Diablo III released on PC in May of 2012, and the fan response was mixed to say the least. For everything Diablo III seemed to do right, it did some other thing wrong, and often for what felt like disingenuous reasons. It forced you online under auspices of enforcing some kind of co-operative sense of community, but many players interpreted it as heavy-handed DRM. It offered a skill and progression system that felt unfamiliar and unnecessarily reductive. And — perhaps most egregious of all — it offered and even encouraged a separate auction-house system where players could buy or sell items for in-game or real money.
Those who experienced Diablo II probably understand at least why the Blizzard team was looking into alternatives. Not only was the act of picking up loot and getting equipment in any cooperative game a cutthroat and largely unfair proposition, there was endless abuse of the limited system that fostered a hazardous black market.
Players, however, suggested from the moment that the Auction House was discussed that the whole point of Diablo was to kill monsters and find loot, and that the very nature of the AH would undermine that fundamental point of the game. It’s been 18 months, and at last, Blizzard has conceded this point and laid out plans to bring the Auction House to an end in March of next year.
But, I wonder on news of this announcement: If Blizzard had it all over to do again, would they actually do anything substantively different? Is this year-too-late decision the mea culpa that a lot of players have been waiting for, or a half-hearted gesture to excise a system that has finally stopped being profitable?