Blizzard has temporarily disabled the Diablo III auction house after the game's recent 1.0.8 patch triggered an exploit which saw some users disrupting the game's economy by generating trillions of gold.
"After the release of Patch 1.0.8 this morning," said Blizzard on its forums, "we found that some players were exploiting a bug that enabled them to duplicate gold through the Auction House. We're working on fixing the bug right now, and bringing the Auction Houses offline helps us troubleshoot in a more stable environment while preventing further exploiting."
A post on the Battle.net forums claims that one Diablo III player has amassed 371 trillion gold using the exploit.
NeoGAF user fastford58 provided an overview of the problem, saying that crafty users exploited the relationship between Diablo III's gold and real-money auction houses to rack up huge sums of in-game currency.
"It started with the new patch today. Blizzard dropped the gold floor from .25 cents a mil to .25 cents per 10 mil. Enterprising players then bought gems for real money and converted them to gold. People were making billions on this. But then! A gold dupe has just been discovered with some streamers duping TRILLIONS in gold by playing around with the 2 auction houses."
Many users on Battle.net have taken to the Battle.net forums to request that Blizzard rollback their servers to before the patch was launched, which would restore all characters to their pre-patch state and wipe away the economic disruption caused by the gold exploit.
Blizzard, however, says a rollback is not necessary. "We feel that this is the best course of action given the nature of the dupe, how relatively few players used it, and the fact that its effects were fairly limited within the region. We've been able to successfully identify players who duplicated gold by using this specific bug, and are focusing on these accounts to make corrections. While this is a time-consuming and very detailed process, we believe it's the most appropriate choice given the circumstances."
Patch 1.0.8 for Diablo III was announced in April, and was primarily designed to enhance the cooperative multiplayer aspects of the game. Blizzard says over one million people play Diablo III every day.
Diablo III's decision to incorporate an auction house has remained controversial throughout the game's lifespan. Speaking at GDC in March, former game director Jay Wilson said the auction house had negatively impacted the game.
The upcoming PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions of Diablo III will not feature a real-money auction house.