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Billion Gold Items: What Are People Paying For?

Posted 7 Dec 2012 by

You hear a lot of player comments and gossip about crazy Auction House prices, and I’ve heard players believably claim to have sold items for 50m, up to 100m. How about the higher prices, though? You can find items selling for 500 million and even one billion in the Gold Auction House. Are they for real? Lots of players think not, and believe those items never sell for those amounts and that their prices were set by gold farmers to try to create inflation and more demand for their gold. There’s probably some truth to that, and there’s certainly truth to inflation from gold botting, but that’s all open to debate.

Still, there are items in every slot priced at one-billion (or more) and while some of those prices are obviously fantasies, lots of them are in fact the BiS items… but only by a few percentage points. What differentiates 20m from 50m from 100m from 500m, and on up, when you’re talking about the same item? What makes an item worth 5 million vs. 50 million? There are a lot of factors, including item type, relative popularity (Barb gear currently sells for far more than Monk gear), item scarcity, and more. When you get into the really top end gear though, there’s a weird progression where the smaller additional improvements equal the largest price increases.

Before I list the specific examples, a couple of disclaimers.

  • There’s no way to know how regularly these items actually sell, and quite often items have absurdly high prices that no one is going to pay.
  • I’ve you’ve been doing high end GAH pricing for a while, you probably know all of this already. I didn’t do any AH until August and have only recently started eyeing the top end stuff, so it’s still new and interesting to me.

  • Prices Vary with Stats

    As I mentioned in the Rethink Your Build article earlier this week, top items in Diablo III are a bit like those joke charts where you can have two of the three points of the pyramid, but never all three. There are generally more than three (desirable) item mods for any item, and you *can* have them all, but the odds of rolling them on your own item find are horribly tiny, and the prices for items that did roll them are horribly large.

    Click through for specific examples, including a case study starring my new rare gloves that might be worth 2m, 20m, or 200m, depending on who you believe.

    <h3The Manticore

    One easy example is the Manticore . It’s currently the most popular Demon Hunter weapon since it rolls big damage and huge critical hit damage. Top quality Manticores sell (or are priced at) one billion gold, while a Manticore with poor seeds isn’t even worth selling at all. (Hover on the link for the item’s stats; the top DPS is about 1400 if you roll a random mod that adds to it.)

    The ideal Manticore’s triangle has four points: 1300+ DPS, 170+ Dexterity, 95%+ Critical Hit Damage, and 2 sockets. If your Manticore rolls big on all of those you’re going to be rich or have a kick ass Demon Hunter. If you get terrible rolls on more than one of those, you’ve got a Fiery Brimstone. If you get 2 or 3 of the 4 with middling seeds… you’ve got a pricing challenge and you can only compare to comparable bows and try to guess what or if someone will ever pay for yours. (I’m currently trying to get 1.5m for my Manticore: 1010 DPS, 2 socket, 75% crit, 150 Dex. Priced to sell!)

    The DiabloWikiRNG is an unforgiving and cruel mistress when it comes to once in a lifetime legendary item finds. I’ve found about a dozen of the most wanted legendary items, (and dozens more crappy legendaries that wouldn’t have been good even if they had rolled well) and thus far only one (Ice Climbers) rolled with mods that put them near the top of the potential heap. Of the other 11, 2 or 3 were good enough to use but not to sell for more maybe a million gold, and all the rest went right into the salvage heap.

    It’s an *interesting* system we see in Diablo III, where getting lucky with the proper type of item drop is only the first step in a very treacherous journey to obtaining a great item. I don’t hate it, and I like some variability, but I don’t entirely disagree with the fans who and think that the quality range on Legendaries should be a lot narrower. IMHO, super-rare legendary items should at least be as good as a 90% percentile Rare… rather than junk, as they so often are.


    Mage Gloves and Millions

    The Manticore is like most Legendaries; a pretty simple value equation given the limited variables. With so many more affixes, it’s much harder to figure value on Rares. (Well, there is one thing that we can all agree on — that everyone else prices *their* Rares much too high.)

