Jay Wilson - "auction house really hurt the game"

Posted by Admin DHAdmin on 3/28/13 04:57 PM #1
Posts: 938

Joystiq spoke with Jay Wilson:

Former Diablo 3 Game Director Jay Wilson admitted during a talk at GDC 2013 in San Francisco that both of Diablo 3's Auction Houses (both the real-money and the in-game gold item auction house) "really hurt the game." Wilson said that before Blizzard launched the game, the company had a few assumptions about how the Auction Houses would work: He thought they would help reduce fraud, that they'd provide a wanted service to players, that only a small percentage of players would use it and that the price of items would limit how many were listed and sold.

But he said that once the game went live, Blizzard realized it was completely wrong about those last two points. It turns out that nearly every one of the game's players (of which there are still about 1 million per day, and about 3 million per month, according to Wilson) made use of either house, and that over 50 percent of players used it regularly. That, said Wilson, made money a much higher motivator than the game's original motivation to simply kill Diablo, and "damaged item rewards" in the game. While a lot of the buzz around the game attacked the real money Auction House, "gold does much more damage than the other one does," according to Wilson, because more players use it and prices fluctuate much more.

"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson said during his talk. But the problem is "not as easy as that;" with all of Blizzard's current players, he says the company "has no idea" how many players like the system or hate it. Blizzard, Wilson said, doesn't want to remove a feature that lots of players will be unhappy to see go. But he did say that the team is working on a viable solution, without giving any other details about what that would be like.

Posted by Member ecocd on 3/28/13 05:21 PM #2
Posts: 1059

They. Are. So. Dumb.
Posted by Member shniggies on 3/28/13 05:26 PM #3
Posts: 909

this shows how out of touch they are... how could they make those assumptions? if they had any decent understanding of their fan base and the community, they would understand that those things would 10000% be used and exploited to the max
Posted by Member Khan on 3/28/13 06:55 PM #4
Posts: 1195

Demonstrates that they really didn't have clear cut objectives regarding the game.
Posted by Member arpger on 3/28/13 07:22 PM #5
Posts: 58

The auction houses are a difficult problem for Blizzard I think. On one hand, they make the gameplay more enjoyable by making players less reliant on the auction house. Yet a lot of their revenue from Diablo 3 is probably coming from these auction house transactions. It is really surprising, though, that Blizzard wouldn't have anticipated these issues.
Posted by Member baccarat0809 on 3/29/13 07:31 AM #6
Posts: 376

There's ZERO CHANCE that I believe Jay Wilson - yet again - that they thought only a few people would use the RMAH. They saw how much money they lost in D2 and wanted a way to capture at least part of that income in D3. The only reason the RMAH was setup for in the first place was for micro transaction income.

Regardless of me personally profiting from the RMAH - and damn, there's no other game I would rather play than a game that I can actually make money on - I think Jay is an absolute ass and that ego is completly out of control and once again he's showing he has no clue what his audience wants.

I bought the game because I LOVED D2. I play the game now because I love the Auction House and would have been long gone because the content is so poor and the re-playability of the game is terrible.
Posted by Member zerokewl on 3/29/13 07:58 PM #7
Posts: 816

I bought cause I liked D2 and friends played. I still play it because of this site!and the community!
Posted by Member ka5an0va on 3/29/13 08:32 PM #8
Posts: 38

Grinding for many many many hours. Loot drops quality sucked. Legendary quality sucked even more. Who doesnt get bored??? Another thing prices are a mess even lesser will to play.
Posted by Member DePablo on 4/4/13 12:41 PM #9
Posts: 51

I didn't think it was possible for Jay Wilson to irritate me after leaving Diablo 3. I was wrong.
Posted by Member ecocd on 4/5/13 11:14 AM #10
Posts: 1059

I’ve been thinking about the idea that Jay Wilson and a vocal section of the fanbase that say the Auction House ruined the game. I vehemently disagree. I know I’m preaching to the choir, for the most part, since DiabloHub started as DiabloRMT, but the Internet is nothing if not a forum for shouting opinions into the wind and here’s mine. Let me know which parts you agree with and which parts you disagree with and other observations. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about this for the past two weeks and I would love to hear some additional perspectives.

The first problem I have with their comments is that you don’t need to use the Auction House to play the game! Right now! No one is forcing you to click the Auction House Button! No one! Play self-found if you want. You won’t interrupt my gameplay. You can still go onto the forums and see if someone will take pity on you and trade your crappy IK boots for some crappy Natalya’s boots. I bet anuiran would even create a threaddevote specifically to self-found trading.

You know why no one plays exclusively self-found? It’s not fun. To get past Hell Belial or Diablo takes 10+ hours of item hunting Act 2 Hell. I know, because I did it when I first started with my DH. It was mind-numbing doing Butcher run after Butcher run after Butcher run to get enough Armor, Vit and Dex to kill him before he killed me.

