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Auction House Hotfix to Slow Down Automated Addon Features

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It seems a stealth hotfix went live a while ago that affected the way some addons interact with the Auction House. Players noticed this effect and we now have an official statement from Blizzard clarifying the hotfix and its intentions. Some of the addons had automated functions, which gave players that used them an advantage, and Blizzard have given each player a "budget" of AH actions per minute if they exceed the limit.

They also stress that the current specific tuning is fluid and will be changed based on feedback.

Blizzard LogoAH (source)

Starting this morning, auction house interaction with addons (in my case, TSM) has gotten significantly slower after a certain number of queries. This impacts all auction house functions (searching, canceling, posting, and buying).

Here’s a bunch of data which I recorded which demonstrates the issue. Each row represents a single C_AuctionHouse.SendSearchQuery API call (all the APIs experience the same issue - this was just the simplest to test). This data was collected on US-Shattered Hands, which has generally been a very fast auction house as it’s a lower-pop realm. Each row consists of two values: the timestamp in milliseconds at which the API call was made and the time in milliseconds it took to complete.

Hello.

The performance reported above is expected and intended, following a hotfix that went into effect a few hours ago. The hotfix is intended to both address service issues, as well as address an imbalance between the vast majority of players and a very small minority.

Through our continuing work to address service issues as they crop up, as well as our constant efforts to find gameplay issues and fix them, we’ve observed that a small minority of all players generate the majority of Auction House traffic.

The players who generate all of the AH traffic are using addon-driven automation to gain a competitive economic advantage over other players, in addition to the increasing strain on the game service. Neither of these things is good for the game as a whole.

With this hotfix, we’ve implemented a new system that effectively gives each player a “budget” of AH actions per minute, and only kicks in once that budget has been exceeded. The system is tuned so that is should never affect players using the AH typically: buying consumables, listing gathered or crafted goods for sale, searching for specific items you want to purchase, etc. It should be essentially impossible to encounter the new limits for most players.

The new system will, however, throttle players who are using addons to run rapid queries to scan the AH for specific goods, or buy and relist huge quantities of items.

The current tuning values are a starting point for this. We very much welcome feedback on AH activities are hitting the throttle. If the current settings are too strict, we’ll want to relax these measures.

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Not a fan of this decision, but I do understand it. One thought though, perhaps instead of limiting this functionality to those with addons, Blizz could bake it right into the interface? I know. That's crazy talk.

I feel like this will be pretty easy for add-on developers to get around. Instead of scanning the entire AH, they could shift to only scan items in inventory. Ideally, they'd let us define which categories to scan. Don't know about others, but reagents and BoEs are the only reasons I have an AH addon at all.

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Absolutely loving this change! I use addons as well, but I have a lot more going on in life and game than to battle with auction bots. Even the legit people who are actually at the computer, running the super tweaked addons, are quite devastating to the market. Sadly, they are not the ones that will be losing out on the AH Mount... They actually appear to be the reason why it's getting removed from the vendor in Shadowlands. Took me the longest time to get the Mammoth vendor mount, but I knew it would always be available & years later, I had the funding to get it. Not gonna have that chance with the Bronto mount. At current rate of playing, will be another 1-2 years before I can afford it... but it'll be gone... and that sucks (yes, I know, it'll be on the BM AH, but at a cost that is waaaaay out of the question). TL;DR: Not a fan of a functional mount getting tossed due to AH abuse. Hoping this new system helps to balance out the market.

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2 hours ago, Gale said:

Not a fan of this decision, but I do understand it. One thought though, perhaps instead of limiting this functionality to those with addons, Blizz could bake it right into the interface? I know. That's crazy talk.

To some extent, being able to set up purchase orders would be fun. 

I think, though, that most of us don't really want to get into serious market manipulation, and personally at least, it does discomfort me that the market seems to be dominated by those who are. 

Obviously that's not a problem that can really be solved, and made more difficult by the fact that the people who really get into the economy are actually enjoying something perfectly valid, so you can't step on their toes.

Seems to me like this is a small move to constrain it a little; move the power a little bit away from the manipulators. It doesn't sound to me like they don't want people to use those addons at all, just that they'd rather they were so strong. 

Which seems reasonable?

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27 minutes ago, Halock said:

To some extent, being able to set up purchase orders would be fun. 

I think, though, that most of us don't really want to get into serious market manipulation, and personally at least, it does discomfort me that the market seems to be dominated by those who are. 

Obviously that's not a problem that can really be solved, and made more difficult by the fact that the people who really get into the economy are actually enjoying something perfectly valid, so you can't step on their toes.

Seems to me like this is a small move to constrain it a little; move the power a little bit away from the manipulators. It doesn't sound to me like they don't want people to use those addons at all, just that they'd rather they were so strong. 

Which seems reasonable?

Yep, it's pretty reasonable, but that doesn't stop the vast majority of comments on the decision to be extremely negative.

