Travis Day on Diablo 3 Economy Issues

One interesting aspect of the new crafting recipes added in DiabloWikiPatch 1.0.7 is the way they’ve changed the Diablo 3 Economy and impacted the prices of various materials. We’ve seen big fluctuations in the value of Iridescent Tears, (on SC Americas they used to be under 400g, but have been up over 1200 for the past few weeks), and even more in the price of Tomes of Secret. Those remain very cheap in the softcore economy (around 420g), but they cost a fortune in Hardcore, where they have been selling for over 12,000 gold of late.

Note that nothing has changed in the game; these items are dropping just as often as ever, and the game didn’t get harder to keep players from harvesting them; there’s just much more demand to use ToS in the new crafting recipes, which makes their price increase dramatically. (In Hardcore, at least, where optimizing gear is essential, and farming for profit with undergeared chars is not an option.)

This sort of price fluctuation is interesting in of itself, but it also shows how things are interconnected. For instance, thanks to the huge increase in the Hardcore prices of Tomes of Secret, all the higher level gems have gone up hugely in price, and the most desirable Radiant Star gems in HC (Amethysts and Rubies) are now selling for over 72m (they’re around 20m in Softcore, while the *most* expensive Emeralds are still only 25m, less than half the price of the *least* expensive Radiant Stars (Topaz) in Hardcore.

Hardcore AH is thriving at the low end.
The hardcore AH is thriving at the low end.
And yes, I’ve been playing HC lately and spending more time studying the economy, since it’s so much more interesting and vibrant than the largely stagnant and end game-focused softcore economy. You can see a screenshot of my recent hardcore AH activity to the right, with numerous 5-10k sales of items in the level 20-35 range; a space that simply doesn’t exist in softcore at this point, since freespecs means no one ever needs to reroll in Diablo 3. (My new Monk is level 34 now and just into Nightmare.)

This post might seem off topic thus far (probably because it is) but the point is that small changes to the drop rate, or new crafting recipes requiring high amounts of previously worthless materials can change the supply or demand for various materials, which can create waves that spread across all the entire economy. So, when the D3 devs speak of changing the drop rates of anything, even junk Rares, fans have to wonder how that will impact the overall economic ecosystem.

Happily, according to Travis Day, the devs are giving thought to that as well.

With the reduced drop rate for rates planned for rares, considering vendoring is a source of income for some, is there any plan to increase the price in which they are vendored for to compensate?
Travis Day: As designers part of our job is to understand and be aware of the ripples caused by changes we make. Reducing the drop rate of items in the future will certainly impact the rate at which players acquire gold and crafting materials and we will adjust values where necessary to compensate for this.

It’s hard to speculate how such a change would work since we don’t know the details yet, but imagine that Rares become 75% less common, but have a 75% better chance to roll with useful mods. I don’t think that would make a real big difference in Softcore, at least. From what I’ve seen in game and heard from other players, most people pick up (at most) about half of the Rares that drop in Inferno, and of those, 95-99% are vendored or salvaged for personal use in crafting, with the remaining 1-5% put into the Auction House. If some future patch cut the drop rate of Rares to half or a quarter their current rate, it seems like players would adapt by picking up a higher percentage of the Rares they do see, thus keeping the supply of Iridescent Tears at roughly the same level as now.

It’s harder to predict what would happen to actual item sales if many more of the Rares we found were useful. It’s tempting to imagine finding better gear and using or selling it for a profit, but of course the Rare improvement isn’t just for you… everyone would be finding better quality Rares. Perhaps you’d be able to upgrade some of your gear with self finding, but so would everyone else, and as tons of better quality Rares flood the Auction House that just means an item will need 99.9% quality stats to sell, rather than 99.0% quality stats today. Thus in a month everyone’s got slightly better gear, but the only thing that sells in the AH is gear with almost-perfect rolls, and the situation is basically the same as now; the Rares you find have better stats, but 99% of it still isn’t good enough to AH for a profit.

Sounds like a vicious and unbreakable cycle, doesn’t it?

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27 thoughts on “Travis Day on Diablo 3 Economy Issues

  1. Been playing Hardcore for about 2 weeks now, no deaths so far, beat Inferno Diablo on my Monk yesterday and I gotta say the economy is great, stuff sells fast and I can actually make some cash ( expecialy on mats, you can get 1mil worth of tomes+salvages in 2x20minute runs ), playing MP0 is also quite easy with 800allres|71klife|41k dps, thought it’ll be much harder ^^

  2. This was your argument on the podcast as well, and I think it’s flawed. There’s a certain baseline of gear necessary for farming Inferno MP0/MP1. At the moment, the vast majority of rares are far too crap even for that, and gearing up a new level 60 will cost you at least 50-100k per slot.

