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Auction Houses & aRPGs v MMOs

What I don’t quite get is why AH’s work for MMOs (my experience is with SWTOR) but not aRPGs.

In my, limited, experience with MMOs (played SWTOR for a good 4-5 years on release plus GW2 for a while), MMOs tend to have more limited gearing in terms of affixes (or equivalent) and the top tier stuff is unlikely to be tradeable since it’s usually only available via doing the top tier raids/PvP/whatever.

Are there any other reasons why AH’s don’t seem to work in an aRPG setting?

I get that devs in general want us to be out slaughtering mobs / playing the game rather than playing the AH, but why is this different from an MMO?


Mostly boil down to itemization and endgame activities I guess?

My quick response is that for ARPGs, loot is the main driver. In MMOs, it is the endgame activities themselves, e.g. raids and stuff. Also, some of best items in MMOs are tied to these raids or are part of a very lengthy quest which are not tradeable.

So because ARPGs are so centered around loot. A loot catalyst like AHs can very quickly destroy the entire gameplay loop. But in MMOs, you can be decked in all the best tradeable gears (heck, I could give you the best gears period), you might not be able to play your role in a raid.


I agree…

I have played WoW,GW,GW2,Perfect World and various others over the years and beyond the untradeable / gated gear in MMOs, I have always felt that MMOs rely more on the skills, situation knowledge and experience of the player than the gear…

I have played countless games with basically idiots decked out in the best possible gear who had zero idea how to play a particular raid, quest chain or even just efficient grind…

aRPG by comparison - if you find a top tier item the game can be noticeably easier at the same skill level as it boosts offense / defence noticeably… If in multiplayer, you play with someone, gearing is very important and can make a mediocre healer with poor timing / skill rotation seem perfectly adequate in all but the most difficult scenario.

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Long discussions with my son about this.
For him, HnS games can be good games, but the overall genre is bad, because the performance depends on the gear far more than on the player’s personal skills. And it’s globally true: a bad player with top notch gear can be very efficient.

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LE is definitely the aRPG that pushed this whole scenario waaaaaaay more on the side of player skills.

Especially regarding boss fights, since the boss fights are very similar to many MMO dungeon/raid boss fights, where you can basically avoid most of the damage from telegraphs.

While LE still requires good reflexes, the general pace of combat is within a range, where player decisions and skill matters way more comparedto alot of other similar games.

But generally i agree that in aRPG’s it’s about the gearing process and reaching this “godlike status”. So being able to get perfect gear via trading should not be a thing.


From all HnS I played, it’s true that Last Epoch is the best in this point of view.
It’s really on the good side of the balance, for sure!


AH’s in MMO’s are also “successful” due to gathering/crafting mechanics. Some people will buy raw materials and craft things to sell on the AH for profit. Some people just like the gathering of raw materials to sell. Some people find those things fun. LE also has a very watered down version of this. Crafting mats are just affix shards and there is no real way to get better at crafting (like leveling up crafting skills). The AH could be really bad for LE if it just makes lots of T20 gear constantly available.


Mostly what darkdeal said, typically crafting in games is used as a viable way to supplement gear and offer stronger equipment or more customized equipment. With the current system there’s not really a way to create equipment, just augment already existing gear.

I think if there were more weapon/armor type passives and bonus system in conjunction with the ability to create gear rather than augment it it could work. Especially if either added or reworked class skills gave gear-specific bonuses (I.e. Elder Branch’s axe buff and Ice Thorns emblem of might). This could create opportunities for gear-type specific builds that could utilize specific gear bonuses to be more effective.

However, from a design and balancing point of view that is a whole lot of time, resources, and effort just to make in-game trading possibly successful.

No matter what I do think the top gear should be non-trade able as that equipment is the main catalyst of doing end game content

I think it may also be worth it to point out that this is not 100% the case. It’s too much of a generalisation. Everyone seems fixated upon the AH failure in Diablo as defining the worth of an AH in the entire genre. There have been some lesser well known Aprgs that have had AH’s that have worked and ticked along just fine. My only real personal point of perspective in this one was Shaiya, which ran an AH which had its problems, but for the most part worked without killing the game or its economy.

There are many tools that can be attached to an AH that help in making it work. Account bound items after an AH transaction (kills flipping), non cancellation after listing (prevents fake listings), bot filtering (prevents economy manipulation by farm bots). Again, the fact that one high profile game got it wrong doesn’t kill the concept for an entire genre. This is where poe has got it wrong, they are obsessed with the D failure. It’s important for devs in games to think carefully about past mistakes and what caused them in other games. Most of the causes can be solved with the right mechanisms introduced from day one. Again, also think about the true purpose of an AH. Would they want it as an item finder, an economy creation tool, or a gold sink. The initial reasons for having one would dictate the prevention tools needed. Another type of example would be EvE Online. They deliberately set up a type of AH to create a mad economy that would be entirely player drive, scamming included. It still “worked”, but you had to know that you might be scammed going in.

I agree though with everything posted about balance being a key factor. The fact that LE have made an inspirational decision to make most of the balance about skills rather than equipment is imho why this game works so well at the moment.

In all of the examples of games I have played where it becomes more about the gear than the skills they all seem to get into insanely bad balance problems, and also economy/farming problems. It appears to me that once that coin is flipped and it’s all about the gear the game starts to go steadily downhill. At the moment there is a wonderful sense of balance in LE where you can do endgame in Tier B&C gear just fine, but it just becomes a little easier in A & God like stuff. That is the difference here atm I think. I do hope that doesn’t change.

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These are good ideas on how to make an AH work for any aRPG, including LE. I invite people to add more thoughts on this.

