The in-game auction house, where players use real money to buy high-level gear and in-game gold, is going away on March 18, 2014.
"When we initially designed and implemented the auction house system, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades," Blizzard's John Hight wrote in a post. "But after much review and player feedback, 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."
The auction house has caused no end of economic problems for the game. In May, a glitch in the service let some players duplicate their in-game gold, which resulted in massive inflation. Blizzard eventually donated the money to charity.
The details of how the shutdown will occur are still being worked out. Blizzard said it would give players plenty of warning about the particulars, though, letting them act accordingly.
"When we originally set up the auction house, it was supposed to be a safe and convenient way for you to trade items and in that respect, it was very successful, but it became a double edge sword," said Hight in an accompanying video (embedded below).
The move might have been telegraphed earlier this month when the console version of Diablo III hit shelves. Blizzard chose not to include the auction house in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game. However, it noted in the game's FAQs, "Players [were] still ... able to trade items with others during play as well as acquire upgraded follower-crafted items."
Players met the announcement with a mixture of surprise and celebration.
"Holy crap guys - major props," said user Merkimedes. "This could not have been an easy decision to make, especially with revenue on the line. It needed to be done - good job."
- Video Games