After pioneering an attempt to introduce Real Money Transactions (RMT) into an online game, Blizzard is removing all auction houses from Diablo III in preparation to changing the way the game’s item system works. Citing that the auction house (AH) and its RMT version undermine the core gameplay of Diablo, Blizzard states that they will be taking both offline on March 18th, 2014 alongside what they’re calling “Loot 2.0.”

Gold auction houses in MMO and online games have never been that controversial and Diablo II still has a trading community (although not an AH) that’s been going strong after many years (and even after D3’s launch); however, the concept of RMT auction houses have been fraught with controversy and even peril. Blizzard heralded their specialized form of always-on DRM to protect that holding and make certain that the economy wasn’t flooded with cheated goods.

It did not end up working out quite that way as duplication hacks surfaced and hacks still proliferated.

And now, by the end of first quarter next year, that will all end.

When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades. 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.

We feel that this move along with the Loot 2.0 system being developed concurrently with Reaper of Souls™ will result in a much more rewarding game experience for our players.

All in the name of core gameplay integrity.

The Diablo III Auction House is dead, long live the Auction House

From the look of it, Loot 2.0 means a total removal of auction houses in their entirety.

It’s not being replaced by something else, it’s being removed and not coming back. The words of the designers have made it sound like the presence of the AH itself affects the core gameplay in a way that they do not like.

Add in that the RMT auction house as an experiment to make Blizzard more money (by taking a cut of the trades taking place) this could also mean that the game wasn’t making its bones via the RMT AH. But, not just making money, the RMT AH was an attempt to cut into the illegitimate trades for actual money outside of the control of the studio. This is generally always against the Terms of Service.

However, it’s questionable if it even worked out that way.

Back in March of this year, Joystiq quoted Diablo 3 director Jay Wilson saying the auction house really hurt the game.

Going back to basics: letting the player community run trading

Diablo 2 has a thriving trade community in spite of being almost 13 years old. Without access to an auction house, players trade amongst themselves by hooking up in forums, chat rooms, and global chat channels across Battle.net. The result: players must find each other, negotiate, and make trades in game instances created just for that purpose.

Without an auction house, players of Diablo 3 who want to trade for items will need to find a way to reproduce this social phenomena in D3. It won’t be quite the same as an easy go-to interface with listings but instead a haphazard ad hocracy developed out of the desire to get hands on particular rare items.

Of course, it would also mean that players would have to rely more on the loot system in the game, their own wits, and the availability of tools outside of D3 in order to facilitate transactions in game.

[Cross-posted at SiliconANGLE.com, Blizzard Makes Plans to Remove All Auction Houses from Diablo III” by Kyt Dotson]