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1 hour ago, Starym said:

Yep, it's pretty reasonable, but that doesn't stop the vast majority of comments on the decision to be extremely negative.

Oh, that's just anything. ? I did have a quick look at the official forum thread, and was quickly reminded why I prefer it here. 

Can anybody confirm what the effect of this actually is? In the blue post they say that it should be impossible for a normal player to hit the limits and that if the limits are too strict they'll dial them back. Like I said above, I took that to mean that they don't want these addons to be non-functional, just less omniscient and demanding. But the official thread is filled with a lot of 'game literally ruined, worst change ever' comments.

Kneejerk, of course. But I'd appreciate it if somebody could tell me exactly what difference they're seeing.

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It's a great change as long it *only* really affects people and especially bots just playing the AH game by cancelling/reposting auctions every few minutes. 

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Uncommon Patron

blizzard really cracking down on those of us selling transmog gear huh, god forbid we supply the market with variable options of gear. literally takes 100 times longer, hey with any luck this destroys the transmog economy and allows me to jack up my prices 100 fold

Edited by Grumar

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16 minutes ago, Grumar said:

blizzard really cracking down on those of us selling transmog gear huh, god forbid we supply the market with variable options of gear. literally takes 100 times longer, hey with any luck this destroys the transmog economy and allows me to jack up my prices 100 fold

So your (and many other people's) complaint is simply that selling things now requires actual effort from you? This is along the lines of someone making an addon that just kills mobs for you and loots them, it remains active a while, then Blizzard disable it and everyone goes OMG NOW I HAVE TO ACTUALLY KILL THE MOBS MYSELF? Obviously I'm (slightly) exaggerating, but it really is basically the same thing. Automating things players have to do to interact with the game makes you not play the game. In this case that something is relatively tedious posting of items on AH etc, but hey, that's what you DECIDED to do to earn gold, instead of some other activity. Now it takes longer and is more boring, and is maybe more balanced with other gold making opportunities?

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32 minutes ago, huldu said:

It's a great change as long it *only* really affects people and especially bots just playing the AH game by cancelling/reposting auctions every few minutes. 

Which they can extrapolate data from based on how sharply the processing demands on the back end related to the AH drop. Being able to make gold is cool, but this isn't a day trading job where milliseconds should matter.

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20 minutes ago, Grumar said:

blizzard really cracking down on those of us selling transmog gear huh, god forbid we supply the market with variable options of gear. literally takes 100 times longer, hey with any luck this destroys the transmog economy and allows me to jack up my prices 100 fold

Considering the last change to the AH made goods with the same price sell LIFO, the only reason this "horribly" affects moggers is if you're using automation to continuously undercut each other.

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3 hours ago, SidonisAntares said:

Considering the last change to the AH made goods with the same price sell LIFO, the only reason this "horribly" affects moggers is if you're using automation to continuously undercut each other.

spoken like someone who has never used an AH addon or even bothered to play with the AH. having 1000+ transmog items, having a scan take 100x longer after the first 20 items just turned a 15 min job into a 3 hour job, what do you think is going to happen to the market? less items, less items mean higher prices, longer time commitment means higher prices. transmog just became one of the worst ways to make money, no one is going to bother doing it, that means getting mog items just became 100x harder or 100x more expensive. I never bothered undercutting i posted my items and went about my day, and yes this still very much effects me and anyone trying to keep a sizable transmog collection up on AH

3 hours ago, Starym said:

So your (and many other people's) complaint is simply that selling things now requires actual effort from you? This is along the lines of someone making an addon that just kills mobs for you and loots them, it remains active a while, then Blizzard disable it and everyone goes OMG NOW I HAVE TO ACTUALLY KILL THE MOBS MYSELF? Obviously I'm (slightly) exaggerating, but it really is basically the same thing. Automating things players have to do to interact with the game makes you not play the game. In this case that something is relatively tedious posting of items on AH etc, but hey, that's what you DECIDED to do to earn gold, instead of some other activity. Now it takes longer and is more boring, and is maybe more balanced with other gold making opportunities?

This is like saying no business that use any type of automation shouldn't exist, everything has to be done the old fashioned, just like real life you don't really understand it and it just sounds bad, oh wow these people are basically cheating, no not at all and it actually benefits you that we're allowed to do stuff like this, you're going to be crying when old mats just disappear off the AH and the ones that do exist are going to be 10x the cost,, transmogs that aren't super popular are going to be gone and slowly reappear at 50x the price  these addons help the community just as much as they do the seller. I don't have time to explain how markets work for you but rest assure this is going to have negative consequences especially for those on low/med pop servers. to put it simply you're basically turning the AH from amazon to a hoity-toity over priced store.

 it's hard to justify this change as anything besides making it harder to make gold in game to encourage the tokens.

