The Imperfect Circle: Gold in Diablo 3


Gold in a game like Reaper of Souls should form a perfect circle; you find as much as you need; not too much, not too little. Few fans feel the game is balanced to that level at present. What’s the problem? How can it be fixed?

The screen is legit. I got a gold fountain from one of those little breakable nodes.

The screen is legit. I got a gold fountain from one of those little breakable nodes.

Gold is an essential material (it’s not really a currency) in Reaper of Souls, required in large quantities for gem upgrades and item DiabloWikienchants, as well as repairs, crafting costs, DiabloWikitransmog, and other walking around expenses. Gold does not, however, drop in anything approaching the amounts that players can spend. Most people who entered Reaper of Souls with a small amount of gold (under 25 million) are now broke, and players who brought in more substantial fortunes and have been profligate with their gem upgrades and enchanting are down 50 million, 100 million, 200 million, or more, in just a month of playing time.

Does this mean that DiabloWikiGold is too scarce in the game, or are players 1) living beyond their means, and 2) mistaking the early gearing up phase for the long term gold-building farming stage? I’ve been talking to players in the clan chat and out of game, and there’s a good forum thread about gold farming and expenses in our Diablo 3 community forum that I found interesting reading in prep for this article.

Questions for debate: Should gold be much more common, or is balancing your gold costs with your income an essential aspect of the game’s strategy? Should there be more gold earning options, such as selling materials or legendaries, ala Diablo 2’s Auction House? Should the game balance the gold circle for right now, or include some epicycles to give players who brought in gold from D3 something extra to spend it on?

There are a lot of opinion on this issue, and what a player feels corresponds directly to their play time, depends on how many characters they’re gearing up, if they have geared up well enough to tackle higher Torment levels where gold drops are scaled up 1000% or more, etc. So everyone’s opinion will differ a bit by their location and the state of their gear battle, but we can get some basic terms for the debate.


Economic Experiences Differ

Remember when big gold stacks looked like bars on the ground? I miss those.

Remember when big gold stacks looked like bars on the ground? I miss those.

I’m yet not sure what my overall positions is, so this article is geared towards conversation and explanation than meant as an opinion piece. Personally, I’m rich and I’m broke.

On the Americas Realm, I’m rich.
I started off with around one billion gold in Hardcore, most of it accumulated during the month after the RoS beta ended and before the Auction House shut down. I still have no idea why people were paying top gold prices for lvl 60 uniques and materials/gems that were going to be obsolete the moment Reaper of Souls launched, but I’m glad they were, because RICHES. I feel zero guilt about taking profits either, because regret is for the weak I said on the podcast and multiple times in articles that people should liquidate while they still could since only gold and exp were useful to take over to RoS.

I’m down over 100m since the game launched, and I’d be down 150-200m (as many other players are) if I’d played full time on that realm, had geared up more than two classes, had upgraded all my gems, etc.

On the European realm, I’m poor.
I know the pain of poverty also, since I’ve been playing Hardcore on Europe, and I’m broke there. (Insert tourist / undocumented worker / exchange rate joke here.) I created my first HC char on Europe a couple of months ago when clans went live in the DiabloWikiD3v2 patch, and we needed someone to admin our IncGamers Hardcore European clan. I played a bit on EU before RoS went live, and I’ve got an almost-Torment ready lvl 70 Demon Hunter there now, but I had only a few million gold going into RoS, which has had me living hand-to-mouth ever since. (For example, on EU I’m using a sub-optimal Puzzle Ring since 1) it’s the best ring I’ve found and 2) I can’t afford the gem upgrades to enchant it.)


Gear Thresholds

Aside from your initial state of gear and gold, the most obvious difference in gold earning and outlay comes from the quality of your gear. Going from 0-60 is fairly cheap since in DiabloWikiLoot 2.0 you can mostly find what you need as you progress. Especially if you’ve got some other characters to twink down gems and gear.

Most of us were not starting from scratch in RoS, but were taking characters from 60 up to 70. That’s not too gold-expensive either, since 1) there’s no point in spending much on enchants with sub level 70 gear, and 2) enchants are very cheap below level 70 anyway. The main expense in those days, and for players newly-arrived at level 70, comes not from gold but from materials. Remember the great Death’s Breath famine of March 2014?

Deaths Breaths!

Please for the love of god increase the drop rate on these by 10. We need them in EVERYTHING and getting 1 every 2 full clears in adventure mode is horrible.

That’s a B.net forum post that got a Blue reply on the second day of Reaper of Souls, and it expressed an opinion most of us shared. Early DB costs were insane thanks to enchanting fees and Artisan training costs. Now? Most players have dozens or hundreds of DBs and can’t hardly remember when they were scarce. The same thing happens with gold… sort of.


