Completely different idea - how about a "finder bonus." Every item that drops has its affixes boosted (edit for this thread: or some other bonus, eg. additional affix) until you sell it. Once sold/traded to another account, the finder bonus permanently vanishes.
I don't know how much the finder bonus is - maybe each affix roll is boosted 10% (edit for this thread: or maybe an additional affix)? The idea would be to make it pretty possible to find upgrades over AH gear, since a less-than-perfect roll WITH finder bonus would often-enough be better than a perfect roll WITHOUT finder bonus. Can probably do some math to pick a good bonus amount.
The most godly players would have finder-bonus gear; you couldn't reach the very top just by buying on AH, because for any AH item, a self-found equivalent would be better due to the bonus.
(Note: I'm in favour of this idea in principle, but I think a random extra finder's affix on a certain percentage of found items would make things more interesting. A flat 10% bonus as originally suggested is pretty bland in comparison.)
I think this idea addresses a number of currently perceived problems:
- The idea that you are "forced" to go to the AH to get upgrades.
- People wanting a "self found" mode with better drops.
- People being able to real-money buy the best gear in the game without any effort (or buy gold for same).
Imagine, for example, that every rare and legendary/set spawned with an additional random affix, that disappeared as soon as it was traded / vendored / dropped / AHed. (The "finder" affix would have its own colour, so you'd know which one it was). This would have the following benefits:
- Better drops, without shifting the economy to match.
- More likely to find your own upgrades competitive to what is available on the AH.
- "Self found" advocates are happy, because their gear will be more competitive with that of AH users.
- AH users are happy, as due to the capriciousness of the RNG, the optimal gearing path will still be to use the AH most of the time. This will not make self found "better", it will just narrow the gap. Good items will still be sellable (if the "finder affix" is trash, you won't be losing anything by selling).
- The absolute best gear in the game _must_ be self found. Items in the AH cannot be the best possible. RMAH tycoons are not happy, as they can not just buy their way to the best items in the game (does anyone want to make this group happy?).
(Possible modification: allow the finder's affix to be preserved when items are traded unidentified.
Benefit: revitalised interest in the "unid-ed item" market (particularly legendaries), and face-to-face trading.)
I humbly forward this suggestion as worthy of the consideration of devs/designers.