Blizzard has had a change of heart about the Auction House system it developed for its popular dungeon crawl game Diablo III. The company plans to shut down the auction house system in the game on March 18, 2014.
The auction house enabled players to exchange real-world money for items used in game. In creating the auction house, Blizzard sought to fix a problem that became a serious issue in World of Warcraft: People would resort to third-party services, in violation of game rules, to pay for rare in-game items. Blizzard figured it was better to bring the system in-house than leave it outside. Now the company feels that it's not the best solution to that problem any more:
When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades. But as we've mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, 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.
Diablo III production director John Hight explained in a blog post on Battle.net that the new Loot 2.0 system developed concurrently with the forthcoming Reaper of Souls expansion pack "will result in a much more rewarding game experience for our players." Reaper of Souls is expected in 2014, so it may be reasonable to infer that it will be released before or perhaps concurrently with the Auction House shutdown.
A video has been prepared to explain the shutdown.