Blizzard's $25 Flying Pony: Milestone or Mishap?

When we wrote about the Pet Store last year, we jokingly suggested that mounts and gear might someday be for sale as well. Now that Blizzard is selling a $25 mount, what does this mean for the future?

When World of Warcraft publisher Blizzard opened its Pet Store last November, it marked a significant change in the way the company does business with its customers. By selling a couple of new (and exclusive) vanity pets in its online store, Blizzard set a precedent; for the first time in the MMO's history, players could buy in-game content in exchange for "real" money. World of Warcraft had finally adopted the micro-transaction revenue model, which naturally raised the question, "What's next?"

Among other issues, that's one of the questions we tried to tackle in our news-editorial, "What's Next, Blizzard? Mounts and Gear For Cash?", published a few days after the announcement. At the time, we were being a tad facetious; player reaction was split, with opponents fearing that Blizzard would begin selling more than just vanity pets in the days to come. Ironically, some of those claims weren't too far off-base. As we reported last week, Blizzard added the new Celestial Steed mount to its merchandise, hitting yet another milestone.

THE PRICE

The Algalon-inspired Celestial Steed is a flying/ground hybrid mount that scales with your riding skill, up to 310 percent speed if you already have a flying mount capable of that speed (check out Wowhead's Celestial Steed item page for details). Like Blizzard's other micro-transaction items, the mount binds to your account, so any of your existing or future characters can redeem it after purchase.

The mount costs $25 USD or, as ZAM's MisterBones pointed out in his original news post, the price of "dinner at The Olive Garden." But is 25 bucks too expensive for a twinkly new flying mount? As we noted in our previous editorial, even $10 for vanity pets like the Pandaren Monk or the new Lil' XT is fairly pricey, compared to relative content in other MMOs.

And what about the bigger picture? Was Blizzard's first attempt in the micro-transaction market so successful that its online store will be flooded with items by this time next year? Finally, the question is raised once again; "What's next?" With the new Battle.net marketplace for WoW and future games just around the corner, are we finally beginning to feel the consumer impact of the Activision-Blizzard merger, as opponents suggest?

Is $25 too expensive for a World of Warcraft mount? If it was, they wouldn't be selling like hotcakes. According to an article at 1UP.com (based on estimates from WoW.com, assuming neither party misinterpreted proprietary aspects of the Blizzard Store's queuing system), Blizzard sold $2 million worth of Celestial Steeds just four hours after its release. That figure comes from WoW.com's report that the Blizzard Store was queued up to 80,000 by 4:45 p.m. EDT on April 15. Less than three hours later, at 7:30 p.m. EDT, the queue was more than 140,000, according to WoW.com.

THE FUTURE

In our previous editorial, we mentioned that price points are ultimately determined by customers themselves. Like most companies, Blizzard won't release details and figures about its micro-transaction items, or the multitude of factors it used to slap the $25 price tag on the Steed, or the original $10 for vanity pets. But one of the most important factors—if not the most important—is, and always will be, customer demand.

We don't need an internal sales report to gauge that demand, either. A brief stroll in Ogrimmar, Stormwind or Dalaran is we all we need to see that players are obviously buying the special pets; by the beginning of this year, it was difficult to walk more than 100 yards without stepping on a Pandaren Monk. And even though the Celestial Steed and Lil' XT have only been out for a week, how many of them did you see on your server last weekend?

Granted, many players balk at the idea of spending $10 or $25 for an exclusive pet or mount, and the majority of WoW's player base will probably never buy one. But as long as Blizzard can turn a profit from low-risk endeavors like these—even among a small niche of customers—they're here to stay.

Is it right, though? Do exclusive items like these foster jealousy and segregation between players, as we asked in our previous editorial? Proponents of micro-transactions claim that no one is forcing you to buy anything, and as long as Blizzard only sells "vanity" items that don't affect gameplay, there's no harm in it.

We agree with that sentiment for the most part, but we've also seen plenty of backlash from MMO players when a publisher oversteps or an item store goes out-of-control. It's recently happened with EverQuest II, Allods Online and Star Trek Online, just to name a few.

Most fans agree that, despite whatever the future holds for micro-transactions in WoW, Blizzard will never sell stat-enhancing or gameplay-influencing items (not as long as it's still charging a monthly subscription, at least). The problem is that fans enjoy many different aspects of the game; some players don't care about raiding and progression, or the stat-building and gear-enhancement related to those aspects.

