For some people it's hard to place a finger on what has made Diablo 3 a less satisfying experience when compared to its predecessors. For series fans the choice has been easy: that darn auction house.
Former Game Director Jay Wilson spoke at a GDC panel this week where he admitted that Diablo 3's auction house is a flawed system. He said:
[The auction house] really hurt the game.
He later added:
I think we would turn it off if we could.
The problem at this point is the auction house is the foundation for the entire experience. Loot drops are much more rare in Diablo 3 than both previous installments, but can more easily be turned into monetary value to purchase other items. Similarly, its entire trade system has been focused into the auction house making player trade almost non-existent. As a result, it's practically required that players regularly engage in the mind-numbing auction interface to progress their characters.
To make matters worse, the auction house is a very solitary place. You have to exit the game world to access it, and it feels like you're staring at an Excel spreadsheed. As many award-winning developers would tell you, placing barriers between gamers and their visceral gameplay is a huge no-no.
Diablo 3's auction house has fettered a proven formula. While Blizzard is aware, there isn't much it can do at this point. Blizzard's creative potential is being put to the test as one of its greatest franchises bleeds players after selling more than 12 million copies. The only savior at this point is the game's console versions which not only ditch the broken auction house system, but the annoying online DRM as well.