After what had to be a week full of exciting meetings and pats on the back, Blizzard has brought the Diablo 3 Auction House back up on a limited basis. Following last week’s devastating gold duplication exploit that resulted in trillions of ill-gotten gold flowing into the market, John Hight, the Production Director for Diablo 3, has released a detailed statement on the state of the game and what they’re doing to repair the damage. While it doesn’t involve a game-wide rollback, Blizzard is apparently confident that they can selectively audit and remove the duped gold.
Hight explained that the exploit involved a change in the stack size for purchasable gold on the auction house from 1 million to 10 million. Large amounts of gold placed up for sale and then cancelled would cause an overflow beyond a previously set limit, resulting in the player receiving more gold in return than he first put up for trade. Blizzard states there were only 415 players who had both the amount of gold on hand to produce the error and the willingness to take advantage of it.
The devpost describes their reasoning for not doing a rollback - the damage seems to be localized and not widespread enough to require eliminating several day’s progress for everyone. Instead, they are relying upon targeted audits, banning both the players who took advantage of the exploit and accounts that have acted as mules for the exploited gains.
“As of this this post, we have already recaptured more than 85% of the excess gold from the accounts involved, and over the days ahead we will continue to pore over our audit data to reclaim as much duplicate currency as possible. We've also done a full audit of our code to help make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.”
Blizzard is trying to take a scalpel to this problem rather than using the sledgehammer of a server-wide rollback, but what will happen to the controversial auction house moving forward? The game’s forums are filled with posts questioning its continued existence. Jay Wilson, the game’s former director has even publicly shared his disappointment with how things turned out. In a recent GDC Panel he said, "It's (Auction House) not good for a game like Diablo. It doesn't feel good to get items for money, it feels good to get items by killing monsters."
At this point, it’s not likely that the very vocal critics of the auction house will get what they want, as Blizzard is heavily invested in it for revenue generation and continues efforts to incorporate it into the Diablo 3 experience. Time will tell if the selective action Blizzard is taking to battle this latest public relations nightmare will result in a recovery of player confidence in the game.