Following the announcement of Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls, Blizzard has spoken to GameSpot about where the development team currently stands with two of the most controversial features of Diablo III: the inclusion of the auction house, and the lack of player-versus-player combat.
In an interview during Gamescom 2013, game director Josh Mosqueira said that the auction house would still feature in Reaper of Souls but that the game was being designed so that players will be tempted away from it.
"Trading items is one of the things you do in a game like Diablo," Mosqueira said, "and because of that we still feel that the original intent of the auction house--providing a safe and secure means of players to trade items--is still working really well. In fact, in the territories that don't have an auction house the number of account compromises is totally out of whack with the rest of the world."
"The problem is that we made the auction house too easy to use. There's not a lot of friction there. And that's really been a lot of the motivation behind Loot 2.0, to really make sure you're finding the best items in the most fun way possible: through playing the game."
Loot 2.0 is Blizzard's term to describe Reaper of Souls' new attitude towards item drops, with the expansion changing the game to drop fewer items, but of higher quality. Legendary drops will also feature more of an emphasis on modifying the skills of characters, encouraging players to think further about the way they spec their characters. Blizzard is also introducing Loot Runs, a randomly generated 15- to 20-minute dungeon which promises lucrative riches if completed.
Mosqueira says the in-game loot drops in Reaper of Souls will be more tempting than simply buying an item from the auction house. "We're really trying to tackle what I call the temptation factor of the auction house, which is making sure that players think, 'Yeah, I could probably find something in the auction house, but you know what, I could probably find something even better and more fun in the game.'"
As for player-versus-player combat, Mosqueira said that's "something we're still experimenting with." Blizzard had once planned to introduce a PVP arena mode into Diablo III at launch--even demoing the mode at Blizzcon 2010--but it never made the final game. A PVP brawling mechanic was added to the game in patch 1.0.7, released at the start of 2013.
"I can see it from a player's perspective," said Mosqueira. "'Yeah, Diablo is awesome. You click on things and things die. Imagining two players going at it would be awesome!'"
"I think the challenge, and what we're trying to find, is that Diablo III feels great moment-to-moment because it's a game that's really built around one player versus a horde of monsters. So there's a lot of [area of effect], a lot of control abilities, and the combat really works. But when it's put into player-versus-player, it really stresses those systems. We're experimenting. We're trying to figure out the right combination of things so that, at one point, we'll be able to say, 'Here we are!' That's going to be a really happy day for the community, and for the team as well."
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls will raise the game's level cap to 70, add the new crusader class, and feature a new fifth act for the campaign. For more details on the game, check out GameSpot's coverage of the game's announcement.