Diablo III’s Wyatt Cheng claims the game’s tuning wasn’t based on the real-money auction house

It was just a totally happy accident, we swear

    
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wot a coinkydink

Remember the Diablo III real-money auction house? Of course you do; that stuff is like horse armor or “you think you want it, but you don’t.” It’s timeless. Developer and Diablo Immortal game director Wyatt Cheng took to Twitter to insist that despite player perception, the game did not have its difficulty tuned to account for the inclusion of the real-money auction house; instead, it had been tuned around a great deal of grinding based on the design of Diablo II. The fact that these two design elements lined up perfectly was apparently something that never occurred to anyone.

Cheng went on to state that the obvious solution would have been more public testing, which makes a great deal of sense as Blizzard is famously a company known for carefully listening to public feedback during test phases. He also notes that it’s very difficult to iterate with major design pivots late in development, presumably because it would be very hard to improve drop rates based on feedback that the drop rates were too low.

Source: Twitter via Wowhead
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Colton Blakley

Of all the things Blizzard deserves flak over, I truly don’t think the auction house in Diablo 3 is one of them. Because it seems like a good idea in theory. Giving players a way to monetize their grinding efforts. Being able to make money off of playing Diablo sounds pretty cool. I see the move as less of a scandalous micro transaction implementation; I believe it was legitimately an idea that seemed good to them at the time but turned out to be a flop. That is forgivable.

Dani Reasor
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Dani Reasor

Diablo II players created their own underground auction system, and Blizzard was within their rights to move it into a system that they could operate instead of letting third party sites make money off of Blizzard’s property.

That was never the problem. The problem was that there was no offline mode for players who didn’t want to buy and sell with other players at all. Diablo III launched with a de facto always online DRM, a single player game with inexcusable lag and rubberbanding back when the servers were active.

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Reginald Atkins

uhh huh… sure it wasn’t. While we’re at it I have some great real estate in Florida I’d like you to check out and if you ever need a bridge, I know a guy.

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

Oh yes sure, because everything a corporate figurehead says to deflect blame is automatically true and give us more money.

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Dug From The Earth

Yeah, I havent believe much of what this guy has said since a couple blizzcons ago.

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Arktouros

TBH I’ve paid more attention to him after the fact because I absolutely 100% see myself being thrown up on a stage, having it all ending up badly, trying to rationalize some answer and blurting something out like “Don’t you guys have phones?” myself. That guy was like pure 100% engineer right there thrown out into the deep end.

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Dug From The Earth

except this said engineer sure seems to get the spotlight often enough, which isnt very engineer like.

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Greaterdivinity

Did he say anything dishonest though? I mean he had the unfortunate job of revealing a deeply unpopular game that he absolutely had to defend from “out of season april fools jokes” which we can all laugh about, but I don’t recall him saying anything dishonest or anything.

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Schmidt.Capela

What I wonder is who thought it was a good idea to present Diablo Immortal the way it was presented, in the presentation slot usually reserved for Blizzard’s most important announcement for the year. Because whoever made that decision was clearly way out of touch with Blizzard’s fanbase, and was the main responsible for that whole debacle.

If instead Blizzard did it like the announcement of Heartstone — which was announced at a PAX rather than in a Blizzcon — most of the issues would have been avoided.

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Knecht_Rootrecht

Politics, the former CEO of Blizzard Mike Morhaime had just left the studio. Activision was taking the reigns and making decisions. J. Allen Brack who followed Mike Morhaime was acting more like a middle manager to Activisions demands than leading Blizzard. His lack of leadership ability directly contributed to the scandals that followed.

Also Heroes of the Storm was receiving a very public statement about the cancellation of esports events and further development, in a way Blizzard would have never done it in the past. I think it was a message from Bobby Kotick to Blizzard employees: I am in charge now and won’t hesitate to wield the axe.

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Arktouros

Yea I think that’s the real challenge in a lot of scenarios because customers/people want more access to developers and see things and it’s like nothing prepares you for getting up on a stage and just bombing like that. Casual interview or something okay if it isn’t that great it’s still a convo between a few people. But then you’re up on that stage, no one is happy, and you’re just panicking, mind racing for anything to try to assuage the scenario and you come out with this totally technically true thing that obviously wasn’t going to appease anyone. It’s just all very engineer and I empathize with it.

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Bryan Correll

Maybe he’s got more public speaking experience than anyone else still there.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Uhn. It always seemed to me “you guys have phones?” was a variation of what this primarily PC dev team were being told and said among themselves a gazillion times. “These guys have phones, don’t they? It’ll be fine.” So, when he comes under pressure he blurts out the thing they’ve all been holding on to.

