Diablo 3’s Ill-Fated Real-Money Auction House Couldn’t Be Removed For One Very Mundane Reason

Players who were around for Diablo III’s launch in 2012 will probably remember the auction house: a gameplay mechanic where players could buy and sell their in-game items for real-world money.

The feature was controversial right from the start, but it didn’t disappear completely until 2014. Now, we know why. During a panel at Portland Retro Gaming Expo (via PC Gamer), Diablo III lead designer Jay Wilson shared why it took so long for Blizzard to remove the unpopular mechanic.

“The reason we did not get rid of it right away when we saw it was a problem was legally we didn’t think we could because it was advertised on the boxes,” Wilson said. “So we actually took a long time to try and work out all the legal issues before we finally said, ‘okay, we think it’s worth trying it, if we get a lawsuit oh well.'”

Wilson also noted that the auction house was not very popular, saying, “If it made more than 10 or 15 million [dollars] I’d be surprised. It sounds like a lot of money but WoW probably made that every 10 seconds. It was not very popular.”

Blizzard revealed Diablo III’s player-driven auction house in 2011. It wasn’t until nearly a year and a half after launch that Blizzard finally announced the auction house would shut down. The service finally came to a close in March 2014, along with Blizzard admitting the mechanic undermined the point of Diablo.

Diablo III’s removal of the auction house mechanic led to a huge turnaround for the game. Blizzard eventually introduced the “Loot 2.0” system that rebalanced drops, giving players a much better experience. This led to the very well-received Diablo III Eternal Collection, and propelled Diablo III onto our list of games that made a major comeback.

Now, the Diablo faithful are looking ahead to Diablo IV, which is coming to Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, and PC sometime next year. Fortunately, Blizzard has already confirmed players will not be able to “pay for power” in the upcoming game — a problem that also plagued the franchise’s mobile offering, Diablo Immortal. For more on Diablo, check out Blizzard’s upcoming plans for the Diablo 4 beta.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

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