Path of Exile has a longstanding tradition of player interaction in the trading market. Trade is a key element of the game, and players who may be unfamiliar with this feature in the beginning eventually warm up to it. A large proportion of gamers engage in some form of trading as they gain experience. Although trade is a popular means by which Path of Exile items can exchange hands, an important issue comes to light: Players may become dependent on using the marketplace to find upgrades to their items instead of playing the game itself.
When the developers at Grinding Gear Games go as far as to suggest that items should be permanently locked to the characters that found them, or the accounts used to log in to play, then criticism becomes inevitable. Many seasoned action RPG players found the absence of item binding to be one of the most attractive features of Path of Exile, having witnessed the effects of this feature on previous games.
As far as the PoE items themselves are concerned, one of the prevailing philosophies is that whatever item a character happens to drop in the game, that item has intrinsic value as a tool while maintaining extrinsic value as a commodity. Within the game, every item is sellable to whoever is in need of it.
We still wonder, however: aside from preventing players from growing dependent on trading to acquire the items they need, what are the other goals or reasons for implementing item binding in the game? As trade gets better, playing the actual game loses its appeal. Surely, if one aspect of the game outshines another, then there is a natural tendency to want to achieve some kind of balance.
Trading with other players is not universally superior to in-game item acquisition, however. At low gear levels, items are easy enough to come across while playing the game. Essences are valuable items as well. And in every league, even highly seasoned players tend to use chaos spamming to craft.
The possibility of incentivizing finding gear in the game, while remaining indifferent to the trading activity in the marketplace (i.e. laissez faire policy), seems like a feasible compromise.
Another area that some players feel needs improvement is the frequency of the drop rates of some items. Items that do not become available as reasonably quickly as they would like tend to stick in their minds more readily than items that they don’t really need, let alone would rather not pick up. So making some items drop with greater frequency, or tailoring the increase in frequency of item drops to cater to the character currently in play, may be a wise adjustment.
For better or for worse, the trading system in Path of Exile is functionally no different from an auction house, which means that trading is as easy as it is ever going to get. Items of very high value are another matter, however, as their value may increase sharply if item binding were to be implemented in the game.