That’s always been my read of it.

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Boe_Jlobers

Interesting to wait until D2R to say this…. cuz now D2 is fresher in peoples minds and people are going through the D2 grind and it’s orders of magnitude less than D3

I beat D2 hell Baal this week with a sorc after pretty casual play since launch. I remember getting into D3 and spending a week on one act as you just hit a total brick wall on the higher difficulties.

I never did finish D3 while RMAH was in, it was such a joke. Played for 2 months and just left.

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Bryan Correll

It may not have been balanced around the REAL MONEY auction house, but it was definitely balanced around the auction house in general. D3 pre-expansion had a bias against dropping loot that would be useful for the character being played. I would continue to believe that even if the entire development team released a statement denying it signed in blood.

I got great drops all the time. That is, great drops for other classes. So I sold them on the AH (not the RMAH, I never touched that abomination) and used the proceeds to buy the stuff I could use.

And I’m not opposed to auction houses in arpg’s in general. Hell, I play PoE in SSF (solo self found) mode even though it means I’ll almost never have really great gear because trade in that game is so poorly implemented that I don’t want to fool with it at all. If there was a non-annoying trade system I’d be part of it, though.

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Greaterdivinity

Check the GDC talk, which explains that the reason they were so stingy with loot was because they were looking to D2 after an expansion and a decade of play and how folks were still finding “new” things (I don’t know if they were) and they wanted D3 to have a “tail” like that. So they thought being stingy with loot was the best way to keep the grind “fresh”, and weren’t factoring in that D2 was able to do that only after the release of the base game, expansion, and some additional updates that helped the multiplayer stay alive for a really, really long time. They thought they could skip right to that point out of the gate.

It clearly didn’t work. And for the drops for other classes, that’s exactly how D2 worked and wasn’t any kind of intentional design related to the AH. I actually strongly dislike that element of D3 since it made finding gear for other characters really lame.

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Bereman99

That they thought they could do all that, AND have a system in place that involved selling to/buying from potentially thousands of other players (thus giving you convenient access to a larger selection of items than something like a trading forum might), and have it work is just…

Kind of mindboggling.

Having a long tail like that in terms of finding gear basically requires a certain amount of friction between the player and the item.

An auction house works counter to that friction.

Feels a bit like “you think you do but you don’t” level hubris from someone or several someones in thinking they could make those obviously disparate elements not work against each other.

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Axetwin .

This is the only correct answer.

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Schmidt.Capela

AFAIK it was not biased, which was the whole issue. With 5 classes (at launch), it meant 80% of the drops were for other classes, so 4 in 5 good drops would be something your class can’t use.

It’s quite easy to become irritated with the loot system if 80% of the good drops are things your character can’t use.

Aldristavan
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Aldristavan

I vaguely recall paying $2.17 for a half-decent yellow sword because the drops were so abysmal. D3 has come such a long way since then!

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Wilhelm Arcturus

I mean sure, he can say that the auction house plan and the horrible itemization and drop rates were independent, but now they’ve changed from “we were evil” to “we were really dumb… twice!” Or maybe “we really didn’t know our players despite all the evidence provided over the previous decades.” Is either really better?

To paraphrase another quote, “Don’t you guys have institutional memory?”

Seriously, D2 had a huge gear economy, including an illicit RMT gear market, and they brought that into D3. What did they think was going to happen?

The bad itemization made people go to the auction house… gold or real money… to fix their gear issues. And the end result was killing the auction house and fixing itemization in the very same patch. The two issues are linked in the minds of players for good reasons. Blizz made those choices and publicly united them in their reaction.

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Nathan Aldana

the thing is it wouldnt surprise me because everyone nostalgia goggles D2 and D1 but a good deal of endgame was literally just “grind until your eyes bleed” until the market was flooded with SoJ based trading.

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Schmidt.Capela

Which is why I never played those games online. I kept to local multiplayer and used character editors for gearing (and respeccing) purposes.

I mean, the games had the seeds of greatness in them, but in the way they were released they would never be enjoyable for me.

Caveat: I hate RNG in gearing, so my perceptions are colored by that.

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IronSalamander8 .

Never played D1 but D2 did go that route. I liked leveling up all the characters and finishing the story including the expansion to a point, but after that it just became that tedious, boring grind that plagues D3 as well, especially all those rifts and the seasons. This is one reason why I had zero plans to get the remastered version of D2 and no interest at all in D4, even without all the internal rot of Blizzard that has come to light.