Since day 1 that D3 vanilla launched, sockets have been a problem. A luxury. A mandatory presence in gearing for every slot in which a socket is available.
For nearly 2 years we wanted a way to add sockets. Now we have that ability. Awesome. Right?
Let's examine the socket. What it is. What it does and how it affects character building in a critical manner.
Critical Hit Damage is still too strong and predominant. Mandatory on weapons in most cases. This means that 1 of your very limited primary affixes MUST be a socket on your weapon.
Why is a socket an affix? Well, you can customize it with a variety of affixes garnered from gems, "adding" an affix to an item. The word "adding" is often used here, and the whole premise of sockets is sold to us via the impression that we're "adding" an affix. We are not adding an affix, however. When we socket an item, we're removing an affix and replacing it with another.
Addition through subtraction, we're getting too much of this for the sake of balance. Balance is necessary, but we're constricting itemization terribly, suffocating it by making yet another affix mandatory. We have enough of that already.
I submit that the developers are using sockets incorrectly. That sockets should NOT be an affix.Sockets should be exclusive to affixes, making it so that when we do add a socket we're actually adding an affix as opposed to replacing one, as we are now.
I cannot see a solution beyond the one I'm proposing that would actually make sockets not problematic yet mandatory, aside from jst removing them altogether. My solution doesn't relieve the socket of it's typical "mandatory" impression. However, my suggestion does make sockets non-problematic. Nothing need be taken away, eliminating addition through subtraction in this case.
Another possibility would be reckoning the socket affix as secondary.