    The specific case that spurred me to write this tutorial is a pair of gloves I found last night. They’re spectacular; far and away the best Rare I’ve ever found in Diablo 3, since they hit every point of the “great gloves” triangle. Unsurprisingly, their value is still very difficulty to determine. For now, I’m keeping them and they’re currently warming the hands of my Witch Doctor. (They took his unbuffed DPS from 85k up to 99k, and would do much more if his gear was really optimized with higher INT stuff.)

    The big four affixes for gloves are CHC, CHD, IAS, and +mainstat. The Pickup Radius is a great mod as well for a WD, since a high radius is essentially to properly use Gruesome Feast and Grave Injustice. The seeds on all of those rolls aren’t perfect, which is why this isn’t a billion gold item. It’s apparently about a 25m item, since there were two pairs of gloves with virtually identical values for the CHD,CHC, IAS, and Int (though neither had Vitality) for 20m. What’s needed to make them *worth* 100m, or 1b, though?

    Nothing, IMHO. Just because there are some mage gloves with 1b prices doesn’t mean anyone’s ever going to buy them. When I searched this morning there were only 10 pairs of gloves in the entire Americas GAH with IAS, double crit, and 150+ INT, as well as +plus pickup radius. (My gloves were clearly better than 3 or 4, and about equal to 2 or 3 with wildly-varying prices.) There were two gloves with by far the highest prices, and it’s worth taking a look at them.

    720m buyout for these.

    One billion buyout for these.

    Yes, they have almost exactly the same affixes as each other and as my gloves — the only thing that varies is the seed. Is that worth it? Would you pay 980,000,000 more gold (that’s about $350, at the current 10m/$3.60 RMAH conversion price) to gain 2% Critical Hit Damage, 3.5% Critical Hit Chance, and 1% IAS? God, I hope not. If so, I’ve got a bridge you might want to purchase.

    Seriously; if you took a Wizard or WD with uber gear, BiS candidates across the board, and put one of these three gloves on their hands, do you think the player would even notice the difference in performance? I doubt it. And that goes for almost all of the top end stuff; for most items in the GAH, the difference between 20m and 200m and 1000m is just a couple of percentage points to this or that.

    So why are top end items priced like this? When no one in their right mind would pay 10 or 100x the price for such a tiny increase in stats? Well, no one said we Diablo players were in our right minds. That aside… I don’t know. I’m not at all convinced anyone actually does pay those prices. Assuming someone does, I can think of two reasons:

    1) The Donald Trump type (except actually rich, not just an over-leveraged celebrity douche) who wants brand names and will gladly pay 1000% higher for 1% better. Near-perfect seeds are Diablo III’s Brand Names, even if the only real value he ever gets from them is looking at the tooltip and gloating.

    2) The truly uber-geared. For most characters, the difference in quality between 25m and 500m items isn’t going to really matter. It’s meaningless to put that much importance and expense on a few points more Dex from a ring, or 3% more CHD from a weapon, when all the rest of your gear could be upgraded for 10m or 20m per slot. If your character is truly mega-geared though, to the point that your only remaining challenge is trying to get another 2 or 3% CHC, then sure, it’s worth it. What else do you have to do, until the next big patch or expansion when all new tiers of items come in and everything you’re wearing is suddenly B-grade?

    Conclusion

    A related issue that I’m not going to delve into here; the fact that D3’s “simplified” item system makes the same gear useful for every class. The lack of modifiers like +spell damage, +casting speed, +elemental damage, and many others seen in Diablo II and other item-based ARPGs makes for a much more basic system in D3, where a great Barb ring is a great WD/Wiz ring is a great Monk/DH ring, with only the main stat varying. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in D3X if the developers give the item system some more depth and complexity and create real differentiation in gear choices between the character classes.

    So, where are you guys on the item gear scale? Do you obsess over tiny differences in a min/maxing frenzy? Or do you think good enough is good enough and don’t understand why anyone cares so much about negligible improvements to X and Y?