The Economy of DDO is getting a reboot. Astral Diamonds were introduced, to my recollection, as a way to upgrade a guild airship with an in game currency that differed from Turbine Points. They could be looted from chests but the drop rate is extremely rare. Individual players could purchase these diamonds with points then give the them to to the airship vendor. The vendor would save them and when a guild had enough diamonds an officer could purchase or upgrade an airship. This was a nice way to take Turbine Points and turn them into a type of currency.
Then they were used to make marks that could upgrade items in the Lordsmarch Plaza. Not a bad idea. If a person didn’t want to farm the marks from the quest they could just buy 5 diamonds and turn them into a mark.
A bit later astral shards were introduced. 1 astral diamond could be turned into 5 astral shards. These shards could be used to purchase gold seal hirelings, they could be used to repair weapons and items anywhere in game and they still were the way to upgrade airships.
With the addition of the shard exchange in patch 17.1 a fourth type of currency is added(platinum, commodities such as scales and other collectibles, Turbine Points and Astral Shards). The shard exchange is basically the auction house where items can be put up for auction and people can bid astral shards for those items. Depending on the item Turbine takes a fee of 30% or 40% which I think is high.
It seems to me that Turbine is trying to cash in on the micro transaction craze that is going on with facebook and mobile apps. The good news is you don’t have to use this system and you can put your items up in the regular auction house for good ol’ platinum. As GamerGeoff points out here this could be Turbines way to kind of reset the economy. Ever since update 14 my characters have gotten richer and richer. I not plat capped, but I’m willing to say that I’m comfortable and if I really wanted to I could purchase pretty much anything. At the same time I’ve noticed that the price of things in the auction house have risen as well.
With this update Turbine has given a bit of incentive to become VIP. They’re giving a XP bonus of 10% to VIPs. Fernando said this was going to happen but I didn’t expect it until update 18. Some VIPs felt a bit slighted that they have to pay extra money for expansion packs when in the beginning they were told that they fork over money every month they’d get all content. Turbine got around this by saying that expansions were different the adventure packs. This seems like a casting of cure light wounds, but it’s better then nothing.
All in all I think this is going to be a good thing for DDO. I’m gonna stick around to see.