Friday, November 6, 2009

Shop Smart, RMT Pet Shop…Smart?

Aghast. That’s the precise word to describe my reaction to Blizzard’s introduction of real money transactions to the game. Aghast.

Old timers will know why I am aghast but if you are new or just don’t recall go back and read
this post wherein I stated my belief that the foundation for Warcraft greatness was the fact that it did not have real money transactions in the game.

Pets as Status Symbols


One of the major issues I have with real money transactions is that they are classist. They create a distinction between the haves and the have nots that is based upon a person’s out-of-game rather than in-game accomplishments. The fact that this distinction is merely visual (a pet) as opposed to functional (an epic) is of cold comfort. If anything, the visual distinction is much more “in your face” as opposed to an exp potion that no one sees you use.


Chris thinks the new pet store is just a logical extension of Blizzard revamping of account services but I don’t agree. If I am standing on the auction house bridge in Ironforge and your character that just had a faction change walks by I am clueless about any RMT activity unless I know you personally. If you have a RMT pet I know. I know because it is staring me in the face (my bank alt is a gnome.) With account services what is essentially out of sight can easily stay out of mind. Precisely because RMT pets are going to be always in sight the classist distinction will always be in mind.


This is also why I disagree that this move is just one tiny step in a history of selling pets by other means. There's a difference between a pet which is bought as part of another transaction and a pet that is bought directly. Taking off one’s underwear and hopping into bed is just one tiny step in a romance; most people would also acknowledge it’s a significant step. The first step on the moon was also one tiny step; it was also a giant leap for mankind. The size of the step doesn’t always correlate with what it portends. Little moves can signal big intentions.


An Accountants’ Game


Whether we see a full fledged RMT store will depend on the success of this pet foray. If the net profit margins meet expectations it will be full steam ahead. Don’t delude yourself into thinking Blizzard cares anymore about the fantasy world of Azeroth. This RMT development signals that in the future it is going to be the accountant, not the players or the developers, which is going to determine what is “detrimental to the game.” What the game boils down to now is profit maximization; that’s the greatness of the accountant’s game.


There is an old saying in politics that “elections have consequences.” Yet it never ceases to amaze me that people can talk about voting with their dollars and at the same time pretend those money elections have no consequences. When you buy a pet from the pet store you are not only buying a cute panda monk, you are electing to support with your dollars a specific business model. The consequence is that when you buy a pet from the pet store you are voting with your dollars for the sale of epics. It’s that simple.


An Issue of Trust


Most fundamentally I see RMTs a betrayal of trust by Blizzard. I began my hunt for a new MMO more than a year and a half ago by specifically eliminating any game that featured RMT or micro-transaction of any type. I joined Warcraft and invested my time in the game predicated upon the expectation that Warcraft was a subscription game and would continue to be so. The game had been a subscription game for the last three years; there was no indication in would not stay that way.

At the bottom of the Pet Store FAQ there is this question: “Will you be introducing the ability to buy epic weapons/etc. in the future, for example?” The relevant part of the response is “the Pet Store service is entirely optional and intended to provide players another means to enjoy World of Warcraft in a way that isn't detrimental to the game and that doesn't detract from the gameplay experience for players who choose not to use the service.” Notice the artful wording in that response. They avoid a direct answer to a simple question and that is never a good sign. Of course, even if they did directly say “no” I doubt I would believe them anymore. They also said they would never do faction changes or races either and well…you know what…they did. People keep insisting that the pet store is not on a slippy slope when all the evidence points to the fact it actually is on a slippery slope. Epics for sale. Wake up and smell the coffee.


Smart?


What I want is for the bullshit to stop. Don’t tell me that these are just pets and they don’t make any difference to the way one experiences the game because unless one is blind they do. Don’t tell me that these pets are just $10 items and Blizzard will never sell epics because Blizzard has refused to commit to that when asked directly; everything they are doing says if they can sell epics they will. Don’t tell me that I can trust Blizzard because I won’t accept a blind faith that totally ignores a pattern of past behavior. Actions have consequences. This action by Blizzard has consequences. So don’t tell me that this action by Blizzard is not a game changer; it is. Whether it is a smart game changer is going to depend on how players respond to it. Because our actions have consequences too.

54 comments:

Green Guts said...

I think the point that you are missing is simply this - the Item can be gifted to others. This one function allows for the in-game sale of such a Pet for GOLD and not real life Cash. Much the same way the TGC items work with in game transactions.

=) Fear not!

Tesh said...

"Don’t delude yourself into thinking Blizzard cares anymore about the fantasy world of Azeroth."

