In World of Warcraft players would repeat content countless times in the hopes that they would earn a particular piece of gear. We ran and reran raids for tokens, reputation and the chance an epic upgrade would drop. Since we knew what the drop rates were there was a pretty predictable progression curve, if your guild ran a certain raid every week for a few months, there would be a very good chance you saw most of the pieces drop and would have geared up most of your guild. Otherwise, you would at least be gaining reputation and tokens you could use towards other upgrades.
The big difference in Diablo 3 is that gear is not bound to you, so the amount of gear in the system is limited more so than in WoW. Drop rates of legendary gear are so insanely low that many players play to 60 and then through Inferno without seeing a single legendary drop. Some players report that after leveling to 60 5 times and spending 300+ hours playing they have not found a single valuable legendary. Of course, a level 60 legendary is worth 150-200k just for the Fiery Brimstone, but who wants to play for 50-100 hours to find a legendary for that?
Rares and set items are also extremely rare. Even though you will find dozens of rares and even be able to sell some on the auction house for gold, the chances of you finding a set item you will use is extremely rare.
Due to the fact that there are no predictable ways to get upgrades from farming Inferno, players have the incentive to collect gold so that they can buy upgrades. Let me know if I’m wrong, but I don’t know a single player who geared up their character without the auction house but was still able to clear Inferno or beat the first and second act in a reasonable amount of time.
The process of farming gold sucks, yet it’s the only practical way to gear up your character and this is why farming in Diablo 3 sucks. Farm X amount of gold to buy an upgrade is not nearly as fun or rewarding as beating a boss in hopes that he drops a specific upgrade; even if both activities take the same amount of time.
Why is it this way?
Why did Blizzard design the game this way? The answer is obvious, they wanted everyone using the auction house; especially the real money auction house. Bringing in $1 for every transaction and 15% of future commodities auctions, that’s a lot of revenue. Instead of creating avenues for players to gear their own characters up without trading with large fees, they made drop rates extremely low and made sure that gold was scarce enough to act as the exchange currency.
Unfortunately the only way to fix this is to create gear that binds to your character and is earned by beating a certain milestone in the game. Crafted gear would then gain value as it would be the only currency based way to gear your character. Just like in World of Warcraft some Best in Slot crafted pieces could exist, but you would still likely need a combination of manual progression vs. purchased upgrades. Until then, farming in Diablo 3 will continue to suck.
Important: Many of the strategies and tips I share here were originally inspired by the people at the Diablo 3 Gold Secrets Forum. If you're serious about making the big bucks in Diablo 3, or just being the best players, you need to signup ASAP.