Speaking to the audience during a session at GDC 2013, former Diablo 3 Director; Jay Wilson admitted that inclusion of Auction House in Diablo 3 “really hurt the game.”
The auction house system was mired with controversy from the moment it was announced to be part of Diablo 3 system. Despite the trepidations of long time Diablo series fans regarding the addition, Blizzard insisted that Auction House was a necessary component of the game. Once the game released, it was apparent that this new feature incentivized more time to be spent on spreadsheets rather than actually playing the game.
According to Wilson, Blizzard assumed that the Auction House would solve the issue of fraud from the next iteration of Diablo series and assumed that a very small percentage of players would actually use the system. However, once the game went live, they realized that everything was not how they perceived it to be initially.
Jay Wilson said that nearly every Diablo 3 player utilized the Auction House and that nearly 1 million players used it every day and 3 million per month with over 50 percent player base using it regularly.
While the Auction House system has “damaged item rewards” in the game, according to Wilson, Blizzard “would turn it off if we could,” however since so many players use the system so frequently the developer “has no idea” how many player like the system and how many hate it.
While he alluded that the team is working on solving the problem at hand, he stopped short of explaining what that fix might actually be.