unit and make it an absurdly high number? At that rate, for every 100 bucks that they make in the RMAH, they would have to sell 5 copies of D3 to compensate.

I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the RMAH made more profit for Blizzard than the actual game did.
Only $20? Remember that a large number of copies are sold directly by blizzard where they can take almost all the profit except processing fees. At $60 a copy, I bet they are making at least $40. For US/europe anyway.

But yes, it wouldn't surprise me if the RMAH is a large percentage of their D3 income. Plus, its ONGOING. Kinda like subscriptions are for WoW. So over time it will undoubtedly be more.
 
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82. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 17:12 Flatline
 
AngelicPenguin wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 17:04:
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 16:09:
AngelicPenguin wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 15:38:
I think that shows very clearly what is shouted about on game forums doesn't translate into reality at all.
I don't think thats what it shows. I think it shows that they could have done far far more sales if they had a little more sense about how they made the game.

More than 12 million sold?

All I was saying is that, while the game seems despised on gaming forums, there are plenty of gamers out there playing it, so I'm assuming they find it fun.

We don't really have the data needed to see if D3 was successful the way D2 was successful. We need to look at player retention 3-4 years from now (or ideally, 3-4 years after the inevitable expansion pack, which at the rate Blizzard is going at, should see the light of day around 2017).

And really, assuming that there are a million unique logins a day, and they sold 12 million units, we're probably talking about around a 10-15% player redemption. That's not a lot really.
 
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81. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 17:04 AngelicPenguin
 
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 16:09:
AngelicPenguin wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 15:38:
I think that shows very clearly what is shouted about on game forums doesn't translate into reality at all.
I don't think thats what it shows. I think it shows that they could have done far far more sales if they had a little more sense about how they made the game.

More than 12 million sold?

All I was saying is that, while the game seems despised on gaming forums, there are plenty of gamers out there playing it, so I'm assuming they find it fun.
 
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80. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 16:58 Flatline
 
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 16:09:
I don't think thats what it shows. I think it shows that they could have done far far more sales if they had a little more sense about how they made the game.

Considering that they take 15% of RMAH proceeds and then another 15% when you withdraw your money, I suspect that without the RMAH, Diablo 3 would have been less profitable even with the increased sales.

I mean, how much money per game unit are they making a profit on anyway? Shall we say 20 bucks a unit and make it an absurdly high number? At that rate, for every 100 bucks that they make in the RMAH, they would have to sell 5 copies of D3 to compensate.

I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the RMAH made more profit for Blizzard than the actual game did.
 
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79. Re: Jay Wilson: Auction Houses Mar 29, 2013, 16:31 deqer
 
Tumbler wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 16:17:
How about just dropping loot designed for my character only.

No no no, we can't have that. That would mean you would get equipped quickly, and therefore get bored of the game quickly. No. Blizzard wants you to grind the game for years, and feed you the lore excuse "with great rewards requires great work" or some babble shit like that.
 
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78. Re: Jay Wilson: Auction Houses Mar 29, 2013, 16:21 Dev
 
Tumbler wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 16:17:
The claim that they didn't alter the drop rates to feed the auction house is rage worthy. The "game" is the auction house, the stuff you do in game is more a of a mini game to get items to trade on the auction house.
LOL
 
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77. Re: Jay Wilson: Auction Houses Mar 29, 2013, 16:17 Tumbler
 
How about just dropping loot designed for my character only. It's so much fun to get something awesome for a Barbarian when I'm a wizard. Who wants to just equip something like that and keep playing when you can start a three DAY auction to get gold then spend that gold on something that takes another three DAYS.

The game would probably be a lot of fun if the loot drops were designed to be fun playing solo. They're a complete joke. The claim that they didn't alter the drop rates to feed the auction house is rage worthy. The "game" is the auction house, the stuff you do in game is more a of a mini game to get items to trade on the auction house.

It would be unwise for them to ship the console version with the same drop rates they have now. They can make the game a lot of fun if this just quit trying to push everyone into the auction house.
 