Some say that's been true for a few years now. I contend that such was *never* the case, considering that they don't do all that much for the *world*, but a lot for the *game* (including getting people to keep paying money for an extremely static experience). This latest move isn't really anything radical, but it will wake some people up to the trend that's been there for some time.

Anonymous said...

El,

You are failing to notice that BLizzard is a corporation thats in this buisness to MAKE MONEY, by any means possible. If some nugget wants to go out and spend real money on pixels then a company is going to be on it like a shot!!

Activision/blizzard made $1.6 billion 2007-2008, $1.4 billion from wow and merchandise alone, theres estimates out there saying $2.5 billion this year, With RMT/micro transactions thats easily done.

Yes it will spoil the game, but but lets face facts, the game started going down hill when Blizzard failed to stop Gold selling. I see this as a further continuance of the long slow fall that is this game.

Cacknoob (Activision shareholder!)

ColinSFX said...

Slippery slope is your whole problem with it? That's always a weak argument. And classist? You own a modern computer, a broadband internet connection, and you pay 15 dollars every month to subscribe to a game. I think WoW is already classist enough.

Where was your aghast when Blizzard offered a package for 30 extra dollars that came with three pets? You weren't even playing yet. How about trading cards for real money that gave pets, mounts, and fun stuff? I think that was before you too, no? Sorry for harping on, but this was the state of the game before you even got here, so to see a post start with such strong words comes off as a little bit nerdrage.

Blizzard is a business, they are good business people who make a product I thoroughly enjoy and am happy to pay money for. Microtransactions are the present and future of MMOs, especially WoW, which thrives on mass appeal and accessibility and is trying to move away from timesinks to differentiate the elite.

I hope you feel better about this soon, because I know your passion stems from an affection for the game. But breathe easy, have fun, and don't worry about playing in a way don't want to do, or what other people are doing.

Bloodshrike said...

Like you said in your previous post about charity, in the US, we're constantly asked for donations.

In Safeway, there's always a flavor of the month charity to give a $1 to, where you get the instant gratification of hearing the cashier go "whoo-hoo!"

I usually go by what I feel. If I have an urge to donate, or give money or food to a homeless person, I'll do it. No tickling of conscience, no money.

I might end up buying the Pandaren Monk, since it's pretty frickin cool, and would be well utilized by my 30 alts. And if they started selling old pets, like Tyrael or Mini-Diablo, I'd buy them for nostalgia, because WoW was the game that caused me to quit D2.

But if they sold epics, I wouldn't care. I don't get stuff to show off, and I don't check out what other people have. It would just be a decision based on how much enjoyment I'd get out of the pet, since all my alts collect them.

Anonymous said...

Arise comrades and throw down the oppressive proletariat with their Lil'KT with his nose in the air. Workers/raiders (but no gold farmers or noobs) of the world unite!

Free pets and epics for all!

Seriously they're giving away epics in TOC - it just means the people with less skill wear purple now instead of green or blue. Who cares if someone could buy epic equipment? So long as it's available through in-game accomplishments as well, who do you think is likely to be the better player?

Oh no, the guy who has a job so can't play 12 hours a day can actualy get decent equipment too.

Miss Medicina said...

I'm with you on this El. What irritates me most about these pets is that there is actually an achievement associated with how many pets you have. I have been trying to collect enough pets to get that achievement and the associated bonus pet that comes with it - to me it is a sign of all the effort I put into it.

And now, if I wanted to blow 20 dollars I could get myself closer to that goal - and others can as well, and it really dilutes the whole thing for me.

There are a lot of people who are encouraging folks to buy at least the Pandaren, because half of the proceeds go to charity! That may be so - but if they wanted to impress me with such a promo, the full ten dollars would go to Make a Wish. Instead, in order to "donate" that 5 dollars to Make a Wish via Blizz, you also have to give 5 bucks to Blizz. It's a win win for them - and it's an excellent PR stunt that still has a high profit margin for them.

I'm not opposed to Blizz making money, but this RMT condition just pisses me off because they are trying to pretty it up as though it were anything other than RMT.

Daraia said...

If it is logical to assume that "vanity pets" are only one step away from "epic armor" and this is an affront to you in that the possibility of such a thing happening then by all means take the next "logical" step and show them you will no longer support them with ANY of you dollars.

Everyone seems to be forgetting that "Blizzard" isn't JUST "Blizzard" anymore but "Activison Blizzard" it is a DIFFERENT company. SURE the game designers and developers are MOSTLY the same but the bean counters and money pushers aren't.

