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It's not just a goldsink. It's an intentional bot farming/(RM)AH flipping deterrent. It prevents people from making a true profit by buying all the mats from the AH, then going into craft-mode to get better gems to resell for a slightly higher value.
If they didn't have such steep time requirements, then the best D3 strategy would be:
1) Buy the best gem mats you can afford to craft
2) Craft next tier gem and sell.
Then you just have all this gold sitting around to buy the best gear, without even playing the game. That would be a terrible design strategy.
To get the crafting delays shortened/removed, they'd have to get rid of the (RM)AHs first, which is a whole discussion unto itself.
I'm still grateful for it. I make a few million an hour while taking care of other stuff or using the internet, then I can still come back and play anytime I want. Seems like a good deal to me.
Also I think the price of gems would plummet to non-profitability if they were made that fast, since part of the mark up people are paying for is the convenience of not having to craft themselves.
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