Diablo 3: Auction House Usability Revisited

It’s been a few months now since Diablo 3 was finally released. In that time we’ve covered usability issues with the Diablo 3 auction house twice now. And Blizzard hasn’t been resting either; a frequent stream of patches has brought changes large and small. Most recently, patch 1.0.4 made a handful of changes with the auction house aimed at improving its usability.

So lets take a look back at our previous articles on the topic and see what has and hasn’t been addressed in the original list of complaints.

Named Item Search (original article)

Searching the auction house in Diablo 3 offered the strange restriction that you couldn’t search for a named item along with any other criteria. Thankfully this restriction was lifted with patch 1.0.4, so now you can indeed search for a named item with specific stats. In fact, Blizzard did us one better and increased the number of stats you can search on (for all items, not just named ones) from 3 to 6. This was a really strange restriction that fell in the same camp as MLB 2K12’s breaking the laws of menu physics, and I’m glad to see it fixed.

 

Auction Sniping (original article)

As successful eBayers know, auction sniping is a key to success. Diablo 3 made it really difficult to find auctions that are ending soon because you couldn’t sort by auction end time. The 1.0.4 patch made this possible by just clicking on the appropriate header, probably exactly how players would expect this feature to work.

The bidding interface isn’t quite as sexy as eBay’s though, with no countdown timer or any other indication exactly how long is left when placing a bid. The most detailed Diablo 3 will report on an auction’s time remaining is >1 minute. While that means it’s difficult to snipe, if you don’t want to wait a day for an auction to end, it still makes life a lot easier.

Socketed Gems (original article)

When searching for items in Diablo 3, bonuses provided by socketed gems were all tallied together in the total stats for this item. That means it was pretty easy to make a weak item look a little better by adding a gem, and conversely it was a little more difficult to find the best items. This was also fixed in 1.0.4 – Diablo 3 no longer takes bonuses from socketed gems into account when searching for items.

This wasn’t a huge issue, but it definitely made it a little bit more frustrating every time you saw what looked like a great item, then realized it was just a “meh” item with a gem in it. With the ever-growing inventory on the auction house, just that little bit of improvement in filtering goes a long way.

Bonus Minimum Damage (original article)

In the original article we reported that the bonus minimum damage search was just broken – it didn’t actually do much of anything. Not only was this fixed in 1.0.4, it was also improved. You can’t actually search for “bonus minimum damage” anymore, it’s been replaced with “average damage”.

The downside of this change is that there used to be a direct correlation between the minimum damage on an item and your search criteria. Meaning, there was one field that you could look at and see exactly if that number was lower or higher than your search. The upside though, is massive – calculating damage on a weapon can get pretty hairy. Finding the minimum damage probably isn’t exactly what you want to do, because there are a lot of other stats that go into calculating damage.

The average damage is a more helpful stat to search for because it’s closer to the damage that you’ll actually be doing. Even if it’s a little confusing since you have to do some math to figure out how the game has calculated that average. It also means there is another damage value on the screen, of which there are already quite a few…

View Stats Only on Hover (original article)

Most of the important stats about items in Diablo 3’s auction house are found when hovering over the item. This hasn’t changed at all since the game’s release – trying to find something of interest in a huge list still requires hovering over a whole bunch of tiny targets. I’m not surprised this hasn’t changed; fixing it would be a pretty major visual change. It would be great, though I’m not holding my breath here.

Arrow Keys in Autocomplete (original article)

When typing in a search for a legendary or set item, a helpful autocomplete box pops up. Unlike every other autocomplete implementation though, this one isn’t accessible by the keyboard. This hasn’t been fixed either, and I’m not really sure why. That’s not true; I know why – it’s a super minor thing. But at the same time, fixing it would be a quick win, and there’s very little downside.

Not-Helpful Recommendations (original article)

The list of recommended items gives you a huge list of one thing that Diablo 3 decides you need to upgrade. My big complaint here is the game would be better off giving you just a handful of recommendations that are really tailored to your character for each equipment slot. It hasn’t gotten any better with the 1.0.4 patch; my character apparently needs an Amulet, and the game is suggesting about 300 to pick from, many of which aren’t really improvements at all.

Conclusion

So while not everything that was covered in the first two articles on the auction house’s usability has been fixed, Blizzard has definitely made a lot of progress. The small improvements that have been added aren’t going to make the back of the box – most players will probably have a hard time finding them all actually. But these sorts of minor tweaks can make the auction house feel a lot more polished, and can add up to some serious usability improvements.

Are there other changes in the auction house that you’d like to see implemented? Or how about other improvements that have been made since the game has launched that you’re really excited about? Let’s discuss in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Diablo 3: Auction House Usability Revisited

  1. Adding something to let you mark an item for comparing, even if out was only limited to 5 or 10 would be great, i’ve found myself with a sheet of paper and pen writing down the stays I cared about, item name, price, and page on several occasions just so I could get a good comparison.

  2. My main complaint is the lack of a # of bids column. This would be helpful in determining how much to bid, or what items are selling. The bid listed is often the starting bid.

  3. Yeah, I’d be interested to see how your needs would change if you were a Diablo 3 Power Seller so to speak. Being a still under-60 consumer seems like something quite different from all the guys at the top. Doesn’t seem like the auction house does much to cater to those who are really trying to price out their items for sale.

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