Some players get more fulfillment out of things like role-playing or exotic item collection, and that's what Blizzard needs to keep in mind as it eventually releases more micro-transaction content. What if Blizzard introduced exclusive Warlock demon skins in the item store, for example? Such an item wouldn't affect gameplay at all, but many players would feel they're missing out on something they should be "entitled" to without paying extra money.

That's an extreme and unrealistic example, but it helps to articulate the point; just because an item or feature doesn't affect stats or combat gameplay, that doesn't mean it isn't valuable to millions of players who already pay a monthly subscription fee.

THE "KOTICK FACTOR"

The issue of micro-transactions in World of Warcraft might be more relevant in the "bigger picture" than many Blizzard fans realize. We're not conspiracy nuts here at ZAM, and we don't indiscriminately denounce successful game developers and publishers as "sell-outs." However, there's no denying that Bobby Kotick's business strategies are running rampant throughout Blizzard today.

Kotick is the CEO and president of Activision-Blizzard, infamous among the gaming community for his quote to MTV Multiplayer, when he explained that he's not interested in supporting games that "don't have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises."

So if you're one of the millions of Blizzard fans wondering why StarCraft 2 will be released in three separate games instead of one, that's one big reason. Why release a single game when you can split it into three, especially since it's not an MMO? Sustained revenue is understandably "all the rage" these days; first-person shooters and real-time strategy games are milking gamers for every penny they can via "downloadable content" and other add-on packs.

PC gamers of the 1990s are used to this crazy concept of "free online multiplayer" when they purchase virtually anything except an MMO, otherwise the industry would have already tried to switch the paradigm, charging monthly subscriptions for all online play. ZAM readers discussed this topic, expressing frustration and discontent, when we reported that the new Battle.net won't support LAN play for SC2 and other upcoming games.

In addition to splitting games into multiple releases, Blizzard's upcoming Battle.net marketplace (announced at BlizzCon 2009) will emulate content-on-demand services like Apple's App Store, Steam or Xbox Live. Players will be able to purchase downloadable content like maps, mod packs and more for StarCraft 2 and Diablo III.

We can't blame Blizzard for being financially-innovative and wringing its games for every penny they're worth; that's just good business, as long as the quality holds. The company has to perform for its shareholders as well its fans, as we reported a couple months ago. But there's also something to be said for mutual respect and trust between a company like Blizzard and its customers, and doesn't take much to break that relationship—especially when there are so many other fish in the sea.

Comments

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Value and Price vary from person to person
# May 03 2010 at 5:06 PM Rating: Default
For myself, though I haven't bought the Celestial Steed (yet), I'm seriously considering it. Sure, it's not so unique that it's a stand out item. But it is visually appealing. It has the advantages others have mentioned, bind to account, saving in game gold for multiple characters, etc., etc., etc. There's one point that hasn't really been broached yet. And most may say that it's unrelated. But what about the mounts received through the loot cards in the TCG?

Most of these have been relatively low impact in the secondary market (auction, eBay, Craig's list) with one exception, the Spectral Tiger. While most of us thought it insane, the unredeemed loot card sometimes sold in excess of $1,000 (US) on eBay. There was obviously a market for that mount. Admittedly, the Celestial Steed has no real scarcity (unless Blizzard has some internal limit on the number of keys they're going to sell), but that doesn't change the fact that mounts (and pets, and non-combat items) have been sold for real currency, albeit through indirect channels.

I try for the Swift Zulian Tiger whenever I can, and the odds of getting it aren't the best. But the only reason I do that is because I really want a cat mount for my Horde main. The Spectral Tiger was the only other option. No, I didn't buy one for the extortionist prices on eBay. But that doesn't mean that, to me, $100 wouldn't have been the magic price in the Blizzard store. Obviously, some people spent considerably more on that mount in auctions and felt it was worth it.

I always wondered "what if" Blizzard were to solicit real world designers to create limited quantity items (X per realm, for example) that could be placed for charity auction on eBay (again, for example). Proceeds going to select charities. Perhaps a Versace dress, or Ralph Lauren "suit"? Both the 'designer' (that would assist Blizzard's artists generate the model and texture) and Blizzard would get the press from the charity event. They could even potentially garner some write-offs for "donation" of programmer / modeler / artist time. The charity would gain some support and PR, and the gamers could potentially have a chance at some fun items.

While I don't want to see game changers where someone with deep pockets just buys out a full epic set of weapons and armour (I'd choke if a hunter were carrying a Winchester® Shotgun) I think it'd be an interesting way for Blizzard to help the real world out.

If you made it this far, thanks for putting up with my random thoughts.
Value and Price vary from person to person
# May 05 2010 at 11:19 PM Rating: Decent
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TerenasDeshwitat wrote:
For myself, though I haven't bought the Celestial Steed (yet), I'm seriously considering it... It has the advantages others have mentioned...saving in game gold for multiple characters, etc., etc., etc.