Everyone seems to think that when playing self-found, Diablo 3 would be full of finding “holy crap!” upgrade items every 20 minutes. At 0% MF, do they know how often rares drop? Practically never. Not only are they very uncommon, they’re overwhelmingly 4-affix rares. 2/3 of those rares have the wrong base stat and how many of them waste two mods with Life Regen and Arcane Resistance? It’s exciting to see one drop at first, but if you’re only leveling one class at a time, those rares get just as boring as they are now.

The second problem I have is that it entirely ignores the fact that the AH is the only reason there’s any build diversity at all right now. The dumb-ass skill system and terrible itemization means the only way to play different builds is to re-gear a character nearly head-to-toe. One build might require CC/CD. Another might depend on IAS/base stat. This means that it could take over 100 hours to branch out to maybe 2 playable builds for 2 different classes.

If we had some way to improve the skills instead of the gear, then it would be a different story. In D2, a javazon could literally throw white javelins and still be a killing machine, because you just needed to improve your skills to make the build viable. By no means am I advocating the stance that “everything should be like D2,” because it shouldn’t. I like a lot of D3 more than D2. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that the item hunt in D3 serves a different purpose than in D2 not because of the AH, but because of the game design.

In D2, the item hunt was only a way to augment your character’s development. Sure, godly gear was necessary to do godly damage, but very good gear could produce nearly-godly damage. In D3, the item hunt is the only thing that matters in character development. That has nothing to do with the Auction House.

Practically every novelty build that people play exist solely because of the AH. It would take hundreds of hours to get enough quality gear to build up to 12 Spirit Regen for a fun Tempest Rush Monk. WW/CM wizards obviously wouldn’t exist at all. Hammer of the Ancients Barbs really need high CC and at least one piece of HotA reduction gear. WD may as well not even exist as a class, because the gear requirements are so high to kill anything. In fact, the only class that could be built into a self-found, reasonably efficient killing machine is the Barb because their skills are so insanely OP relative to the other classes. With the AH, the other classes now can make up a lot of that gap with great gear which wouldn’t be possible self-found. Everyone would have to have a Barb to farm enough ilvl 62-63 equipment to be able to play the other classes.
Posted by Member ecocd on 4/5/13 11:15 AM #11
Posts: 1059

The AH is not the source of all evil with Diablo 3. I would argue it’s the only reason there is an endgame. Blizzard released Diablo 3 with an ending. People did not expect a game with an ending. People did not want a game with an ending. The endgame now is really finding different ways to play the game. Without having the equipment for 2 viable wizard builds, 3 DH builds, 2 Barb builds, 1 WD build and 2 Monk builds, I know I would’ve stopped playing before Christmas. Diablo 3 has no replayability without the AH. To say the AH was a mistake is a sign of complete and total f***ing delusion about the quality of the game, especially the stat of the endgame.

Every half-wit game designer knows people will play “your” game in ways you would never imagine. If your game plays exactly to your original vision, you probably designed a game that will only appeal to people exactly like you. With the Internet, that may still bring in 25k people and you can make a living that way as an indie developer. If you want Diablo 3 to be enjoyed by millions of people, they’re going to twist your game and its systems up to and past the breaking point. You should be damn proud when they do and only micromanage things when the players break the game’s back clean in two (the infamous IAS nerf, for instance). Jay Wilson is clearly bitter that his vision of Diablo 3 wasn’t (a) the game players wanted (b) the game D3 has evolved into. I’ve generally taken his side, but having seen what the game has become in his brief absence and his aloof GDC commentary, I’m now a hater. He has it completely backwards and he’s too arrogant to see it.

I know there aren’t a whole lot of us left on these boards, but what are your thoughts? Any old-time lurkers feel free to chime in.
Posted by Member Khan on 4/5/13 04:23 PM #12
Posts: 1195

Posted by ecocd at 04/05/2013 11:14 AM

The second problem I have is that it entirely ignores the fact that the AH is the only reason there’s any build diversity at all right now.

Totally agree with everything but that up there is the keystone statement. The AH allows you to develop your character like a programmer would. No such thing as a DH with freeze ability? Then use gear with chance to freeze such as Azurewrath, Stormshield, and Star of Azkaranth.

The AH equates to build diversity.
Posted by Member baccarat0809 on 4/5/13 05:56 PM #13
Posts: 376

@ecocd. +1.

You most chilling comment, however is this

he’s too arrogant

While D3 is nowhere near the game I wanted originally, the only reason to play the game is the AH, IMO.

This game, for all the hype and the storied level of the franchise, is weak and pathetic, in terms of what could have been done, especially given the insane amount of time they had between the games.

One of his original comments about him knowing how we should have "fun" told it all to me. Jay is nothing more than an arrogant ass who has no clue who his customer is.