Why the shock that policies that "Blizzard" put in place 5 years ago when it was more designer and developer driven would get pushed aside by those who chase the dollar signs?

As you said if it is REALLY so bad then this will mark the beginning of the end of a successful game series and perhaps a power house company. Otherwise it will just be another bump in the road in which people over react.

Anonymous said...

I think they should make a game where all epics and vanity items require long grinds in order to accomplish epic feats of strength. Only the few elite players would ever progress beyond the starting zone, as to move on would require tremendous hand-eye coordination, impressive reflexes, and the ability to sit at a computer for hours. Then those few epic players could go their special little "elite" treehouse and discuss which epic loot gives them a .5 dps increase.

Of course subscription fees would have to be like $250 a month since only those few elites would be playing. Classist indeed.

Euripedes said...

"The consequence is that when you buy a pet from the pet store you are voting with your dollars for the sale of epics. It’s that simple."

This is wrong.

People have been paying cash for in-game pets since WoW launched.
This is nothing new.

Thistlefizz said...

I'm still formulating the way I want to articulate my opinion on this matter, but I have to say I find the comments here fascinating.

Crucifer said...

There are two major issues involved in this "pet shop" microtransaction.

A. What did it cost Blizzard to actually make the Panderan pet, and why didn't they give all $10 to charity as opposed to $5?

I find it abhorrent that Blizzard is using a charity as a means of apologising for their in-game pet. I would much rather they just admitted they will be selling pets for cash, than use the WWF as cover.

B. Would you rather spend three months trying to drop the Baron's Mount than pay $10 outright to get it straight away?

This is my dilemma. Although I work and can easily throw money at problems to fix things for convenience sake, I don't have the time to sit and play WoW every single night. I've just about managed to get into Ulduar with the help of some guildies. So for me, I could quite happily spend $10 and buy the pet.

On the other hand, I am very much aware that this transaction is now locking open the floodgates to abuse. Of course, you could buy cards or other items but you received something else with those purchases, be it an artbook or a deck of cards for gaming in the real world.

I will not be buying the pet. I could, and have enough money to buy absolutely everything I would want in the game - epics, vanity pets, mounts, gold - but I can't really see the point.

What's next? A lasher plant posing as a Red Poppy for Rememberance Sunday for $10?

The Rokk said...

Blizzard will never let players buy epic weapons or gear. It's that simple. However, anything that can be obtained from Loot Cards is fair game - including mounts.

Buying a Spectral Tiger mount from the Pet Store is not going to break the game, is it? No. There's other mounts with the same movement speed. You're paying for a skin.

The other services Blizzard has offered is much of the same. The Character Customization, etc, is part & parcel of the same thing as vanity pets - only the item you get in game is a modified avatar. It's all about the "ooohhh pretty", but instead of paying $15 for a new face/hairstyle, you pay ten bones and get an accessory that /bows or kills critters.

The RAF wasn't game-breaking. It was introduced as a controlled alternative to powerleveling services (which have mostly faded away), and even with that you got a free mount in the process. It let you level two characters to 60, and since Blizz was busy designing end game goodies, they wanted players out of the vanilla zones ASAP. (Note: expect this service to be discontined in time for Cataclysm).

The second transactions become less about vanity and more about game play, ie. Blizzard lets players buy gold or purple gear, they no longer have a game. People are not going to raid or do instances if they can simply buy the gear they want. There won't be any motivation except ego and achievements. It is not in their best interest to kill off their game at this time, so epic gear will not be on the market anytime soon.

Elnia said...

@The Rokk. "Blizzard will never let players buy epic weapons or gear. It's that simple."

What is your factual basis for that statement. Sounds like ipse dixit to me.

Stabs said...

I'm not saying Blizzard could never sell weapons but I do think that from a game design perspective there is a balancing point between what you monetise and what people feel incentivised to play for.

If you could buy all the best in slot epics for $1000 WoW would, I think, hemorrhage players. They would also ring up a lot of $1000 transactions at the virtual till.

But those epics would only be worth money if people were still motivated to raid. It would be incredibly difficult in practice for a guild leader to find 25 motivated people to raid hard content if such a system were in place. Because if you bought it you don't need the raid. And if you didn't buy it there's nothing special about raiding for it when any random rich guy can get one too.

Between that extreme and cash for fluff there are a lot of grey areas.

Companies are tentatively finding out that they can change play balance by monetising certain elements and get away with it. Exp potions are sold in many games. In WoW you recruit yourself as an alt if you want triple exp.