Yay buying gold by proxy!

Why wait for Blizzard to let you do it? Just RMT direct! :D
Inaccurate Statement
# May 03 2010 at 4:52 AM Rating: Default
1 post
To WaxPaper:
Please get your facts straight.

As stated in your first paragraph, I quote,"Blizzard set a precedent; for the first time in the MMO's history, players could buy in-game content in exchange for "real" money."

This statement is entirely inaccurate, and false.

City of Heroes has actually been doing this for a few years now, and Blizzard is just "jumping on the marketing bandwagon", as it were.

City of Heroes has various game add-on packs that give you content that is exclusive to that add-on, but can be viewed by everyone.

So, to say that Blizzard is the first to do this is completely inaccurate.
Inaccurate Statement
# May 05 2010 at 9:24 AM Rating: Excellent
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I think he was referring to the first time in World of Warcraft, not MMOs in general.

"Blizzard set a precedent; for the first time in the MMO's history, players could buy in-game content in exchange for "real" money."

"the MMO's" being singular - so he's not harping on CoH. Additionally, CoH wasn't the first MMO to do it either. Free to play games have done it for years. :)
I guess it really is just a business at heart
# Apr 30 2010 at 5:35 PM Rating: Default
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I wonder if Blizzard is cashing in on the Blizzard store because they know of how discontent many players are on the changes of the game since the nerfs started back in BC and realize the more the game is dumbed down the closer WoW is to reaching it's life's end.

Games change and evolve but vanilla WoW had a good thing going. People had to work together and know their class. Crowd control, let the tank get aggro built before you attack, professions providing useful gear, and a "hey random stranger let's group up and help each other out to have fun while we gear up" was what WoW was all about.

I still remember when reaching 60 was the sh*t and getting into a raid or even just getting a piece of that level 60 blue tier .5 set was so exciting. Now you can just farm instances for 2 weeks and epic yourself out to the point where only raiding can grant any upgrades.

Remember world server events that you had to participate in as a server to try to unlock cool places such as AQ?

The only thing WoW is lacking to complete it's sell out status is cheat codes. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start anyone?
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Arguments
# Apr 28 2010 at 11:11 AM Rating: Good
2 posts
When I first saw that blizzard was selling pets in the pregame lobby, I laughed and started up the game. I feel that this is a total waste of money and I would never buy any of these in game items. I feel that it is even cheap of Blizzard to make you pay money for realm/faction transfers. But as I read the arguments above I have to agree with the side 'It is ok that blizzard is selling pets and mounts'. I feel that the other side has good points but does nerfing the game really have that much to do with this topic. Yes WoW is nothing like I remember it being and I feel the old generation of players will soon leave. I don't see what that has to do with payed for material. Microsoft has being doing this for years on the xbox 360 but I have never seen them sell gear or weapons for online games. Blizzard would never cross that line and even though they aren't the same company we knew and loved, they still have sense. I plan on leaving if Cataclysm is not worth it do to the fact the Lich king was a complete failure. For all of you who have just started, still like the game or are thinking about leaving, don't make this the reason why you leave. Blizzard maybe thinks that some people would like to OPTIONALLY support them and would like a free pet in return. Think of it as a donation not a scam. For all those who are whining about exclusive skins and pets, if you do not want to pay for it that is fine. Pick something that you earned in game and show it off, being proud that you didn't waste money.

For any Spelling mistakes I am sorry. I fail at typing :D
Vanity, but sparkly
# Apr 27 2010 at 1:31 PM Rating: Decent
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I sort of liked Rhenny's points. My toons looked at the sparkly mount and just sighed, but then my Pally pointed out that all my wife's toons would look SWEET riding the Celestial Steed. So I bought her one. Her little kick-butt toons do indeed look sweet, and we only need that one button for it. (Yeah, yeah, I have the macro for the riding/flying mount.)
She said she didn't want it, but she likes it, oh she does like it. It's worth $25 to see her smile every time she flies past me.
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Politicians of the Virtual world
# Apr 26 2010 at 5:46 PM Rating: Decent
I see a number of good points pro and con. I see a umber of people suggesting that the affects on game play are minimal. Some folks point out that the concepts undermine the entire game while others suggest the sales is a harbinger of behavior too capitolistic to be mentioned in mixed company.

To me I see one issue and one issue alone. This is not yer daddy's Blizzard.

