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Blizzard axing Diablo 3 Auction House in March

Real-money system "undermines Diablo's core game play", says developer

Blizzard has announced plans to axe Diablo 3's real money Auction House on March 18, 2014.

The developer has said that, despite its benefits, the real-money trading system "undermines Diablo's core game play".

Here's the video Blizzard issued in relation to the announcement:

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And here's the full official statement from Blizzard production director John Hight:

"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.

"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. Please note that the shutdown will occur on March 18, 2014. We will keep everyone informed as we work through this process.

"[Game director] Josh Mosqueira and I wanted to provide everyone with a little more information behind this decision, so please have a look at the video, and stay tuned to this site for further updates in the months ahead."

This won't come entirely as a surprise to those who recall game director Jay Wilson openly admitting that he thought the real-money Auction House "really hurt the game".

It was expected, Wilson noted during a GDC talk earlier this year, that a legitimate auction feature would reduce the use of fraud and black market sales, and that only a small number of players would use them.

The developer was wrong on both accounts, admitted Wilson. Almost every Diablo 3 player has used an auction house at some point, and over half of them on a regular basis, he said.

This "damaged item rewards", he added, and the pursuit of money had detracted from what should be the game's real motivator - its campaign.

That same 'pursuit of money' has also inadvertently, but perhaps inevitably, attracted hackers and exploiters to the game, who just recently prompted Blizzard to take the Auction House offline temporarily following a round of Gold duplication hacks.

Blizzard has previously confirmed the Diablo 3 console port will not include real money auction houses.