This review is for the product as it is on 5/14/2012 and does not reflect any future additions or changes.
A few of my friends are producing a free Diablo 3 guide and they got into a discussion with Markco, who writes Diablo 3 Gold Secrets, about the validity of guides before the game's even released, all that stuff. Markco approached me to review his guide, I assume to give it some credibility, and I answered the call.
First off, note that no affiliate links appear in this post. I'm not reviewing this to make money or advertise, I'm reviewing it because, as I said when I reviewed WoWCrusher, if I have the time I will review any guide provided to me for review purposes. (Assuming I have the time!) So here's what's up.
Markco's guide is currently rather small. That's kind of to be expected when the game isn't even out yet (technically it probably is by the time you're reading this, but the guide's been available for a while now) and, to be honest, the information that is in the guide is informative and useful for players who are new to Diablo 3's item system or to using in-game economies.
As someone who didn't study much about D3 beforehand I'll admit even I, an avid D2 player and skilled WoW gold-maker, found the basic rundown of the Auction House set up useful. It helped me get a handle on the mystery that is the crafting system, something Diablo didn't previously have, and as far as money making goes gave me a nice breakdown of fees for using the Real Money Auction House.
When you get Markco's guide you also are given a free trial of the forums, I believe the free trial is about three months. The forum both provides a community of players to speak with as well as a way for Markco to dispense information regularly. I was particularly surprised to see a podcast section with over a dozen episodes already out. The podcasts are short, usually only a few minutes, but they're all to the point and informative.
One thing to note is that buying the guide only gives you a trial of the forums. So after three months if you still want to be a part of the forums, something that seems to be the highlight of the service, you have to continue to pay an ongoing amount. I would have liked to see permanent forum access rolled into the purchase of the guide considering the guide will apparently cost nearly as much as the game itself, but that's not my decision to make.
The Bottom Line
Here's the deal about pretty much every guide, and I believe it rings true here. The information is probably available out there, scattered around the internet for free. If you're interested in spending the time teaching yourself how to do all this stuff I'm sure you can without paying a cent.
However, not everyone has the time or inclination. I think that this set up provides a very easy way for players not interested in doing a lot of homework to stay up to date on relevant information.
According to the sales page it looks like the guide will eventually cost about fifty dollars. I do recommend you ask yourself if you're willing to pay almost as much as you paid for the game for a collection of information about it. Odds are as more people sink their teeth into the game more and more sites will pop up with great, free information, and so I do not think I would ever say this guide is a necessity. TBH at fifty dollars plus an ongoing fee to remain a member of the forums I'm not sure I would recommend this guide, but I will say that it wasn't a bunch of fluff, the information was useful. I'm just not sure it's fifty dollars worth of useful.