It seems safe to say the Blizzard view Diablo 3’s auction house as a necessary evil, at least to judge from our conversation with game director Josh Mosqueira earlier today at Gamescom. But for players concerned about account security, it may be a worthwhile exchange.
“The auction house is a really complicated issue,” he said. “Like it or not our players, or some of our players, attribute real world value to the items. So [if you don’t have an] item auction house, you’re going to see a lot of account compromises.”
Whether securing this previously gray-market interaction between players was worth the design trade-offs is something the community continues to debate. But according to the numbers Mosqueira shared with us, the auction house has gone a long way to combating the kind of account theft that once ran rampant.
“In fact in the territories where we do not have an auction house, the ratio of account compromises is [higher] than the rest of the world. So the primary [idea] of the auction house is definitely making sure that players can trade without worrying that [their accounts] will get compromised.”
It doesn’t sound like Blizzard are going to walk away from the auction house anytime soon, but Mosqueira admitted that they’re not entirely happy with the way it changed game balance. It’s something Blizzard are continuing to try and address.