Inflation has been a big problem in Diablo 3, even from the start. In the first few weeks top items could be found for 20 million. Within a few months that had gone up to 200 million. I just checked today, and it has gone up to 2 billion. Now, I don’t have time to play games all day. It would probably take me a year to collect that much gold. By then the gold prices will probably double again. It is impossible to keep up.
Instead I’ve decided to do what a lot of players have done and treat Diablo 3 as a single player game. This is how I play Torchlight 2, and that’s how I will play Diablo 3 now. If Diablo 3 were single player, you would not have an Auction House or other players to trade with. You just have whatever drops for you in the game as well as the vendors in town and the artisan crafting. There are three main benefits to playing the game this way.
The first is that you don’t have to worry about inflation or fluctuating gold prices. The costs that the artisans charge in town are always the same. The vendors charge different prices depending on which items they have to sell, but those items are never useful anyways. Your gold always has the same value that you can count on and plan around.
The second benefit is that you get more regular item upgrades. Using the auction house, upgrades feel rare because it takes so long to collect the gold to buy anything. Those upgrades are big jumps in character power, but so rare you forget about them quickly. Playing self-found though, you get regular upgrades for quite a while.
Lastly, you get to actually use the artisans. Yes, compared to just picking out the best items from the Auction House, the artisans really suck. However, they are very nice when playing self-found. You can actually work your way up through the gems instead of just buying the best ones and selling your lower ones straight for gold. You can also craft weapons and armor. The major downside is that most of the recipes for items only go up to item level 62, so they can’t get you much further than Act 2 Inferno.
I admit that my monk is tainted. I have bought quite a few middle tier items for him to the point that he can farm Act 2 Inferno with ease. Act 3 & 4 are also fairly easy except for a few champion affix combinations. I’m going to forget the past here. My monk will initially be used to farm gold and items for other characters. Once the quality of their items nears his, I will jump around the characters to keep things interesting.
Also, I bought all the crafting recipes for rare (yellow) items last year, which some might consider tainting. I think this is okay just because crafting recipes aren’t guaranteed items. They are just giving you the option to roll certain items. If you don’t use the Auction House, you eventually get a lot of gold without much to spend it on. Artisan crafting is a good place to use that gold. Some people might say this breaks the spirit of self-found, but it’s all about fun to me. I don’t want my gold numbers to start going in the millions, and I have no use for it.
I can’t say that I will always play self-found. To start with I am going to level up all my characters that are below level 60 this way. Then, I think I can make it through Act 1 Inferno self-found. I think Act 2 Inferno is as far as I will be able to go comfortably. Further than that simply requires items with the right affixes, which are too rare if you only have yourself for drops.
This could change though if Blizzard changes item drops. I don’t see how they could do this without messing up Auction House pricing. Perhaps the best case scenario would be improving drops while at the same time removing the Auction House. I don’t know if Blizzard will ever do that though. The Real Money Auction House is what offsets the cost of the game servers and keeps the game free to play.