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Blizzard will shut down the real-money and gold auction house for Diablo 3. Today they updated the official FAQ for the shutdown with some new details on the process.
The developers will bring down the auction houses in all regions on Tuesday, March 18th at around 3 AM PT. The shutdown shouldn't interfere with your normal playing routine, even if you're a nighthawk. It's going to occur at the same time as the scheduled maintenance for the Americas.
All sales on the auction house at the time of the shutdown will expire. Items will be sent out to the highest bidders. If there were no bidders, the items will be returned to the seller. Any unclaimed equipment or gold can be found in the "Completed tab" for the auction house. In the real-world auction house, Battle.net Balance and PayPal transactions will be processed with the usual fees.
You don't have to worry about your auction house storage overflowing with all the expired sales. While the "Completed" tab of the auction house has a cap of 50 items, any additional items are stored in a backlog. These backlog items will appear as you start to clear out the 50 visible items.
Players will be able to access their unclaimed items and gold from the Auction House until June 24th. At that point, they'll be deleted from the game. However, Blizzard recommends that you clear out your auction house account well before that - ideally, before March 18th - to ensure that you don't lose anything in the shutdown.
"Your Battle.net Balance total will not be affected by the shutdown of the gold and real-money auction houses on March 18, 2014. In addition, players will still be able to use their Battle.net Balance to purchase a variety of services and Blizzard games from the Battle.net Shop," Blizzard adds in the FAQ. You won't be able to convert your Battle.net Balance to cash, though.
Blizzard first announced the auction house shutdown in September. The decision was driven by concerns that the auction house was making the game's progression less enjoyable.
"When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades," Blizzard said at the time. "But as we've mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, it ultimately undermines Diablo's core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot."
The closure of the auction houses means that players now have to acquire new gear through random treasure drops within the game. These random drops should be much smarter thanks to Patch 2.0.1, which launched last month. The patch's Loot 2.0 system ensures that players encounter more rares and legendaries. They're also more likely to find gear with stat bonuses targeted toward their class.
The auction house shutdown will happen exactly one week before the launch of Reaper of Souls, the game's first expansion pack. Reaper will add a new chapter to the campaign, a Crusader class, and an Adventure mode with randomized dungeons and bounties.