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This article contains information that is no longer relevant to gameplay, but is kept here for informational purposes.
"The auction house came out of the desire to legitimize third party trading so that players would stay in the game to do their trading rather than go to third party sites, and as a result reduce fraud, scams, spamming, and the profit in hacking the game, making dupes, etc. The problem is, of course, it over-legitimized trading. It made it too easy. I think we all know this by now and the consequences. We worried about these consequences ahead of time, but we thought the benefits would outweigh the downsides, and WoW’s AH seemed like a good proof of concept. Obviously we were mistaken."— Jay Wilson(src)
The Auction House was a feature of the PC version of Diablo III. This allowed players to put items up for auction, bid and buyout. Two versions of the auction house existed. One used gold earned in-game while the second used real-world currency. Sales and purchases from the Real Money Auction House (RMAH) could be funded by either the players Battle.net account balance or a separate e-commerce service such as PayPal. The Auction House was introduced as a means of combating third-party trading of items. The developers were left with the choice of removing trading, or integrating it into the game economy, thus reducing the incentive to use third parties. According to Jay Wilson however, after release, it was clear that the Auction House had made getting items too easy. Within two months of the game's launch, he had come to regret implementing the Auction House, but wasn't sure if it should be shut down. While there was a lot of criticism from the playerbase towards the Auction House, the developers had to consider how many were using the service. Contrary to some players' beliefs, Wilson has stated that the Auction House was not pushed on Blizzard by "corporate overlords."
The Auction House's disbandenment was suggested by Josh Mosqueira, who had been brought in as game director. After a short discussion, the entire team, even those on the business side thought it would make the most sense. After this change, it gave the team the ability to make sure to reward players with better items, clear and concise tool tips, and Adventure Mode. Wilson supported his move, attributing Mosqueira as being the driving force for shutting down the Auction House.
The Auction House service was discontinued on March 18, 2014. Blizzard's original goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades, but it was found that the auction house undermined the game's loot-based gameplay. Subsequently, Loot 2.0 has been introduced in Reaper of Souls. Most, if not all, means of player-to-player trade were eliminated in result.