It’s finally happened; Blizzard has closed the real money auction house in Diablo 3.
We knew it was coming of course, but it nevertheless bears mentioning due to just how controversial a feature it proved to be. From the very beginning, players were up in arms about the fact that people could spend real money to gain an in-game advantage. So controversial was its inclusion that South Korea even increased the game’s minimum age rating over fears that it came a little too close to gambling for comfort.
Not everyone begrudged its existence of course – plenty of people happily made an income from it, with some items selling for hundreds of dollars; and there was, of course an in-game gold equivalent. But it’s hard to look at the auction house as anything more than a PR disaster for the veteran developer.
With the introduction of the new Loot 2.0 system a couple of weeks ago – rolled out ahead of the release of Reaper of Souls on March 25th, time was effectively up. Aside from a loophole which meant players were briefly able to exploit it by selling duplicate items to other players – items which never actually arrived – Loot 2.0 has largely been heralded as a success. Players are reporting much improved drop rates for high-level items, and things appear to be improving for Blizzard. The release of the console version last year was also met with great success. After a rocky couple of years, Diablo’s reputation as a franchise is once again on the increase.
Whether Reaper of Souls manages to maintain that upward trajectory is another matter, but the signs at least look good. No doubt Blizzard is heaving a sigh of relief.