    If this first tier of usable gear becomes roughly the new minimum standard for drops, that changes things significantly. It means that people will be able to start moving up the MP tiers more quickly, whether through self-finds or cheaper AH items. Sorting through crap rares is a labor-intensive task, and reducing the amount of abject crap cuts the necessary time investment.

    • I think this is pretty silly.

      I have a character of each class, self-found. WD cleared Inferno in 1.0.4 with minimal farming and re-clears of content to get items. DH and Barb were in A2 Inferno in 1.0.4 and were able to easily clear MP1, with no re-clears of content. Monk and Wizard were able to easily clear all of Inferno on MP1, single-pass, with self-found gear.

      Picking up gear and creating a decent tradeoff between damage, health, resistances and sustain makes MP1 a cakewalk, even playing single-pass self-found.

      In short: gearing up to do MP0/MP1 is really easy, and shouldn’t even require blowing your load on the GAH unless you really don’t want to actually play the game to find gear.

      • this may be a silly question but did you clear inferno with self-found hardcore? it could be that i’m just really bad at this game or stop paying enough attention but when i’ve got a hardcore character up to 60 i wouldn’t wanna run around inferno with self-found gear.

        • Nope, I can’t play HC because my internet connection causes one lag-related death a week, at least.

          However, I did enforce a system for my first Inferno clear where dying made me exit the game and resume from the last quest.

          So, I did actually clear each “checkpoint” without dying at some point during that first clear in 1.0.4, but obviously I did die along the way. Still, with my self-found single-pass 1.0.4 gear, I died once in all of A3 and then probably 6ish times in A4.

      • Ivan E- I think your memory might be slightly off. Not to nitpick, but there was no monster power system in 1.0.4 (that came about in 1.0.5). Inferno was also considerably harder in 1.0.4… although not nearly as punishing as it was just after release.

        Still, clearing inferno with self-found gear in 1.0.4 would have been a respectable accomplishment. Doing it in a single pass, completely self-found, would have been damn near heroic. Most of the Act 3 bosses were an infuriating gear check back then. Ghom, especially, was an absolute nightmare for most self-found players. But with 1.0.5 (and the introduction of MP) the difficulty in Inferno took a massive nosedive and did indeed become a cakewalk for even fairly casual self-found players. IIRC, Inferno in 1.0.4 was roughly equivalent to MP3/MP4 in 1.0.5 and beyond.

  3. There is no doubt the crafting recipes have changed the economy. I used to be able to sell decent bracers, shoulders and amulets all the time ranging from a couple hundred thousand to a few mil, but not now. Forget about gloves unless they are trifecta with all resist and big main stat with vitality. I found a bracer with 125 dex, 45 vitality, 45 poison resist, 50 AR, and 5% CC and it didn’t sell at 100k. I know that would have been a few mil a couple months ago. I think it also has alot to do with less people playing, less new players, and botters driving the price of gold into the ground. It wouldn’t bother me if better rares dropped, as the economy Is only going to stay strong on the near perfect rolls anyway.

  4. Lol lets not forget that now the best items available for 4 slots are now the cheapest to acquire in the game with the absurdly cheap crafting recipes the new boa items have.

    Shoulders are now unsellable on the ah, as are bracers, gloves and chests, with the exception being some set pieces.

    It also cracks me up how they will be changing the rare drop rate, considering how important the whole 5 nv = 1 guaranteed rare item bullcrap.

    Diablo 3 retail beta for the win.

    • In response to Flux’s argument about the unbreakable cycle of loot, I think the answer is in variability. There need to be more desirable affixes, along with more *conditionally* desirable affixes that go along with runes and passives that support them.

      When two completely different items can be best in slot depending on what runes/passives you pick, and this case holds for all item slots for many builds for all classes, then you’ve solved the problem.

      Its painful to see how well Blizzard set themselves up for this solution with the rune system and then completely fail to implement it when they designed the item system and balanced the runes. Based on recent posts they’ve now fully recognized the shortcoming (or at least reported they’ve recognized it) and are taking long-term steps to fix it.