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76. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 16:09 Dev
 
Undocumented Alien wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 14:55:
As far as these new unique players, I wonder how many of those are just gold farmers?
Can't be that many. Gold farmers aren't going to sell to each other. If no one bought any gold (if all were farmers), there'd be no market and they'd stop trying. Out of the 1 million unique players per day, my guess is no more than a few percent. Thats still way too high, don't get me wrong. But gold farmers are nowhere close to a majority of players.
HorrorScope wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 15:49:
Jay Wilson: "We'd Turn Off Diablo III's Auction House If We Could"

A. The Owners/Board will not allow us.
B. There is a law prohibiting it.
C. Our programmers left and only accountants are left.
D. I'll say whatever I have to, to get this over with and still sound cool.
You forgot E. all the above
AngelicPenguin wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 15:38:
I think that shows very clearly what is shouted about on game forums doesn't translate into reality at all.
I don't think thats what it shows. I think it shows that they could have done far far more sales if they had a little more sense about how they made the game.
 
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75. Re: More Big Picture Details Mar 29, 2013, 15:49 HorrorScope
 
Jay Wilson: "We'd Turn Off Diablo III's Auction House If We Could"

A. The Owners/Board will not allow us.
B. There is a law prohibiting it.
C. Our programmers left and only accountants are left.
D. I'll say whatever I have to, to get this over with and still sound cool.
 
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74. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 15:38 AngelicPenguin
 
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 14:27:
Darks wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 11:01:
It may have sold that many copies, but there are defiantly not that many people sitting around playing it now. Compared to D2 this game has failed to hold its luster that kept many D2 players playing for several years.
What do you mean "may" ? It DID. In fact it sold 12m copies, they announced it on their earnings.
link
Not exactly a secret or a guess from NPD here.

Also, in last day or two, its been announced that they have 3 million unique players a month and 1 million unique players a day. Seems like its holding its lustre just fine for a large number of people (I'm not one of them).
http://www.gamespot.com/events/gdc-2013/story.html?sid=6406151

People aren't exactly sticking it to blizzard over this game even now. If anything the lesson blizzard will take away from this is they can say anything and sell anything they like and people will rush out to buy it.

I think that shows very clearly what is shouted about on game forums doesn't translate into reality at all. Killing stuff is a lot of fun in that game, and I think to a large number of people, that's all that matters.
 
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73. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 15:23 Pigeon
 
"Blizzard underestimated the number of players who would turn to auctions to outfit their characters."

Underestimated? I thought they were counting on that, thus the complete shit drops you would get. Thus why your characters performance was so closely tied to equipment. Maybe they've improved those aspects since I last played a month or so after release, but equipment farming was terrible.

It's hilariously sad that they're trying to fess up to a mistake, but still shifting the blame on the user base. That's the bullshit bit, the heavy reliance on the AH was by design, they wanted that RMAH cash.

I re-ran content in D3 way more than I ever did in D2 for the sake of getting equipment. I don't mind a grind, but the rewards were so few and far between it wasn't worth it.
 
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72. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:55 Undocumented Alien
 
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 14:27:
Darks wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 11:01:
It may have sold that many copies, but there are defiantly not that many people sitting around playing it now. Compared to D2 this game has failed to hold its luster that kept many D2 players playing for several years.
What do you mean "may" ? It DID. In fact it sold 12m copies, they announced it on their earnings.
link
Not exactly a secret or a guess from NPD here.

Also, in last day or two, its been announced that they have 3 million unique players a month and 1 million unique players a day. Seems like its holding its lustre just fine for a large number of people (I'm not one of them).
http://www.gamespot.com/events/gdc-2013/story.html?sid=6406151

People aren't exactly sticking it to blizzard over this game even now. If anything the lesson blizzard will take away from this is they can say anything and sell anything they like and people will rush out to buy it.