Upgrades are Expensive

This will just take a minute...

This will just take a minute…

The gold costs are crushing when a character first hits 70 since you’re finding constant upgrades. “Upgrades are fun! Enchanting is awesome! In fact, I’ll get right back to you, just as soon as I turn this Life Per Hit into a socket no this new sword. Just a minute. Just one more roll. Okay, this time for sure…”

And then you’re looking at 453,782 for the next upgrade and you’ve spent 5m and all your Souls trying to change one affix on one single item, and you just got “+613 Vitality” or “+624 Vitality” as your enchant options for the 3rd straight time. BECAUSE JOSH HATES YOU.

Eventually though, most characters stabilize their gear at a sub-Torment quality (especially Hardcore, who have to advance a bit more cautiously), with mostly Rares that can’t be upgraded, and a scattering of legendaries. At this point you can actually earn gold, unless you spend it all on gem upgrades. Which you probably will since you’re still new to Reaper of Souls at that level of gear.

Things get expensive again when you move up into Torment full time, and start finding more common upgrades. The DiabloWikiTorment-only legendaries can be much better, but it’s all about potential, and the enchanting costs can be crazy at that point, where it takes a perfect 4th primary affix to upgrade a Torment item over your very good pre-Torment gear.

Eventually players who put in a LOT of hours can pass that stage, and enter the true end game, where gold inflow can exceed gold spend. All of your gems are upgraded so you don’t need to keep doing those, you very seldom find an item upgrade you need to spend enchants on, and if you’ve gone up into the higher levels of DiabloWikiTorment, your gold drops are hugely boosted.

  • Normal: Monsters: 100% Health, 100% Damage. Drops: 0% extra gold bonus, 0% extra XP bonus
  • Hard: Monsters: 200% Health, 130% Damage. Drops: 75% extra gold bonus, 75% extra XP bonus
  • Expert: Monsters: 320% Health, 189% Damage. Drops: 100% extra gold bonus, 100% extra XP bonus
  • Master: Monsters: 512% Health, 273% Damage. Drops: 200% extra gold bonus, 200% extra XP bonus
  • Torment I: Monsters: 819% Health, 396% Damage. Drops: 300% extra gold bonus, 300% extra XP bonus
  • Torment II: Monsters: 1311% Health, 575% Damage. Drops: 400% extra gold bonus, 400% extra XP bonus
  • Torment III: Monsters: 2097% Health, 833% Damage. Drops: 550% extra gold bonus, 550% extra XP bonus
  • Torment IV: Monsters: 3355% Health, 1208% Damage. Drops: 800% extra gold bonus, 800% extra XP bonus
  • Torment V: Monsters: 5369% Health, 1752% Damage. Drops: 1150% extra gold bonus, 1150% extra XP bonus
  • Torment VI: Monsters: 8590% Health, 2540% Damage. Drops: 1600% extra gold bonus, 1600% extra XP bonus
  • Obviously it takes longer to kill stuff on T4 than T1, but characters who are geared enough to do it quickly, especially in a party, can rack up massive gold from pickups and bounty/event/rift rewards.


    How Rare *Should* Gold Be?

    This is the real question, since it’s all opinion. Everyone experiences roughly the same gold expenses and incomes, when their characters are equivalent. Some people brought a lot of gold into RoS and others have geared up further already. There’s a lot of difference of opinion on how gold *should* be, though. Some players think so much gold should drop that you can upgrade all your gems, enchant every item half a dozen times, and still have enough to bail out Lyndon’s brother, fix Eirena up with a new sparkle bikini top, and buy Kormac a tall mug of frosty cold milk.

    Other players think gold should be a resource as scarce as DiabloWikiForgotten Souls or other legendary materials, where if you want to build up a surplus of it, you have to 1) farm specifically for it, and 2) refrain from spending it casually. And the other side of the coin is gold expenses. Perhaps you feel that gold find amount are great in regards to enchanting costs, but think that gems cost way too much to upgrade? (Or to unsocket, and on that Blizzard agrees.)

    So, gold enough or too little? Prices too high or just right? And where are you on the economic sliding scale, have you changed your view over the past week(s), and do you think you’ll change it again in a month, when you’re geared well enough to start racking up gold in T4?


    Gold in Reaper of Souls?

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    1. Rich get richer and poor get poorer applies double in this instance. At launch of ROS I had 150M, since I did not do enough AH flipping, and now I am down to 95m gold, while steadily playing about 5 hours per day, generally on T1 or T2.

    2. When I stopped spending gold and started to sell items, rather then salvage them, I started to generate lots of gold, but as soon as I start to spend it will go away in no minute.

      • This has been my experience and for some reason it didn’t dawn on me until I had my first 500 shard gamble session. With everything being rubbish I just sold it all then realised how much money I had and the penny dropped. So now I don’t automatically salvage all my yellows.

        I’m still not rolling in cash but it’s less of a strain now.

        • I had a poor and a not-so-poor account.
          My poor account I entered ROS with around 20m. Now it is at 70m and did plenty of enchanting and fully upgraded about 5 gems.

          My not-so-poor account I started with 100m, and now it is around 90m.. (But mainly because I haven’t played it as much)

          What I do is I make sure I have 2000 veiled crystal in inventory and then I started selling all rares.. and when I’m down to almost 1000 I’ll top up with salvaging. I don’t fully upgrade gem unless I know I’ll be using that equipment to make more gold back..

          So all in all, don’t spend more than you make and you’ll be okay. Maybe that 1% more crit on the helm will make my character stronger.. but unless I’m sure I won’t be switching to another helm in a couple of days I’d be content with what I have.

    3. As a totally poor HC character (i’I’ve never had more than 10M in HC even pre ROS, and usually hover around 500k-1M because: enchant) – mostly because I don’t play that much, and didn’t really milk the AH when It was around – I like gold drops they way they are right now. For the most part. The progression of item upgrades should be grindy, but not so much that it’s not fun. I have to work a metric crapton to get that next gem upgrade – but… man, it would be nice if there was something I could do to specifically get gold better, at lower levels.

      1) I think rifts should all have a massive bonus go gold drops… like +800%. If they’re supposed to be loot-runs… make them shiny with gold too.

      2) OR Bounties should pay better gold… it’s a “bounty” – not a 10 year-old’s allowance. A 30k bounty matched with 18M exp seems imbalanced. Gold should be 1/10th of experience.

      3) Gems cost a pant load to upgrade, and sell for pennies in comparison. Reduce gem drops by like 50%, but allow for ALL gem qualities to drop (torment and above), and make the re-sell value of gems 20x 30x higher. Marquis should sell for $40k each, and up from there.

      4) Campaign mode! What’s that, you say? Give some incentive to playing campaign mode again. Give progressively greater GOLD rewards for quest completion. A1 Q1, 100 gold, A1 Q2, 200 gold (if you complete both), A1 Q3, 400 gold, and so on… maybe not that aggressive, but by the time you’re in A5, your getting 500,000+ per quest. A full clear of all the acts from A1 to Malthy should be worth like $15M-$20M, progressively. If you skip around, or miss a quest, it resets. And, there’s a lovely Guaranteed leg. at the end from Malthy, icing on the cake.

      • Boosting golddrops in campaign mode up to a degree making this mode the best for hauling in gold is a splendid idea. It could also allow people completely new to the game to build up enough that they’ll only have to worry about the initial DB-drought at first. Like it. 🙂

        • That’s a useful idea, though I dread a recurrence of all those “how do I reset quests for leg drop?” questions we saw every day pre-RoS.

          I think Gold Find should do more. Maybe double all the GF values on gear? Triple or quadruple it from Emerald in helm, to make that a viable gem choice? Put GF% on some skills? The DH’s Ferret Familiar has always been laughably crappy, with just 10% GF and some slight pickup assistance from the weasels. How about making that one 50% GF multiplicative (so if you had 400% GF from other, you’d have 600% with that skill active)? A DH is giving up huge bonuses from boar, bat, or wolf to use ferrets; the gold should be commensurate.

          Generally speaking, I’d like it if the game provided options to boost your gold find, so players could choose to pursue if it they wished. That’s why I liked MF as an item stat, since it was about choice and design, rather than just some across the board change that affects everyone equally.

          • I concur on mf. Am doing bounties on act 1 exclusively at the moment, as I haven’t had luck on even a single Ring of Royal Grandeur yet. And neither of my characters has a third slot free to wear three pieces at once of caines set. (And just the few old lvl 60 mf thingies on followers don’t accumulate to much on their own…)

    4. I started RoS with 125 mil gold, now I have 300 mil. Why? Because I don’t upgrade every single new item I Find, I just want at least semi-perfect rolls, otherwise I can live with my current “good” gear with which I can do T3/T4 with my wizard. I had to use the mystic 30 times before I got 95crit damage on my amulet, but I never crafted the lower tier gems to be able to do an enchant, I only did craft the imperials, so my cost with every enchant was only 300k, not 900k (if i would have done with marquise only). So use your head and patience and you will never go down with your gold.

