“It became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it,” writes Blizzard’s John Hight, “it ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that we’ve decided to remove the gold and real-money auction house system from Diablo III.”
While the details are still being worked out Hight says the auction house will be shut down on 18 March, 2014
Blizzard also posted this video explaining their decision to scrap the acution house:
Both the real money auction house and the in-game gold auction house will be shut down.
This all ties into the new loot system being developed for the Reaper of Souls expansion. Blizzard are calling it Loot 2.0 (which sounds silly) and what it means for players is fewer drops but with a higher chance of being better quality. They talked a little about this before announcing the expansion.
Diablo 3’s former game director, Jay Wilson, openly criticised the auction houses following his departure, claiming that Blizzard would “turn it off if we could.” Looks like they found a way.
Of course, without the auction house, that means no more fire sales: