According to a report on Joystiq, the now former game director of Diablo III, Blizzard’s Jay Wilson, was giving a talk during Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2013 in which he admitted that both the real-money and in-game-gold auction houses “really hurt the game.”
“I think we would turn it off if we could,” said Wilson.
However, he said that Blizzard cannot gauge how many people like the auction houses so it is not a simple matter of removing the feature. Wilson did hint that the team is working on a solution.
Diablo III introduced game-item auction houses in which players could buy and sell items for in-game gold or real money. The auction houses remain contentious as they affect the global economy of item drops. Many players also accuse Blizzard of implementing underwhelming item drop rates in order to force players into the auction houses to find powerful gear to tackle the game’s harder difficulty settings.
During his GDC 2013 talk, Wilson said that Blizzard thought the auction houses would help reduce fraud, provide a service wanted by players, that only a small percentage of players would make use of it, and item prices would limit how many were listed and sold.
However, Blizzard was surprised by how many people made use of the auction houses – especially the in-game gold auction house.
Wilson said that of the roughly 1-million daily and 3-million monthly players, 50% use the auction houses regularly. The in-game gold auction house does more harm to the game said Wilson, because it causes prices to fluctuate.