  • Account bound items after an AH transaction (kills flipping)
  • Non-cancellation after listing (prevents fake listings)
  • Bot filtering (prevents economy manipulation by farm bots) (not sure I fully get this one)

I’ll add my ideas:

  • On each item, add “AVG Sale Price”. This would be computed every time an item is sold, so players know if someone is below, on, or above the commonly asked for price. Works well for Uniques. Would have to have a heuristic for Exalted/RNG items. It might be a range rather than 1 number. i.e. “AVG Sale Price: 100-125 gold” This is calculated as the item is posted, not when it is searched (for coding/performance reasons), so it’s still an estimate.
  • Having a certain class of items (I’m thinking “Legendary”) be disallowed from the AH.
  • Invent a literal “AH Decay” mechanism. Every time an item is posted on the AH, the Decay counter goes up 1. Either place a hard limit (i.e. items can only be posted with 5 or less decay) or have the item begin to degrade (harder to code) the more its posted. This would be in addition to the “Bound on AH Purchase” idea from Maelstromicus above. i.e. some items are sell once, some items are sell X times. Can base it on rarity.
  • Each time an item is sold on the AH, its Instability goes up 1-5 points. So, if you want to buy a crafting base off the AH, its harder to craft on a little.

Add your own ideas.


Well, I’m happy we’re completely on the same page here Zaodon so we’ll have to find another future topic to disagree on somewhere else :wink:

I like your additional suggestions. All seem great to me, I especially like the “decay” mechanism idea. That’s novel, and a great suggestion to prevent spamming of the same item.
As far as what I meant by “Bot filtering”, I wasn’t entirely sure myself. I just meant prevent those damn bots from getting involved which seem to infect games once they become super popular and include an economy.

I honestly think there is a “reasonable” limit that can be placed on the amount of sales and purchases in a 1 hour period. I think we can extrapolate what the most prolific LE player (thinking pro-streamer) would be able to farm up and sell in 1 hour, double it, and put a buy and sell limit on the AH. This would at least make a small dent in botting. (I get that they make so many accounts that they can bypass such a limit, but at least make them pay that extra $ to buy those extra accounts!)

I also think you can add even more pain to bots, like, you can’t use the AH until you reach the End of Time. This still lets you (an account) buy on a higher level character and Stash items for their newbies, but makes it harder for bots.

Next, and this one is tough, but I think doable. (Warning: technical)
Bots use scripts to move characters through games. These are automated. I’ve heard they can even add things like random delays in between each “action” of the script, so that they take different amounts of time. But the actions are still performed the same “way” each time they are performed. Yes, they might even randomize the order of the actions. But the action itself is always identical (kinda has to be, its a script.) I will once again turn to a heuristic here and say that Dev could code for the same action “DNA” (same action imprint, or pattern) and when detected, simply place a block on AH transactions which match that imprint.

I know that’s a lot - here’s what it means. A player buying or selling items won’t do it precisely the same way (at a code level) each time. Their character will be in a different spot. They will search for different items. They will post things on the same character (because, why wouldn’t a legit player do that?) The heuristic can record each AH interaction and try to see if it detects any such “scripted” patterns. It then blocks that pattern from interacting with the AH. Note, it doesn’t block the account. It doesn’t block a character. It doesn’t block an IP address. It blocks a PATTERN. So, if a bot company is running a script on 100 PCs, all 100 will suddenly be prevented from interacting with the AH (the scripts will fail).

I’ve had this idea a long time - attack the root cause of bots - scripts. Detect and block the pattern itself. Force them to constantly rewrite and re-deploy the scripts.

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I like where the discussion has started to turn, because I disagree with the premise that AHs don’t work in ARPGs. If PoE added an AH and changed nothing else the economy would be relatively unchanged, and it would just be a little (lot?) more convenient to trade. In fact, the Playstation client has an AH, so they’ve already done it.

For a game like LE that wants a more limited trade system, some of the above suggestions from other posters that would limit what you can trade and how much you can trade would work well. This is why trade works so well in WoW but but didn’t work so well in Diablo. You can’t trade everything in WoW, and most of the top end gear is Bind on Pickup so trade is only effective in certain areas that the dev want. No reason whatsoever that a similar concept can’t work in ARPGs

But the PoE console AH doesn’t allow you to search for specific affixes or items, because Chris doesn’t want there to be frictionless trade for anything (not even consumables like maps & currency).

It would be very different thing if POE has an AH. Cutting out the “player interactions” actually changes everything. Unless said AH is just bringing the browser POE Trade page into the ingame UI.

It would probably destroy the currency exchange traders.

Which are mostly bots…

To be honest I think the only purpose poe serves in this debate is as a prime example of what NOT to do with trade.

I spent 3 years pulling out my hair with that debacle, and I can honestly say that it was the worst ever integration of trade into any game that II have ever played in any genre.


I’m interested to see how the devs decided to play with account bound gear and the new gear rarities I think I read are upcoming. For instance if endgame content is tailored more towards being kitted out in full uniques and purple gear and that gear isn’t able to be traded then the AH becomes a way to test a new build idea or fast track a new hero.

I think the major hang up I have with the idea is being able to hit lvl 75 then equip the best gear for your build from the AH and not getting that excitement from gear dropping or watching your performance increase in steps. Which all my heroes are SSF anyway, so I’m not really arguing for or against anything.

A few ideas a friend and I were kicking around that could limit this are:
-Gear that has been crafted on gets account bound
-Highest rarity and unique gear is account bound

Both of these ideas leave a measure of grinding in place (farm affixes or top gear) and make sure that leaderboards still require luck with your sheer endurance and skill to place on.

What exactly would it change, other than cut out a metric ton of negative social interactions?

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The negative social interactions is also the mechanism to introduce friction into POE trade. Making it frictionless will turn it into a very different trade system.