Back when I started WoW in 2005 raf would have been deeply shocking because in that year the main game was levelling not raiding.

In general businesses will push this as hard as they can to make money.

Personally if WoW doesn't need to raise the sub fee because they can find muppets to splash cash on trash I'm quite happy to let them subsidise my gameplay as long as it doesn't undermine it.

On the other hand I now view levelling in WoW as a horrible chore made worse by the option to pay for triple exp.

Rohan said...

I don't think they'd go directly to Epics. But what if they sold Heirloom items in the shop?

Would that be acceptable or unacceptable?

Fitz said...

While the move towards microtransactions is troubling because of the slippery slope, one would have to assume Blizzard is doing well enough to not need the extra money. One thing to consider is how vanity pets is a lot like people paying to recustomize their character. We now can pay some amount of money to swap factions, swap races, everything but classes basically. I see this as more customization but it's definitely toeing the line of a situation that may drive me out of WoW.

Tim Howgego said...

I still can't see what all the fuss is about. In-game pets have been sold via the Trading Card Game and eBay for years. The only thing that's changed is that Blizzard removed the middlemen, specifically those middlemen it could not license. That is, control and tax - 2 words which more-or-less summarise Blizzard's short-tern commercial strategy.

The most interesting aspect of the current situation is Blizzard's apparent hypocrisy: That they are prepared to accept RMT (specifically trading card game items) for items that have no use - no game advantage. Anything else offends their sense that all people are born (to the game) equally (paraphrased form a BlizzCon interview 2-ish years ago).

Yet "use value" in WoW is trivial compared to the signs and symbols of mounts (most obviously) and other "purely cosmetic" clutter like minipets. What you idle mounted on in Dalaran conveys value to those around you. And in a community-orientated game world, those around you are the ultimate arbiters of value.

Almost all of theses signs and symbols (Jean Baudrillard's terminology may transpire to be more relevant than I know) were originally bound. Potentially leading to the death of alturism - no mechanism to fix inequalities, as is possible with game currency in the traditional MUD model. RMT'ed currency ("gold") can at least be traded in game. And of course in this case gold actually conveys little value.

WoW's player demographic accentuates the problem further: The player population appears to lack "curtosis" of wealth - lots of either very rich, or very poor people, with a below national-average number in the middle. The inequalities imported from the outside world are greater.

Sociologically the implications of non-tradable consumerist goods in WoW are scary. So at least here we have a system for gifting these minipets. (That complements the recent change to the TCG items, even if it was to prevent scams.)

Overall, ethically I found the arena tournament minipet far more distasteful than Blizzard trying to sell minipets directly: Avid pet collectors were not only handing over cash with (often) the sole aim of gaining a rare minipet, but were obliqued to be farmed by PvPers (WarCraftPets chatter was full of groups simply trying to finish the matches as fast as possible). I presume that was intended to give the genuine contestants some easy wins: Throw 'em Christians to the lions!

I digress. As always.

spinksville said...

"In Safeway, there's always a flavor of the month charity to give a $1 to, where you get the instant gratification of hearing the cashier go "whoo-hoo!"

Bloodshrike, that's the opposite of instant gratification :)

Minipets make me a bit sad in general, because they used to be gained in an immersive way (you'd buy one from a pet dealer or it would be a rare drop from some mob, like a whelpling egg). But they started putting in minipets that should never have been in the game world at all, giving them out as random achievement awards, and it's become yet another thing to drag me out of the gameworld when I see it.

So from an immersion point of view, I don't like RMT. I want my game to feel like a living world, a proper simulation. I want to do things inside the world to gain rewards inside the world.

I don't much care how Blizzard makes money as long as its legal and WoW has never been all that immersive, but it's moving further and further away from what I really wanted. And I don't know if any other game will be what I want either now, why would they when people would pay $10 to walk down the street with their impossible mini lich minipet and feel they got their money's worth?

East Coast Insider said...

This seems like a pretty weak argument. Please tell me what game was ruined by micro-transactions involving vanity items. Also, where are these posts that Blizzard would never allow faction changes? Not to mention that Blizzard said that faction changes came about as a response to player requests.

Perhaps this is once again Blizzard responding to a very large contingent of fans asking for features that neither take away from your experience nor are outside your reach?

Anonymous said...

"Don’t delude yourself into thinking Blizzard cares anymore about the fantasy world of Azeroth."

Why does everyone seem to forget who CREATED the world of Azeroth?
Who did they create it for? You.
Why did they creat it? To make money.

Go figure.

Walgierz said...