    5. Gold drops feel all right IMO. I started out with about 30M gold (self-found) and now I’m up to 87M. Granted, I haven’t bothered crafting the two highest gem tiers, but that’s pretty much the only meaningful gold sink right now anyway.

    6. I guess I will say the same thing that I have said before, people will find any excuse they can to complain about this game (and everything in general). Either they don’t accumulate gold fast enough and so can’t upgrade their gems/equipment, or they have a ton of gold and not enough to spend it on.

      If you think that you are not earning gold fast enough, then congrats, Blizzard’s plan is working on you. They want you to play the game longer, which you are doing in order to rack up more gold. Being short on gold is no different than being short on any other crafting material or experience, it is a method to make you play the game longer in order to “advance”.

      It seems that so many people just want everything in the game handed to them on a silver platter. They want millions of gold with every kill, a Death’s Breath every 30 seconds and a Legendary item with every drop. Kind of ruins the game if you ask me. These must be the same people that used to do runs with God mode on old games or constantly spamming the Gold codes in order to have an easier time and be able to breeze through games.

      Perhaps their should be some kind of alternate server realm that Bliz could open up where cheat codes would allow them to spam gold or get legendary drops on demand just to stop them complaining.

      In my experience, I have always been more on the “broke” end of the spectrum. Never had more than about 5 mil in the bank and constantly spending it down to a few hundred thousand in order to upgrade gems. I don’t really tend to worry about it because I seem to be earning enough on normal play that I can keep upgrading almost every time I return to town and it doesn’t slow me down much.

      • “Perhaps their should be some kind of alternate server realm that Bliz could open up where cheat codes would allow them to spam gold or get legendary drops on demand just to stop them complaining.”

        Kinda like a offline single player mode that allows modding, or an open battle.net which allows modding and allows use of 3rd parties programs, right? I think a lot of people did ask for that.

    7. I like that you have to pick and choose where to try to get your upgrades instead of no braining your way in to better gear.

    8. I also think that gold drop rate is accurate. I’ve started with 500 mln and dropped to 450 but now I’m at 460 and growing. So from my pov starting ROS with 50mln would let you for everything since the lunch. I assume my gold would accumulate further now. If somebody started from 0 then it only will take a bit more time to start earning gold.

    9. I started ROS with 308M, been as low as 298M and as high as 334M. Playing only HC, I’ve never ventured above T2. If I played in the higher torment levels I’m sure I’d be way up on gold. So I’d have to say gold drop rates are pretty accurate.

      I’m more concerned with some of the mats. I have over 1400 Death’s Breath and approaching 1000 each of the marquise gems. I’d love to see a larger sink for those that provide some new avenue for advancement.

    10. I have the same gold problems as everyone else but I’ve got 12 characters. I’m still working up to level 70 and struggling to get out of Expert difficulty. Anything higher than Imperial gems is a long way off.

      D3 plays very different when resources are spread this thin.

    11. Another thing to consider is that practically everyone plays Normal until they’re torment-ready and ignore the difficulties in between, which do increase your gold gain as well.

      • Not in HC.
        I play normal and as soon as I can advance to expert/master I farm on them simply to increase my Gold/XP/Blood shards/Imperial Gems(Master).
        Legendary drop rate on hard to master is low and having Blood shards helps with getting upgrades , Rift Guardian on Master drops about 40-50 blood shards just as much as T1 and with more imperial gems I can reroll my jewelery cheaper and upgrade my gems too.

    12. I’ve never been rich in D3 (most gold I’ve ever had was 40 million from selling a decent legendary), and I started RoS with ~5 million gold, but I think that gold generation vs. cost is in a good place right now. In general, as mentioned above, if you sell rares instead of just salvaging them, you make quite a bit more money, and over a few sessions I can save up a lot of gold (I’m around 10 million now).

      However, one thing I think would be interesting would be to increase the amount of gold legendaries/sets sell for. Right now, it’s never a choice to sell them, because the sale price is so low compared to the gains from either using them, or salvaging them into Forgotten Souls. I think that the average legendary item should sell for around 1 million gold, as then it would be a real choice. Obviously, the people who are rich would still take the soul, but for fairly poor people like me, it would be a real choice. If the item is usable, obviously there’s that, but I run out of souls fairly often, as I have multiple items that I am rerolling, either for crit chance, crit damage, or some form of elemental damage. I always need more souls, but the enchanting costs have grown quite high, and there are a lot of amulets/rings that I would like to enchant if it didn’t cost me hundreds of thousands of gold to make the gem needed, to say nothing of the actual enchant costs. If legendaries/sets sold for 1 million gold, I might not always sell them, but I would definitely have to think about it. I think that making selling vs. salvaging a real choice would definitely be a good idea.

