Diablo 3 senior game designer Andrew Chambers recently said during an "Ask a Dev" session that players acquiring most of their gear through the Auction House is a definite issue. The team wants players to feel like they own their gear, and not merely "renting" the goods. This is why new crafted items are now bound to player accounts.
"Making the new crafted items account bound was done for one very distinct reason: to give players more incentives to play the game rather than the Auction House," added designer Travis Day. "Something we discuss frequently is how the Auction House has impacted the game and how we can refocus players away from farming the Auction House and onto farming monsters."
Day added that Demonic Essence was made account bound to encourage players who wish to create the new items to play the game rather than head into the Auction House and buy all the mats necessary to mass-produce the items.
"For that same reason we wanted the product of the recipes to be account bound as well," Day said. "We want players to not only find or produce their own items more often but also diminish the impact the Auction House has on the game, and we felt like this was a good opportunity to take our first steps in that direction."
Shortly after the launch of Diablo 3, former game director Jay Wilson defended the addition of both in-game gold-based and real-world cash-based auction houses, saying that the core of Diablo is a trading game. In Diablo 2, players bought equipment, but not in a service provided by Blizzard. He also said the best items to acquire will be through trade.
"My general response to [critics of the real money auction house] is if they didn’t think real money was involved in Diablo 2 then they were fooling themselves because it absolutely was," he said. "And it didn’t ruin that game so we don’t believe it will ruin Diablo 3."
But players have reportedly felt different, that they're spending too much time farming the listings for new items rather than playing the game itself. Blizzard obviously agrees in the latest patch, v1.03, which helps players focus on the adventure, not the auction.
"No matter what we do, some players are going to have vastly better gear than others, and that’s probably always going to be the case depending on your level of investment," added Diablo 3 senior technical designer Wyatt Cheng.