I give Blizzard all benefit of doubt in the world. They make great games, most of their changes are making game better for me on a long run. So I am not concerned about selling pets.

But the moment they begin to sell real status symbols, content access or things meaningful for a top-level content, I am out. Simple as that.

PS. Actually they DO sell access to a new content in form of expansions, but it's obviously special case. I am talkin rather about something like "new Island of Quel'Danas minus Sunwell raid".

Leah said...

I disagree. you know what blizzard did there? they got tired of people buying booster packs inexpensively and then reselling pet/mount codes for huge profit on e-bay with none of the proceeds going to blizzard. they got tired of the select few who were willing to pay pretty large real life amounts for little in game vanities and blizzard not getting a cut of that. how many people do you think are buying a card game to actually play the game vs those who just buy it to have/resell vanity codes?

they are actually breaking a distinction between haves and have nots becasue most anyone paying 15 bucks a month just to play a game can afford an extra one time 10 to get a cute pet for every character they have. Very few people are willing to spend the kind of money that rooster mount or spectral tiger is selling for.

did I buy those pets? hell yeah. the same way I payed extra for a collectors edition of Wrath of the lich king, becasue I loved the way frosty looked.

Concider this. A movie ticket costs $12. popcorn and a drink at the movie theater is another $12. I don't remember when was the last time I saw a movie that stayed with me past few days after the viewing. and if I wanted to see the movie again, I either had to wait for it to become purchasable for $25 on a dvd, or hope that it comes out on TV in a foorseeable future to not pay any extra beyond what I pay for cable TV service (or pay $3 to a video rental just to have the movie in my hands for couple of days) as a contrast, this pet will be there for me to enjoy in game, as long as I'm playing the game. and after that one fee? that's it.

it doesn't make it any easier for me to play. its not an epic weapon or a piece of armor. heck those are easy enough to get without having to pay an extra cent. its just a cute little bit of fun.

heck by your rationale you should be having a lot more issues with game guides that are sold at bookstores, becasue there you are, paying real world money to get in-game advantage.

pets? not the same thing at all.

Ephemeron said...

They create a distinction between the haves and the have nots that is based upon a person’s out-of-game rather than in-game accomplishments.

Everyone who plays on an official server is, by definition, a person able and willing to spend real-world money (in form of monthly payments and biannual expansions) on virtual entertainment - in other words, a "have".

The *real* Warcraft have-nots are the ones playing on buggy private servers because they can't afford to buy a game box, much less pay a monthly fee.

boatorious said...

Slippery slope my ***. Recruit-a-friend was a slippery slope (and they have not slipped further), this is not.

Neither will RMT tabards, mounts, squire-outfits, mount banners, logon screen doilies, or what have you, cause sloping issues.

At least ten times a year I hear that Blizzard is going to do something to ruin the game. Five years later they have yet to ruin the game.

Hatch said...

"The consequence is that when you buy a pet from the pet store you are voting with your dollars for the sale of epics."

Nope. I think even Blizzard's most cynical realize that there is a biiiig difference between selling vanity and selling power.

I'm fairly neutral on the pet shop, but even I would outright quit the game if they started selling epics. And I think they realize that on that count, you and I are in the majority.

Hatch said...

"They create a distinction between the haves and the have nots that is based upon a person’s out-of-game rather than in-game accomplishments."

Hyperbole much? It's. ten. dollars.

If someone is so poor that ten dollars breaks the bank, then how are they affording $15 a month?

Hatch said...

Also, Leah makes some great points in her comment. I especially love how there was no uproar when you could pay extra for the collector's edition of wrath and get a minipet. Because, you see, that wasn't a microtransaction, because...

...because...


.......?

Ephemeron said...

I'm fairly neutral on the pet shop, but even I would outright quit the game if they started selling epics. And I think they realize that on that count, you and I are in the majority.

Ah, but what if they start selling access to epics?

Pay 5$ for a "mini-expansion" that allows you to enter an exclusive new instance with shiny epics - but you'll still have to kill the bosses within.

Would you quit the game over that, ignore it... or hand over the money?

Thistleseer said...

Since inception, WoW has allowed real world cash for pets:

1) Collector's edition (pay $10-30 more than everyone else and get an extra pet)
2) Blizzcon attendance (pay equivalent of several months' worth of subscription fees and get an extra pet)
3) TGC (pay $20-hundreds of dollars for trading card with codes to be exchanged for in-game pets)
4) Blizzcon pay-per-view

There is one distinction between these methods that have been around for years and the pet shop: everyone has equal access to using their real world money for pets (and generally at a much cheaper rate than the other methods).