As we all know they could have put dog shit in a box and slapped the Diablo Title on the front and it would have sold out 12 million copies. They could have put online DRM, limited installs, adverts, hardware dongles, whatever, it still would have sold 12 million copies... it is a Diablo brand game, they knew they had brand name leverage to do whatever they wanted.

As far as these new unique players, I wonder how many of those are just gold farmers?
 
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71. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:43 ItBurn
 
jdreyer wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 14:37:
Another complaint about character customization. I gain new abilities as I progress, but I don't feel those abilities progressing. The abilities feel the same level after level.

You're not gaining new abilities, you're basically going through a 60 level tutorial and at the end you are able to use all the skills available to your character.

We need to be able to put points in skills to make them stronger and customize our character. Even if a skill isn't the best in the game, we can put points in it to make it at least viable.
 
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70. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:37 jdreyer
 
Another complaint about character customization. I gain new abilities as I progress, but I don't feel those abilities progressing. The abilities feel the same level after level.  
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69. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:31 jdreyer
 
Julio wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 12:53:
I'm not really excited by the concept of farming the same maps for gold again and again. Random maps, or a least a lot more of them would have made a huge difference. Add the always online DRM, and that makes it even worse.

Jay's an idiot. Fuck that loser.

Yeah, lack of map randomization compared to previous games really hurts replayability, IMO.
 
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68. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:27 RollinThundr
 
Beelzebud wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 13:24:
I just hope that Blizzard actually ate some humble pie over this.

When Jay made the "Fuck that loser" comment, in regards to the man who designed Diablo, the thing that struck me was all the people who cheered him on and backed him up on facebook all worked at Blizzard. One of them even bragging that Brevik (the loser of with whom to fuck) never sold that many copies of one of his games.

This is a group of people that started their careers at Blizzard on third base, and thought they hit a triple.

No one bought Diablo 3 because of those people, they bought it because of the reputation the first two games had. When you take a close non-troll look at Diablo 3 it is an utter shell of the former games. The one thing they got right was the "feel" of the game. Combat can be fun. The problems quickly pile up beyond that.

The "randomization" in the levels is simply a joke. Haveing 2-4 ways for a map to slightly change isn't random. Being able to re-specialize your character at every whim takes any real sense of choice or individuality out of the game. Not only the item drops, but the items themselves just suck. They essentially copied the WoW item formula, and ignored everything that made items interesting in Diablo 2. The auction house was just the shitty icing on the shitty cake. They can express regret about it now, but they tuned the item drops to make the ah the only viable choice to get any upgrades at a certain point.

What happened to the game they showed in all of those early demonstrations? It actually looked fun.

If they do put out a paid expansion for this game, I will not be buying it. Nearly a year in and there isn't even the PVP game they hyped. Battle.net 2.0 is a 100% step back compared to the old system they used to run on dial-up modems FFS.

QFT!
 
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67. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:27 Dev
 
Darks wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 11:01:
It may have sold that many copies, but there are defiantly not that many people sitting around playing it now. Compared to D2 this game has failed to hold its luster that kept many D2 players playing for several years.
What do you mean "may" ? It DID. In fact it sold 12m copies, they announced it on their earnings.
link
Not exactly a secret or a guess from NPD here.

Also, in last day or two, its been announced that they have 3 million unique players a month and 1 million unique players a day. Seems like its holding its lustre just fine for a large number of people (I'm not one of them).
http://www.gamespot.com/events/gdc-2013/story.html?sid=6406151

People aren't exactly sticking it to blizzard over this game even now. If anything the lesson blizzard will take away from this is they can say anything and sell anything they like and people will rush out to buy it.
 
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66. Re: Jay Wilson: Auctions Houses Mar 29, 2013, 14:24 jdreyer
 
Acleacius wrote on Mar 29, 2013, 10:36:
No way the largest mmog developer/publisher wouldn't know the effect of an Auction House, on an online only game. They knew, they were exploiting gamers and the gamers fought back. Bitches are now admitting failure but still trying to lie their way out of it.
Gamers fought back by buying 6 million copies. They really showed Blizzard!
 
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