Auction House and You!

Well met, crusaders!


Today’s topic will be about the Auction House System in MMORPGs. The Auction House System, or AH for short, is a system that allows players to sell items to other players. The AH is a great way for players to easily access items for sell but at the cost of Social Interaction.

“Lots of MMOs implement it unthinkingly, because they believe it’s a mandatory back-of-the-box feature. Few MMO developers take the time to think about the ramifications of the feature“ (Heimburg).

 Auction House Affects Social Interaction

While the AH is a great way for players to find items quickly, it also reduces the interaction between the players.  The AH system reduces this Social Interaction by separating the players from each other through a menu system. Instead of the player negotiating the price with the other player that is selling the item, the seller can now ignore the buyer by placing their item for sale on the AH. The buyer can then buy the item from the AH without even talking to the seller.

While some might say that the AH is a great way to reduce the time to search for items, I disagree on the way it is implemented. By eliminating that interaction between the buyer and seller, the Social Interaction in-game is reduced and replaced by an easily accessible system.

 How to Improve Social Interaction

Developers need to understand that creating new easily accessible mechanics can also hurt Social Interaction if implemented wrong. The best way to fix this is to find a way to bring back Social Interaction in trading. Let players find ways to trade with players through shops or markets. Create locations or areas where players can find items they want. Let players interact with the merchants and negotiate prices.

Let the economy thrive not on a AH system but by person to person.  This can help create relationships between buyers and sellers and can create a healthy trading interaction between them. Players can then add them to their friends list for future purchases or references. By letting players do the talking, the community can start to increase in player interaction.

 Final Thoughts

The AH system comes in handy but if Social Interaction is the cost then it is better to find another way to help players trade items to each other. AH divides players from each other and reduces the interaction between sellers to buyers. This interaction that was eliminated is important for a healthy community. By replacing the AH with a better system that provides this interaction, the players can then build relationships with each other.

The future of MMORPGs needs to be aware of this decline in Social Interaction.  It is up to us, crusaders, to spread the word! Ask yourself this;

“Why then have massively multi-player online games become so anti-social?” (Wolfshead)

 The truth is in the design!

Join my crusade and together we can find the truth!

For those that have just joined, I go by the name Raistmere. Just like you, I am a MMORPG player. My passion lies in the design of MMORPGs. As a student of video game design, I seek to bring back the roots of what MMORPGs were design for.


Heimburg, E. (2012, September 10). The Case Against Auction Houses. Elder Game. Retrieved from

Wolfshead. (2011, February 9). MMOs were originally designed to be shared social experiences. Wolfshead Online: MMORPG Design and Commentary. Retrieved from were-originally-designed-to-be-shared-socialexperiences/#a3ac3

3 thoughts on “Auction House and You!

  1. Hello! I really like the style of your blog.The way you implemented quotes looks very nice. Centering the sub headings gives it a very nice style as well. Your use of the inverted pyramid style is great, many times people forget to get right to the point but your first sentence lets people know exactly what is happening in this post. As an MMO player, your ideas are very intriguing as I have noticed as well that interaction in many MMOs have been limited in favor of streamlined, quick systems.

    I agree that many auction house systems are a prime example of this happening. Your active voice at the end advocating action for this issue has very strong style and really hammers your point home. There is not much I can think of for you to fix, besides possibly the capitalization error with “Social interaction”, although this may be intentional. Either way, I really enjoyed your blog post and I will make sure to keep reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been a long dissenter of the subversion of social interaction in MMOs to the all-encompassing god of ‘give the players fun.’ But I believe that the AH system is not at fault here, and actually is one of the few aspects in modern MMOs that add something to the game. The AH was an afterthought tacked on by Blizzard when they released WoW. They didn’t make it shiny or spruce it up to be fun, and it became THE mini-game within the game as a result. Witness the number of blogs that revolved around the AH with the Greedy Goblin just one excellent example.

    The AH was in WoW from the beginning, and up to the end of the Burning Crusade WoW was a very social MMO. So to say the AH was part of the problem is not accurate. You don’t create a social world by forcing the players to relentlessly crowd the chat channels trying to flog their wares. On the contrary, the opposite happens – players will just offload everything to npc vendors, the reason being that not only is the whole thing too hard, but they don’t know the value of what they’re selling or buying. With no AH there is no guide as to an item’s worth, and players do not like feeling that they’ve been ripped off. I discovered this by playing Elder Scrolls Online which has no AH, which is hilarious in itself as the game designer created what is in effect a complete single player RPG MMO and then as a sop to social interaction declared that there would be no AH.

    At the moment I’m playing ArcheAge which has an AH. The game is the most social MMO I’ve played. However, with an AH there are still plenty of players trying to sell items over the chat channels. The reason being that they want to avoid paying the AH fees. The world has a thriving economy, (TESO’s economy was non-existent), an AH and plenty of social interaction.

    An AH plays an important part in setting the foundation for an economic virtual world and it can become a mini-game into itself. You want the real villain that set the scene for virtual world social destruction?

    The looking for group feature.


  3. I’d love to see MMORPGs go back to where most trading is between the player characters. If they really wanted to add some kind of auctioning, I think live auctions would be quite interesting. Live auctioning where characters are actually present in a certain location and actively bidding in person on whatever item is currently being shown, possibly on a stage? I think another name for that is an English auction.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s