It's just not the end of the world or WoW as we know it.

shmoo said...

@Crucifer

Abhorrent that Blizzard elects to give a donation from sales to a charity? Do you find hypocrisy equally abhorrent? Do you really need a reason to give money to a charity? No-one is stopping you or others from giving directly to Make-a-Wish. The reality is that people have an additional incentive to buy if they're provided an "altruistic" bonus, such as charitable donation.

love,
shmoo

lonomonkey said...

I'm with Spinks on this one. The more the game moves forward the more immersion we lose.

I don't care much for RMT for vanity items but the way they are going about it will only break immersion more...

Carra said...

I dislike these new items. I especially dislike the fact that they ask €10 instead of $10. Even at $10 it leaves out the micro in microtransaction.

But as long as it's just fluff items I don't care that much. You really do not have to buy them to be competitive. And Blizzard is trying to make more profit.

And as you mention: you can vote with your wallet. If you dislike the new pets then don't buy them or stop playing. If it ever gets so far that they offer epic items then only the second option will remain. They'll stop offering microtransactions if the playerbase drops beneath a point where offering microtransactions returns them less money then not offering them.

Elnia said...

@spinks and lonomonkey. Yes, I agree that it breaks immersion but I wanted to focus on the "why". It's not just the fact that they are pets but what they are symbol of...real world money. It is the insertion of real world items into what is supposed to be a fanstasy environment that breaks the immersion.

Someone makes the point that even playing an MMO is a status symbol and I agree. But I don't see another player's computer or their rocking headset. I see a pet.

@carra. I agree with everything in your comment.

The Rokk said...

@Elnia -

As it has been stated, epics are the carrots that entice players to tackle the heroic instances and raids. The second Blizzard removes that carrot, they undo all the work they did to design the content in the first place.

They currently have a pet shop, with two pets. That's it. They compare these pets with items obtained through Loot Cards. Cosmetic vanity items, like tabards and mounts, which have no impact on gameplay. It's superficial, and until the wheels have fallen off of WoW, they won't sell the carrots that keep people playing the content.

Elnia said...

@The Rokk. Who has stated that epics are carrots? Ghostcrawler has specifically stated several times that epics are the problem keeping people out of instances. That's why they blew up the loot system and introduced badges.

Abe said...

Blizzard never said never... they almost always say they have no immediate plans... then the player base begs and moans for x y and z so they do it.

Leah said...

you...are..not..forced..to ...buy..anything.

those pets are vanity items and just like no one is making you buy a traveler's tundra mammoth (who's actually more useful in game then vanity pets are) - NO ONE is forcing you to buy those pets.

they do not improve your gameplay (some might argue that they make it worse with their noises, but vanity pets being intrusive is nothing new). they do NOT give you advantage over other players. they do NOT give you any edge whatsoever. they are not even an argent bridle for your gruntling/squire.

you know what the difference is with selling epics? raiding guilds might require you to buy them to get that competitive edge and if you think blizzard doesn't realize that or the impact it will have on their player base? you are very naive. its one thing making epics available through running less time consuming content (like shorter heroics) its quite another selling them outright.

honestly, I would have been more worried when they introduced RaF becasue essentially, it was a legal version of powerleveling

the one thing I might grudgingly agree with that pets break the immersion a bit, but then again, every single pop culture reference in a game does the exact...same...thing.

I've never found WoW to be particularly immersive from a role playing stand point. I seemed to me more of a Terry Pratchet Universe, occasionally serious, rarely shallow, but always just a bit tongue in a cheek.

Illtree said...

I disagree. you know what blizzard did there? they got tired of people buying booster packs inexpensively and then reselling pet/mount codes for huge profit on e-bay with none of the proceeds going to blizzard.

They get a cut of the card sales...how is that not a portion of the proceeds?

Not every pack of cards grants a code. You know that right. The pets and mounts are rare.

The problem with this is not the pet, the problem is the fact that this is opening the door for other micro-transactions like T11 gear. If you could spend 12 hours a week raiding for 2 months or 50 dollars to get your T11 what would you chose. With the increasingly casual player-base, and more specifically the "entitled casual" player-base the answer is an overwhelming buy it not raid.

To be quite honest it doesn't bother me that i dont have the top end gear because i dont do end game content at the moment. What does bother me is when people use the argument that my fifteen dollars is just as important as theirs so i deserve equal gear. TBH no you don't. If you don't have the drive or ability to get it, then you shouldn't have it.

