The idea of a real-money auction house in a Diablo game has been a controversial and divisive point for many gamers since it was first announced. While Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime first defended the idea, noting that it was being included "to provide convenience and peace of mind for those players who might otherwise turn to third-party services to buy items," the studio has now backtracked, saying it undermines Diablo III's gameplay.
In a post on the official Battle.net website, Blizzard has officially announced its decision to remove the gold and real-money auction house system entirely. The auction house system, which saw multiple delays before finally being implemented last June, will shut down on March 18, 2014.
"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," said Blizzard's John Hight.
"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."