You log into Diablo 3 for the first time (not thinking about a diablo 3 gold guide). You’ve been craving this. After typing in your username and password, you arrive at the character creation screen and freeze. Demon Hunter or Monk? The bad ass ranger or the bad ass friar? Ahh, which one!? You end up on the Demon Hunter, mostly because you have the hots for the female character (secretly, of course), then you enter the world of Sanctuary.
You command your baby hunter to run and quickly encounter a zombie. The undead abomination is instantly mowed down by your homing missile… wait, it’s called Hungering Arrow. Whatever. It tracks stuff down and kills it. That’s what’s important. As the zombie crumbles, you hear a clank and see a few gilded coins spill onto the ground. A slightly transparent tool tip appears above the coins that states “2 Gold”. Gold? Why would I want that? It was practically worthless in D2. Well, my friend, I’m here to tell you.
First things first, you need to forget all you know about gold in Diablo. Gold doesn’t flow like an eternal fountain like it did in past games. Now gold matters; now you actually want gold. It’s not just a resource used for gambling, or a way to “punish” the players for dying. Gold has become the economic lifeline of Diablo. While item to item trading will also be a key element of the franchise, now you can actually trade an item for gold and not feel completely stupid for doing so. In fact, it may just be better to trade for the gold. But why? you ask. Or, at least, I’m guessing you did. But I can’t hear you. Stop talking to your computer.
There are three main reasons gold is good; the first is artisans. These crafters follow you throughout the game and make items for you as you progress. The blacksmith will smelt weapons and armor for you, the jeweler builds and removes gems from your items. Together, they can create some gear that is pretty awesome. These items don’t come cheap though, and require a combination of salvaged materials and gold to make. Also, as you level up, you’ll want your artisans to level with you in their quality of items. In order for them to do this, you must pay to increase their overall ranking. By the time you reach Inferno difficulty and your artisans are the highest ranking they can go, Exalted, you will have dropped 775,000 gold altogether on them (645,000 gold for the blacksmith, 130,000 for the jeweler). That’s A LOT of gold, and it isn’t including how much you’ll spend when buying individual items from each crafter.
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The second is the auction house. If you’ve played World of Warcraft, or have knowledge of the its economy, you understand that the auction house is pivotal to the game’s financial system. In WoW, as players find or craft items, they’re able to put whatever they want up for auction. Typically, as long as the item isn’t pure junk, it’s better to place the item on the auction house rather than sell it to a vendor (who will give you a fraction of what a player might). A similar system is being implemented in Diablo 3. You will be able to place whatever you find, and maybe craft—I haven’t been able to clarify this—up for auction to be bid on or bought by a fellow player.
While gold is obviously important because you use it to purchase auction housed items, one might argue that as the market becomes saturated, gold’s importance will diminish. Like-items will be bountiful and, as such, the prices for these items will be driven into the ground. Keep in mind, however, that while this can still happen, theoretically, the pace will be severely diminished due to players sometimes wanting “crafted items” rather than “found items”. In order to make a crafted items, players will need salvaged materials. To get these materials, players will need to break “found items” down. So as Item X becomes saturated on the market, players will realize they can’t make the money they once could off of it and, in some cases, will break Item X down into its crafting materials. This should, hypothetically, stabilize the market until an expansion is released.
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Lastly, we have the fact that gold will be harder to come by. In past games, Blizzard rewarded players by “throwing buckets of gold at them. It felt great to do but the problem was that long term it didn’t really have any meaning.” (Jay Wilson, Blizzcon, 2010) Which is true. As a long-time player of Diablo 2, I can personally attest that gold was near-worthless after the first 20 or so levels. It could be used for gambling, and occasionally for repairs, but once you had a good chunk of change, it wasn’t important. It wasn’t an economic resource.
It would be similar, for instance, to if I had three apples. I can do a couple things with these apples: eat them, trade them, throw them at the homeless, etc. The main thing is each apple has value to me. I only have three so I need to “spend” them wisely. However, if I were given 10,000 apples, suddenly each individual apple becomes significantly less valuable. The point is, each apple would lose its significance, its importance. It’s a basic rule of economics: the more you have of something, the less valuable it becomes.
By restricting your incoming gold, and by offering more options to spend this resource, Blizzard has essentially made gold THE economy. I can see item-for-item trading still happening, but I don’t think it will happen nearly as much as item-for-gold trading. And why would it? When you trade an item for another, all you’re getting is access to that one item. When you trade an item for gold, you gain access to a plethora of items, from the loot on the auction house to all your crafted gear.
And that, my friend, is why gold is more important than ever.