Apart from the always-on requirement, Diablo III's most contentious design decision among players was the introduction of the real money and gold auction houses. While it's no doubt helped the company's bottom line, former game director Jay Wilson conceded at this year's GDC that the feature "really hurt the game".
A story over on Joystiq highlights the relevant portions of Wilson's talk at the annual conference. Originally, Blizzard was confident the auction houses wouldn't see a lot of use and that natural market forces would control item availability and prices. Skull smashing would remain the predominate way for players to obtain better gear.
Unfortunately, the reality turned out to be entirely different, with Wilson stating that some 50 per cent of the game's players regularly hit up one or both auction houses for gear. (He also revealed that Diablo III sees around three million players per month.)
So disillusioned with the way the auction houses have driven players to farm gold, rather than tackle the game's Big Bad, Diablo, Wilson said that if the company could shut the feature down without throwing the game on its head, it would. It's apparently investigating its options, but Wilson did not expand on exactly what those options might be.
If you're still playing Diablo III, how do you think Blizzard could replace/remove the auction houses?