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Former director says auction houses 'really hurt' Diablo 3

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At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, former Diablo 3 game director Jay Wilson — who stepped down after most of the game's negative criticism was directed at him — admitted that the auction houses "really hurt the game."

Before launch, Blizzard hoped the feature would reduce fraud and provide a valuable service to a small number of players that wanted it. The company also thought that the price of items would limit how much was listed and sold.

That plan backfired as every player made use of the houses, and 50 percent took to them regularly. Diablo 3 still has about 1 million players per day and about 3 million per month, said Wilson. Money became a much bigger motivator than the developer intended, and that "damaged item rewards."

The "gold [house] does much more damage than the [real-money] one does" because players use it more, causing prices to fluctuate. However, the latter received the most backlash from gamers.

"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson said. But Blizzard has no idea how much players are attached to the auction houses or how many hate the system. Removing the feature is "not as easy as" flipping a switch. It could upset players further.

Blizzard is working with Sony to bring Diablo 3 to PlayStation 3 and PS4, amending at least one mistake: The console versions will support offline play.

Follow @wita on Twitter.

[Joystiq]

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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