Diablo III’s controversial real-money auction house could have been removed much sooner if Blizzard hadn’t been concerned about the potential legal ramifications of doing so, according to lead designer Jay Wilson.
The real money auction house allowed players to buy and sell in-game items from other players for gold or real money. It caused a backlash almost immediately after the release of Diablo III, as players found themselves unable to progress through the game’s higher difficulty without purchasing better items through the auction house (with Blizzard taking a small chunk of the top of each transaction). The auction house was eventually removed approximately two years after the game’s release.
Speaking as part of a Diablo retrospective panel at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo (via PC Gamer), Wilson said it was clear from the start that the auction house was a major problem. However, Blizzard was afraid to remove the feature immediately, as it was highlighted on the game’s physical box as an in-game feature. Removing the feature could have exposed Blizzard to lawsuits and other legal headaches.
“The reason we didn’t get rid of it right away when we saw it was a problem was because legally we didn’t think we could because it was advertised on the boxes,” Wilson said. “In fact, it took us a long time to try to work out all the legal issues before finally saying, ‘Okay, we think it’s worth trying, if we get a lawsuit, fine.'”
When it came to why the auction house was implemented in the first place, Wilson reiterated what has been said multiple times over the years: that the reasoning behind the Diablo III auction house was to kill off sellers of gold and hackers, not to make money.
“The reason we wanted to do the real-money auction house was security, not any other reason,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t to make money. Honestly, we didn’t think it would make that much money.”
Wilson said he would be surprised if the auction house made more than $10 million or $15 million in the two years it’s existed, which, he said, sounds like a lot, but it was a drop in the ocean compared to what the title was earning. Blizzard badge, World of Warcraft. at the time. Asked in a later question about Activision’s influence over Blizzard (Activision acquired Blizzard in 2008), Wilson said that Diablo III was not affected by commercial pressures from Activision, as it was a “premium box model” in instead of a free or subscription-based model. business model to play.
Blizzard released the first free entry in the Diablo series, Diablo Immortal, earlier this year. It was quickly criticized for its microtransactions. Diablo Immortal also includes an auction house where players can buy and sell certain items from other players, with a recent update clearing up some confusion about which consumable items allow items to be sold on the auction house.
When it comes to the upcoming Diablo IV, Blizzard has made it clear that the game will not include any way for players to purchase player power, although the game will feature a cosmetic shop.
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