To be blunt, if you have to buy things with real life money to make yourself feel better in a game, you should invest that money in some therapy, cause you have a problem that stems beyond WoW.

P.S. The first thing i noticed was the very vague answer to a honest question in the FAQ. It sounds like ActiBlizzard is gearing up to push the RMT snowball down the hill. Sadly we are all in the way of it.

SlikRX said...

The ONLY half-way solid argument against these pets is the one about the achievement: $$$ can get you 4% closer to getting the Shop Smart achievement.

I game a lot on my XBOX/XBOX Live, which is RIFE with "microtransactions". And even greedy Microsoft has been careful to prevent game breaking transactions. (for example, you can't buy perks for the Call of Duty games)

As already stated by many others, most WoW players are already "Monetary Haves".

The biggest rift in the game now is a Have/Have-not gap for TIME.

The HAVE TIME folks get to join active guilds, see all the content (as much as they chose) and enjoy the complete WoW Experience.

The TIME HAVE NOTs play as much of the game as they can, see what content they can, and deal with life (work, school, whatever).

It's not fair, and no change that Blizzard can/will make could possibly make it fair. Some group will always be on the "not" side.

IMHO, adding a few vanity pets will not cause any significant disturbance in The Force.

If "cutting edge" epics were ever sold, I think they would have slain the golden goose, as it were. Too many people would quit.

That being said, I would NOT be surprised if "low level" epics were eventually offered for sale. It will get more time challenged people closer to end game.

And I'm not sure *I* would like that either. But there it is...

Carra said...

The ONLY half-way solid argument against these pets is the one about the achievement: $$$ can get you 4% closer to getting the Shop Smart achievement.

At that rate one achievement only costs $200 dollars.

Dw-redux said...

The next addition to wow just became available:
Avoid the "no more instances can be launched" error.
For an additional 5 USD per month you can access the expanded server status (or 'ess').

This will work with players who have not access to this service, as long as the leader of a group has purchased the service.


Slippery slope, is a slippery slope.

We Fly Spitfires said...

I don't think pets are any more classist than anything else in WoW (or any other MMORPG). They just reward money whereas most mechanics in MMOs reward time instead. Personally, I think it's more classist to reward those that have the time to raid 5 nights a week than it is to reward someone that can afford $10 :)

Shamrockgirl said...

First of all, these little pets will not be getting me any closer to any achievement unless they make another achievement. I currently have 85 mini pets. I hope that Blizz realizes that if they begin to sell stuff that really matters in the game that they will lose a big chunk of their player base. I would never buy a piece of gear for real money, i just wouldn't feel like i earned it. that being said, blizz is in this business to make money and if they want to sell vanity stuff for money they have the right to do so.

i am still contemplating buying the 2 pets at this time... it is likely that i will at least get lil' KT, but i am tempted to get the other one for the make a wish donation as well.

Crucifer said...

@Shmoo.

If I volunteer my time to help a charity, I don't normally expect my work time lost to be paid off by cash donations. That's why its called a charity.

In this case, Blizzard is electing to pay some cash to a charity but still making a profit from the tie-in.

Do you not find someone who makes a profit off a charity tie-in distateful?

Anonymous said...

When Blizzard put up the DirectTV online thing for BlizzCon with free Grunty, there were a lot of posts from people saying, "Can't you just sell us the pet by itself for cheaper cause I'd only be buying the stream for that anyway."

These kind of comments have come from the card game loot cars, the collector edition pets, etc.

They're giving people what they wanted.

When these two pets were leaked on mmo-champion, there was theories that they were going to be for the collector edition for caty just cause the models were so detailed. And people would have bought the collector's just for the pets.

They are giving players what they asked for. Which is why I don't think epics will be on the list in the future. Noone wants paid epics, a lot of people wanted to cut out the middle man and be able to buy pets straight from Blizz.

Anonymous said...

@ Crucifer

Where have you been? These kind of promotions happen all the time. In fact, compared to a lot of the 'Buy X and we'll give Y to a charity deals", Blizzard is giving more than usually. Usually it's crap like for every dollar we'll give 10 cents. At least here, they are giving half.

I would rather these things be in the game to work for as achievement rewards or something, and I was disappointed to see a cash for items store.

But the amount of people that seem to act like Blizzard is the first company to do a charity tie in where they keep a portion of the proceeds confuses me.

Crucifer said...

@ Anonymous

I don't normally support those marketing ploys because I find them transparently disingenious.

I would have less issue with donating $10 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and for them to give me a code that I then exchange for a Blizzard Pet on the online petstore, and letting the charity and Blizzard sort out who gets the money.