The possibilities for this game was endless - and we ended up with a game that was so small and trivial its just ridiculous.
Posted by Member arpger on 4/6/13 06:44 PM #14
Posts: 58

Yeah I totally agree that the auction house is the only reason that most of the builds in D3 are possible. Also, I must admit that I enjoy playing the auction house still and similarly I probably would have stopped playing the game long ago without it.

That said, I had the most fun with the actual game when I was leveling my first character before I was familiar with the auction house. Recently, I have really enjoyed leveling self found hardcore (when my chars were still alive), and have switched over to doing self found softcore with my 60s. While doing self-found probably won't keep me entertained for much longer, it's been a reason to play the actual game again.

Soon enough, I will be back to hopping on for fifteen minutes at a time to check auctions and flip items - and I'm happy with that!
Posted by Member akuno on 4/7/13 08:45 AM #15
Posts: 1

I would first like to say that i agree, with the current game how it is the AH is the only way feasible to get gear to make niche builds in any realistic time-frame.

However, I would just like to point out that the design drop rates are assigned taking the AH into account. If there was no AH, the devs would have substantially increased the drop rate of good items so that a self found play style would not be impractical as it is now.

The AH in the design phase made it near mandatory to be a slave to the AH, since the drop rate is set so that the AH is not flooded with items.
Posted by Member Mylton on 4/7/13 02:17 PM #16
Posts: 35

I have to disagree with Ecocd – I feel that the AH is exactly the reason for most of the things I have a gripe with D3 about by comparison to D2.

D2’s endgame was no more compelling than D3’s, how many times can you really care about killing Baal, or Mephisto, or Pindleskin? There is no more or less replay value there than there is in running the Arreat Crater or Tomb of the Ancients over and over.

D2’s “replay value” to me didn’t come from hour after hour of grinding out yet another run on those end-game bosses and uniques, Most of that gameplay time came in the mid-high levels (say 40 – 70) building up yet another character with a different set of skills.

You are right that it would take hundreds of hours of gameplay to build up the equipment for the niche builds we see in D3 – yet that is exactly what many people did in D2. How many mules did people have filled with gear for every conceivable build and at different levels, with and without MF. I had dozens upon dozens of characters I built up and abandoned when I would find something cool and decide “I want to build a (insert character class here) to use this. How many hors of gameplay would it take to build that character up, planning out every skill point, until you reach the item’s level requirement, then go digging through your mules for other gear that would work well for the build?

In D3 you would just portal back to town, fiddle with your skills, check the auction house and give it a whirl. 10 – 20 hours of D2 gameplay reduced to the time it takes to do a couple database searches in D3.

Why do I blame this on the AH? In my opinion many of the design decisions for D3 revolve around the AH’s existence and Blizzard’s desire to capitalize on microtransactions.

First, they decided to force online only gameplay. I believe at a core level this was done to force the entire gaming populace into exposure to the AH even if they choose not to use it. More exposure = more transactions = more profit.

Second, the online only nature of the game caused them to put a cap on the number of characters a player can have. When 100% of players are online allowing an unlimited number of characters would require a ludicrous amount of storage space – especially when accounting for players who have quit, mules, and other characters that are not actually be used.

Third, the limit on characters forces infinite/unlimited respect of skill selection. The player base is going to get pissed off if they have to delete their level 60 wizard to try out another build that may or may not work, or that they end up not liking the gameplay style of.

Fourth – as mentioned above the infinite (and instant) respect robs players of replay value by taking away the need to play through the early-mid levels with a given class.

Last, the item driven nature of character builds, again in my opinion fueled by the AH, prohibits characters from being powerful while using substandard items with interesting unique properties. How many mid-level items in D2 still saw occasional “endgame” use because they had useful and unique properties? Granted, from recent Dev comments it sounds like this point is being addressed through the next set of itemization changes.

All of that said, D2 and D3 are different games. I am still playing D3 and haven’t been back to D2 since launch so clearly I’m not that upset. I do feel D3 is a good game in it’s own right. However, I do wonder how the game might have turned out differently if there had not been an AH.
Posted by Member Bort on 4/7/13 10:52 PM #17
Posts: 551

Interesting discussion.

I agree with points from both @ecocd and @Mylton

I have the same feeling as Mylton that fixed skills were the major reason for me replaying D2. I would pick up a new item, and restart a new character just to utilize that one specific item.

BUT I also feel that the way D3 is currently the AH adds far more than it takes away. As an achievement hunter primarily there would have been no way that I complete HC inferno without the AH. That is not to say that it couldn't have been better without the AH. But then it would have had to been an entirely different game.

Was interesting that you both made your points with comparison to D2.

Is there anyone here that was not a D2 player? I think that it would be interesting to get some opinions purely based on D3, instead of what we D2 players wanted D3 to be.

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