      The long and short of it is that the cycle of spiring upward loot quality is fixable but requires such a signficant update of items and skills, we won’t see it fully solved until the second or third patch of the first expansion (since they’ll still need to iterate on their initial fixes)

      • Well said. Variability will help, but it won’t solve the problem on an on-going basis. As time goes by in an economy that never dissolves good items and never has an out-flux of items, there will come a time where even the build-specific gear will be saturated for every combination.

        • Therein lies another secret of D2’s success, the need to reroll to try out the various builds meant there was a constant demand for items for gearing up new characters. Unless stripped a character to make a straight replacement the new one would act as another item sink that would want to collect great gear from the economy. When everyone only ever needs 5 characters there isn’t a lot of places for the items to go.

          • Except D2 had to flush the entire economy down the toilet every ladder reset, which isn’t a good solution, either. Character/account binding isn’t all that interesting, but it works. It forces items out of the trading economy. It keeps very good but not great gear valuable, it keeps the lower level economy more stable, and provides a more stable price index (the commodity market). Too many terrible decisions, decisions they had right earlier in development and earlier in their own games (Warcraft). They really wanted to make Diablo 2.5, huh?

  5. From an economy-impact standpoint, I’m curious to see how the 1.08 patch Auction House hover comparisons with currently equipped items will impact sales of certain items. It’s often hard to tell the difference between two equally priced items – with slightly different stats – like gloves with +150 Dex and +2 Crit, or +90-100 Dex and +2.5/3 crit? It will make ID’ing “valuable” (to the player) items easier, and possibly give sellers a better idea of how to price an items.

    • No it really isnt. You CAN compare items on the ah, its just currently a bit of a pain in the behind. Link any item from the ah into any chat window and then join a game and click the link… like I said bit of a pain but it is fully effective.

  6. D3 is an mmo with no mechanism to remove items. The items people use now represent the best finds from thousands of hours of farming by multiple players. Unless they keep improving the likelihood of good items being found, there is no way for average joe to feel rewarded playing.

    The ah and shared stash make trading so easy that good items simply do not leave the economy nearly as often as they did in d2.

    I wish there was a mode of play in d3 where you could die without losing huge amounts of time, and there was a good item sink that removed great items from the economy. I ended up playing hc in d2 because the economy got so bad. Looks like d3 is headed the same way.

    • Don’t click the AH tab = Average Joe instantly feels rewarded by playing, because he’s going to fine at least one upgrade per play session for as long as he remains an Average Joe

  7. Flux, you used to be such a strong advocate for playing self found, but after you started playing auction house, it’s like there is no other way of playing.
    Well, I am still playing self found, and still enjoying the game.
    I do not play this game for efficiency, but I play the game for fun and relaxation, which I do not find doing endless Alkaizer runs and then spending hours going through the auction house to be very fun or relaxing.
    In the same non-efficency completionist playstyle, I pick up EVERY SINGLE magic and above item, just as I open every chest and break every breakable I come across. Not because it’s efficient, because it’s not, but because I find it fun, and isn’t that what the game is about? 🙂

    • Praise the heavens people like you still exist. I am baffled that anyone finds playing an AH simulator fun.

    • Gamers naturally lean towards “beating the game” and being successful at it. The blame shouldn’t be put on people who use the Auction house because it is 100x more efficient than self-found. They should blame Blizzard, for creating an economy that has diminished the excitement of the item-hunt, which was the best and most important aspect in Diablo 2.

    • It’s healthy that the game can be enjoyed in different ways. How tedious if the choice was self-found or not at all. I believe, like you, Flux plays for “fun and relaxation” and you shouldn’t be surprised if that’s achieved in different ways. Doesn’t make your means of fun any less valid.

      Vive la difference!

      • I do not doubt that Flux (or anybody else who play in that matter) do not enjoy playing the game in the way that they do.
        What I complained about was that the way Flux wrote the article. He made it sound like that was the only way to play the game. Whether he intended it that way or not, I don’t know, but that’s the way I read the article.

  8. You dont have to eliminate freespecs to encourage rerolling. D2 offered hellforge quests to obtain runes, which can only be obtained once per char on hell diff. Blizz could offer a similar one-time prize per toon to encourage rerolls.

  9. Basically flux proves my argument in my comment post on the most recent podcast with azzure and simcity. That is, to make the AH work with no soulbound items, you need an item sink. Hardcore provides that. Dying removes items from the game (along with your character and possibly a few items on your table that you throw against the wall)

  10. I haven’t listened to past few podcasts so maybe this has already been answered, but didn’t Blizz say years ago that they hired a guy with a PhD in economics to design and oversee the economy ?

    has he ever been mentioned again ?

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