Edited by Grumar

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7 hours ago, Grumar said:

spoken like someone who has never used an AH addon or even bothered to play with the AH. having 1000+ transmog items, having a scan take 100x longer after the first 20 items just turned a 15 min job into a 3 hour job, what do you think is going to happen to the market? less items, less items mean higher prices, longer time commitment means higher prices. transmog just became one of the worst ways to make money, no one is going to bother doing it, that means getting mog items just became 100x harder or 100x more expensive. I never bothered undercutting i posted my items and went about my day, and yes this still very much effects me and anyone trying to keep a sizable transmog collection up on AH

This is like saying no business that use any type of automation shouldn't exist, everything has to be done the old fashioned, just like real life you don't really understand it and it just sounds bad, oh wow these people are basically cheating, no not at all and it actually benefits you that we're allowed to do stuff like this, you're going to be crying when old mats just disappear off the AH and the ones that do exist are going to be 10x the cost,, transmogs that aren't super popular are going to be gone and slowly reappear at 50x the price  these addons help the community just as much as they do the seller. I don't have time to explain how markets work for you but rest assure this is going to have negative consequences especially for those on low/med pop servers. to put it simply you're basically turning the AH from amazon to a hoity-toity over priced store.

 it's hard to justify this change as anything besides making it harder to make gold in game to encourage the tokens.

This isn't a business, it's a game. All of your justification is based on treating this like an actual job.

The most effort I've put into this game was cell phone call lists to deny @Starym world spawns back in Vanilla, and even then I didn't sweat it if I missed out on some. It was just in good fun.

Edited by SidonisAntares

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I thought anything that automates game play is against TOS(that includes the AH). Why throttle the number of auctions they create/buyout?  Blizz should ban the Addon's and give the offenders a week off.

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19 hours ago, Halock said:

To some extent, being able to set up purchase orders would be fun. 

I think, though, that most of us don't really want to get into serious market manipulation, and personally at least, it does discomfort me that the market seems to be dominated by those who are. 

Obviously that's not a problem that can really be solved, and made more difficult by the fact that the people who really get into the economy are actually enjoying something perfectly valid, so you can't step on their toes.

Seems to me like this is a small move to constrain it a little; move the power a little bit away from the manipulators. It doesn't sound to me like they don't want people to use those addons at all, just that they'd rather they were so strong. 

Which seems reasonable?

I guess my point is, if the information is made broadly available as part of the default interface, then there is no manipulation.

Include a 30/60 day average, and you'd effectively erase abuse entirely.

To my thinking, this isn't the sort of problem that Blizzard buries by limiting visibility into artificial markets. Addon developers will find a way. They'd do far better to put it all into the light.

Note: On the topic of addons, Blizzard's logic here could be reasonably applied to any of them. Addons provide an advantage that is not present for those without them. I dislike slippery slope arguments, but where does this stop for them?

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6 hours ago, SidonisAntares said:

This isn't a business, it's a game. All of your justification is based on treating this like an actual job.

The most effort I've put into this game was cell phone call lists to deny @Starym world spawns back in Vanilla, and even then I didn't sweat it if I missed out on some. It was just in good fun.

That was YOU?!?! Nah but seriously did we play together/same server?

13 hours ago, Grumar said:

This is like saying no business that use any type of automation shouldn't exist, everything has to be done the old fashioned, just like real life you don't really understand it and it just sounds bad, oh wow these people are basically cheating, no not at all and it actually benefits you that we're allowed to do stuff like this, you're going to be crying when old mats just disappear off the AH and the ones that do exist are going to be 10x the cost,, transmogs that aren't super popular are going to be gone and slowly reappear at 50x the price  these addons help the community just as much as they do the seller. I don't have time to explain how markets work for you but rest assure this is going to have negative consequences especially for those on low/med pop servers. to put it simply you're basically turning the AH from amazon to a hoity-toity over priced store.

 it's hard to justify this change as anything besides making it harder to make gold in game to encourage the tokens.

I only meant that the game is made to be a certain way. It allow addons but obviously some addons push the limits of what Blizzard think the game should be. I really won't be crying or caring about mats on the AH, if the situation changes then I'll adapt, that's what the game is about. We didn't have these addons a while ago and we all still enjoyed playing. I understand this hurts you personally on an ingame (and maybe off-game?) financial level, but I don't think the game should be tuned around that.

I have no idea and no reason to think Blizzard's motivations on this are anything but what they said (although what you say is also totally plausible), but to me disabling something that was not present until however many years ago isn't as huge a deal as you portry it to be. The "market" worked just fine before this fetaure of the addon and will work just fine without it. I'm genuinely sorry if the change impacted you negatively but I can't agree with the general idea that just because something worked and made things easier it should perma be untouchable and a must.

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3 hours ago, SidonisAntares said:

We're both Medivh originals aren't we?

Nop, I was on, errr, Burning Legion then Magtheridon as I recall. And Tarren Mill later, but that was after Vanilla.

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