Anonymous said...

@ Crucifer

Ah, ya. That would be really cool if they did that instead.

But then I guess they wouldn't have the sugar coating for their new system lol.

Anonymous said...

If you had to go back and pug with half the fail that is around these days, you'd pay $80 for a full t7.5 set in a heart beat.

that's the only option for some people. they cannot get into anything because they didn't rush with the first wave.

Deathwing Whelp (RMT only) said...

Wat? The RMT Shop? The dubious charity scheme? Lil'-freaking-K.T.?
Why oh why, dear Bliz?*

- We did it for the Hoard! For the Horde, I mean.

Oh.

- Also for teh blog drama.

Really?

- Also we wanted seriously ill children to see their dreams come true.. Wait, nvm that. We just wanted to piss Elnia off. 'Cause she waters down her ale, y'know.

Ah. Okay.

- The RMT shop was also designed to eliminate any chances that players would get immersed into the world of Azeroth. Actually we wanted to do this with the vanilla WoW release but the pigtailed gnome females had failed us. Damn midgets.

- Well said and thank you for your time.

*This is an excerpt from the interview with a Blizzard executive. Yarly.

Anonymous said...

Aghast. That's the precise word to describe my reaction to most blogger's reaction to Blizzard's introduction of RMT to the game.

Stautus symbols? Seriously? People like you are "classist". You go on with the belief that "OMG he doesn't have the widdle pet, he must be a poor widdle slob that can't afford it". /rolls eyes/

You are soooo typical. Oh, if I can't see it it must ok - that way I don't have to "classify" you. (account srvices angle)

The main problem is people like you who need to see way too far into things. You are no better than people who spam LFG for heroics requiring Epic. Classist.

Why don't you get off of your high horse and join us lowly folk for a bit - you might just learn soemthing.

I don't have any of these new pets. I don't have any of the TCG pets. I don't have any of the Collector's edition pets. I don't have the Blizzcon pet.

But I collect pets on my main. Strictly the "free" ones. 66/75 so far. I'll have the rest before the year is over. And then I'll have the meaningless (in-game benefit-wise) achievement.

I won't get the RMT pets - not because I can't afford them, but because I don't feel a need to buy them.

And what, exactly, makes the other RMT pets so different in your view? Let's see - a limited number of limited edition game pets - ok with you because you were fortunate enough to be able to spend extra money on the same damn game. How about TCG pets - ok with you because it's ok to spend $1000 on ebay or hundreds on trading cards just to get a pet. Blizzcon - ok because why not drop $40 for a direct TV feed for a pet?

You are right - isn't a tiny step in a history of selling pets; it is a huge one making pets available for sale for a fraction of the cost that they were otherwise being sold for.

"voting with you dollars for the sale of epics" is utterly bullshit. Saying the Blizz doesn't care about Azeroth is also complete, utter bullshit. I think the problem lies squarely betwixt your ears. If they were only worried about the cash, you'd see alot more RMT and alot less being put into the game. What past behaviour sows such doubt that Blizz will not sell epics and such? Hmmm?

PVE to PVP transfers - "not at this time" or as you heard "never, ever, ever"

Faction change - "not at this time" or as you heard "never, ever, ever"

"As with the pets, mounts, and other items players can obtain through Loot cards from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, Pet Store pets are purely cosmetic and just for fun. Like other paid services we offer, such as Paid Name Changes, Race Changes, and Character Re-Customizations, the Pet Store service is entirely optional and intended to provide players another means to enjoy World of Warcraft in a way that isn't detrimental to the game and that doesn't detract from the gameplay experience for players who choose not to use the service." - or as you heard "it it makes us gobs of money aww hells yeah"


I want this bullshit to stop too. Your bullshit.

Federico said...

Fizz, "well enough" for a company does not exist. Only "as much as possible" exists, or it would be detrimental to the stockholders :P

Lasitus said...

A Future Blue Post:
"We are excited to announce that we will be adding armor and weapons to the WoW General Store. Since the game was released we have worked hard to make it possible for all players to see end game content. We feel that many players still have much difficulty acquiring the appropriate gear for them to be accepted into a raiding guild.
The gear selections will be managed carefully. An example would be that when most guilds are raiding Ulduar and beyond we can start offering Naxx gear. Since pugs can be difficult to find for beginner raiders this option will bridge the gap for a large number of players struggling with the pre-raiding gear grind."


It's very easy for me to imagine this type of scenario as we've seen change after change in this direction already.