The system was part of the increased online focus of the much-anticipated sequel when it released in 2012. Allowing players to take loot discovered in-game and sell it through Blizzard to other players for real money, the auction house was supposed to be a major component. But fan outcry began almost immediately as the auction house essentially "broke" the game, allowing players to buy better weapons and armor, rather than earning them in game. Blizzard production director John Hight wrote Wednesday that the developer has heard these complaints.
"When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades," he said. "But as we've mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, it ultimately undermines 'Diablo's' core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that we've decided to remove the gold and real-money auction house system from 'Diablo III.'"
In addition to the removal of the auction house, Blizzard is in the process of finalizing what it is calling a "Loot 2.0" system that will debut along with the recently announced "Reaper of Souls" expansion. The developer hopes the embattled "Diablo III" will be met with more favor and less scrutiny following the changes. There is yet no word on what will happen to the listings, or to the money players have amassed by the time of the shutdown. Hight promised more information in the coming months.
"We're working out the details of how the auction house system will be shut down, but we wanted to share the news as soon as we made the decision in order to give everyone as much advance notice as possible," he said.