Blizzard has announced a plan to close Diablo 3's real-money and gold auction houses next year, according to an announcement today by game director Josh Mosqueira and production director John Hight. Hight called the auction houses, where players could pick up hard-to-find, in-game items for real money or in-game currency, "a double-edged sword."
Although they were successful at creating a marketplace inside the game, the auction houses also affected something central to the action RPG's central appeal, according to Mosqueira. He went so far as to say the auction houses affected the "integrity" of the gameplay itself. "At the core of the Diablo experience is a promise of killing monsters, killing demons, for the promise of finding those epic items," Mosqueira said in the video above. "The auction houses made that experience way too convenient and really short-circuited our core reward loop."
It's not the first time we've heard about the way the auction houses can unbalance the game. In February developers had already announced that they were working to "refocus players away from farming the auction house and onto farming monsters." And back in the March, former Diablo 3 game designer Jay Wilson said the marketplace "really hurt the game."
For the players still heavily invested in that economy, however, there's still time to sell off their big-ticket items. The auction houses won't be closed for good until March 18, 2014, according to Blizzard.