Diablo 3, Blizzard Entertainment’s latest MMORPG experience has put a shutdown into effect on its in-game Auction House. The feature provided both virtual “gold” transactions as well as transactions for real world money. In September of last year, Blizzard had announced that they would be removing the auction house, because it conflicted with their own vision for the game.
The Diablo series is an MMORPG, which, for those not familiar with video games, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The game involves sending one’s character into seemingly endless, spiraling depths of dungeons, slaying hordes of monsters of every type, killing the boss, and finally collecting the “loot” from the endeavor. For any MMO player, loot is a key factor in showcasing one’s dedication, time, and skill they have put into the game.
Blizzard is also responsible for the MMORPG giant World of Warcraft. This game also features an in-game auction house, but only allows players to purchase items of a certain rarity level, so the items that are more difficult to obtain. World of Warcraft’s auction house also functions only on in-game currency. Of course, there are ways around this, as players have found ways to cheat their way into attaining rare items, or go through third parties to use real currency to purchase gold from “gold farmers”. This, however, is considered cheating and is a highly punishable offense by Blizzard, possibly resulting an account ban.
In Diablo 3, the auction house functioned using both in-game gold, with the possibility to use real money to purchase items. This has sparked much controversy. Previous installments of the game had not featured a way to simply purchase items to “gear up” one’s character. On top of this, in the gaming world, spending real money to essentially increase one’s chances of winning is strictly frowned upon as something reserved for the casual whimsy of mobile gaming with “in-app purchases.” Diablo 3’s player base consists almost entirely of those who find such notions trifling, and the auction house shutdown is likely to be met with open arms.
Blizzard is not so cruel as to let all the loot currently on the auction house go to waste after implementing the closure. All loot and gold will be returned to the sellers and the buyers, respectively, unless a sale has been finalized, in which case the transaction will proceed. Players will be able to claim their gold and/or loot in their “Completed” tab until June 24, 2014. This is plenty of time for players to reclaim what they had.
While there are some who may be dismayed at the closure, overall this is a good move for Blizzard. Having a spot in a game generally accepted in the realms of higher gaming that allows players to essentially pay to win takes away from the overall experience of the game itself. As video games gain more and more popularity in mainstream culture, it is easy to see why a company would want to capitalize on a feature that can offer a substantial amount of income, on top of the revenue generated from the sale of the game. Doing so, however, also sullies the overall experience of diving into dungeons, fighting through monsters and finally getting to the treasure when the player sees someone obtain the same treasure simply by digging into his or her own pockets. Diablo 3 may just be better off with its auction house shut down for good.
Opinion By Michael Foster