Blizzard announced that they will be completely removing the Auction House after March 18, 2014. They provided a video to explain this decision and how it will affect the game.
But this does bring up something interesting in the idea of would they do the same to World of Warcraft? The Auction House system has been an integral part of MMO's since Final Fantasy XI introduced one of the first active trading systems. Before then upgrades were either done via trade chat or even sales from online sites such as Ebay.
The removal of an Auction House system will make the next Diablo Expansion that much more interesting in how it upgrades gear. Modern MMO's such as Marvel Heroes have yet to introduce an auction house and off server pages for trading have flourished. Pages such as Marko's DiabloIII Gold Guide site are already planning on transferring to off server trade auctions.
So what would happen if Blizzard decided to do the same thing and remove the Auction House from World of Warcraft? The normal Auction House has always been considered stable, and even the Black Market Auction House has been a popular addition to the Mists of Pandaria Expansion. The key difference between the World of Warcraft auction house system and the Diablo III auction house system is the Real Money Auction House. The addition of real money elements into the auction house system was the monkey wrench that brought the concept down.
Where all the money that was on the Warcraft auction house was ethereal in nature, Diablo III's version encouraged a much higher manipulation into the system. Players would spend hours farming Epic level gear to sell and rotate through the money making system. The system became flawed when inflation drove in game gold to become completely worthless.
When the Real Money Auction House was added to Diablo III I was excited with the concept. The one thing I think they missed was adding a limit to how much could be earned in real money. There may be few that were able to manipulate the system to their advantage, but even a few can cause chaos for a semi closed auction environment. On this and other journals it's been shown many times that a few can control the multitudes when it comes to pricing on gear and popular items. If someone needs a quick reminder of this go and sell glyphs on your server at 250g and see how fast it drops to 15g per.
This is in no way a condemnation of the players that took advantage of the Diablo III RMAH system. In fact,I admire their ability to balance the tediousness of playing the game and being shrewd in their monetary mechanics. It just is a shame that Blizzard has decided to completely throw out the baby with the bathwater instead of looking for a much better solution.
Good Luck and Good Hunting
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