Jay Wilson, Diablo III Director Admits Auction Houses "Really Hurt the Game"

Creating a stable economy in an online game is difficult to do – and the only people surprised to discover that were Diablo’s game director and the higher ups at Blizzard, it turns out. The game’s auction houses, which let players hawk in-game loot for virtual gold and real-world money, were a bigger draw than its creators expected. The result was bad news for the quality of the game, says former director Jay Wilson.

Diablo 3 Gold Auction House
Who knew gold could cause so much trouble? Image credit: Blizzard

Wilson, who spent seven years on Diablo III and left the game (though not Blizzard) earlier this year, commented on the game this week at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, CA. His lecture, “Shout at the Devil: The Making of Diablo III,” Wilson admitted that he underestimated how many players would use the auction houses, and that the players’ focus on the auction houses skewed the way he intended people to experience the game (from the way he intended). Interestingly, Wilson said that auctioning items for virtual money was a bigger problem for the game than the real-money transactions, negatively affecting in-game item pricing.