    13. I think that the balance is about right for gold.

      I just got my barbarian to the point where I can comfortably farm T1, I can only play about 6-7 hours a week (I play solo). I brought less than a million into Reaper of Souls and have enjoyed the challenge of having to choose between spending it on gem upgrades or enchanting. I can see the point where once I have my gems mostly upgraded that that will free up more gold for enchanting. The proposed reductions in unsocketting costs will probably put the balance at just the right place.

    14. Frankly, I don’t think gold serves a purpose in the game at present, and is just a leftover from the old d2/d3v days that is now obsolete. All gold does today is serve as an additional timesink/resource cost on top of other timesink/resource costs. Other that transmogging, which really only gets expensive when you ‘mog into a legendary graphic, every single goldsink cost in the game has another material cost along with it. Gem upgrades cost gems + gold. Crafting costs mats + gold. Enchanting costs mats or gems + gold.

      Repair costs are irrelevant, at least in Hardcore. Perhaps some people buy vendor items, but I’ve never needed to in RoS, so they’re mostly irrelevant too.

      Without an AH, gold is pointless. Balance all the “gold + other resource” costs solely around the resource and I bet no one will miss gold piles.

    15. As a side note, I’m much more concerned with gems than gold. I burned over 30m in gold creating just 5 top-level topaz for my WD, but also burned over 300 marquise topaz to do so. If my WD dies, all that gold and literally weeks of marquise farming dies with her, and it will be more weeks before I could re-gem a replacement. With the current loot system massively favoring having only one main (if one cares about end-game gearing anyway), I find myself overflowing with non-topaz gems now, and starving for topaz.

    16. Eh, I started RoS with 50M gold, and now I have… 50M gold. I don’t feel the need to totally max out every roll on every item. More than half my gems are flawless royal, but only on the character I play the most.

      I don’t feel starved for cash; whenever I have a few million spare, I upgrade some gems. I will splurge down to 40M, but no less.

      Related, that’s exactly right about death’s breaths. I’m at 950+, when I hit 1000 I’m splitting the stack and selling half.

    17. You need to do a balanced amount of grinding items and selling items. You can get just as much gold for Blues in RoS as you could for rares in D3v.

      I only play HC and none of my toons are maxed out on gems, and only 1 of them has a item that i have made to look like a legendary (the Cluckeye bow is so small that you cant even see it unless you make a change).

      I must admit that i wasn’t broke in the first place when i came into RoS. But I’m on the same amount now as when i started.

      Just remember, if you pick up rares and sell them rather than just grinding or ignoring them altogether, I would say that you get on average, about 4k per rare (level 70 items). That’s 40k just from 10.

    18. Heck I started with 14 mil.

      I don’t have everything upgraded, but I’m having fun planning and upgrading.

      Why would I want everything all at once? Then what would I do?

      Its a game; relax a bit and enjoy…sheesh

    19. Here goes the unpopular opinion but, I think, the right one:

      Gold currently doesn’t drop at a high enough rate and that’s GOOD!

      Sure some people who were poor will have to penny pinch, but there are so many people with so…so…..SO much gold that there has to be a way to get rid of it.

      So they should lower the gold prices in ladders (nice incentive) but for the regular game, not until later on when much of that leftover gold has already been spent.

    20. I reckon the gold drops vs gold sink amounts are intentional and are aimed at reducing the range of gold account sizes.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if they up the gold amount dropped and/or reduce the cost of gold sinks down the track once they feel that the gold account range is much more even. It’s probably a way to erode people’s gold account.

    21. If they removed the gem from ring and neck reroll i would very happy and the gold will become stable

    22. Started RoS with 17 millions, currently I’m at 50 millions…but that’s just because I crafted no gems, enchanted few items and sold most of the rares.

    23. Once you get your gear in a good place and max out your gems and are face rolling T3, you quickly become a millionaire.

    24. started ROS at 248 mil and down to 173…. i’ve found as much gold since launch of ROS as i found in 1.5 yrs of d3vanilla tho, so thats nice? them gems is expensive!

    25. Better game experience.. Nice

    26. The gold drop rate is definitely a bit low. The issue is that when you’re blocked by gold, you’re also blocked by forgotten souls, or gems, or both. Gold is definitely the most “grindy” resource, so having it be a major gating factor isn’t cool. It would be nice if gold was just used for enchanting rares and repair bills, and if legendary enchants and crafting took no gold.

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