When this game went from beta to live I was there. So were a number of GMs actually playing some of the bosses and putting us through the paces with challenging content. The excitement level was high and the feeling that you were immersed in a world rather than playing a game superceeded every other experience. I remember riding the Bat from Org to the crossroads the very first time. Sitting there listening to the music and watching the scenery go by I mused, "I woulda bought this game just to fly on this mount".

In those early days you got kicked from the game for foul language or trolling and don't even try to virtually bully people or yer gone. There was a sense that the sheriff was on the range. And through it all there was a common theme from blizzard. This game will NEVER be allowed to degenerate financially in the way that EQ did. If any means to make scads of gold ever arose then the devs at Blizz would quickly patch the game so that that money tree quickly felt the cold pangs of winter.

Now, however, it is quite different. Blizzard sees no problem behaving like our political leaders ...

"I never said that."
"I am sorry Senator, but I cannot recollect saying that."
"What does the word is actually mean in this context?"

So the essnce of it all is after all of the times they took away opportunities for players to make virtual cash and scolded them for being superficial it seems rather disingenuous (actually it is hypocritical). For them to sell ANYTHING other than server time and XPacks.

I suppose that the leaders at Blizz are human after all and so such lofty ideals as they once held true cannot be expected to last forever.
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Slightly OT, but in regards to mounts...
# Apr 26 2010 at 4:41 PM Rating: Good
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I have said this before (mainly because I was in the middle of finishing the 'lock Dreadsteed quest line when they made it available through trainers), and with the mount level changes, it's even more applicable now:

Revive the 'Lock and Pally level 60 mount quests and have the new rewards be a class-specific flying mount (usable in all realms the same way the Sparkly Flying Pony is of course). Grandfather in the folks that did these old-school quests, and make it so they get a "free" flying mount for the heck they went through.

Thoughts?
Overboard
# Apr 25 2010 at 4:38 PM Rating: Default
I can only vote with my money. This change is the last straw for me.

I am not happy with how "dumbed down" the game has become. There is no need for crowd control when doing 5 man instances. Cloth wearers are at an extreme disadvantage in all aspects of the game, not just PvP. Classes/talent builds that do not support AE or multiple target attacks are at an extreme disadvantage... the list goes on and on.

So with my money I vote no and /ragequit.
Overboard
# Apr 26 2010 at 10:17 PM Rating: Decent
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I have to agree. Back in January, I decided to take a break from the game. I planned on coming back for childrens week so I could finish off the stupid orphan in bg achievement to get my violet prota (I generally hate WSG and AB which is why I didn't finish that last year).
Now I'm thinking I won't bother. I honestly haven't missed the game, and on reflection I realise it's just not as much fun as it used to be. It seems as though everything in the game is merely a steppign stone to get everyone in to raids, but for me raiding was never the main focus of the game - it was merely one small aspect.
No-one does instances for fun anymore. They're now just a mad rush to get gear or emblems as a stepping stone to raiding.
No-one takes their time to enjoy levelling and questing any more, despite the repeated nerfing of the whole levelling process. In any case the level grinds have now been replaced by equally tedious achievement grinds. I think of the countless hours I wasted chasing a couple of stupid achievements - in some cases never getting them due to rotten luck with RNG.
As far as mounts go, I was proud to be one of the first on my server to get an albino drake. It meant something then. It took some effort. Now mounts, pets etc are a dime a dozen. Well they were until Blizz started putting a real price on them. There is less sense of community. Less sense of working for a reward since players have become so accustomed to having everything handed to them.
My guild didn't want to lose their GM but I don't think I'll be coming back. Neither will my wife and 2 kids who also played. Blizz are no doubt getting more and more customers who are happy with the dumbed down game and getting more money from the game, but they seem to be losing an awful lot of the original players who helped them build the game. I used to lament the number of old friends who were leaving the game and now I've joined them.
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It's a Mount, get over it
# Apr 25 2010 at 4:01 PM Rating: Decent
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It's just a mount, something you can ride, but still have to pay in game coin to learn how to. I've yet to see any of the other things you can buy, like the panda or the X thingy, but I do see a lot of the mounts.

Quote:
Considering how easy it is to get gold in WoW and then factor in how little mounts actually costs in the game... your argument is null.

The thing that does cost is the riding training... which you STILL HAVE TO buy even with the Celestial Horse.


Is about as stupid as it comes, ya it cost upwards of 6k gold to learn all the flying, but dropping 80-200 gold for a mount per character, you are saving that money to be used latter on.

Now for those worried about in game advantage, such as weapons or armor (wait don't they already do that with the Orange items), woopie doopie doo. If that **** you off because you didn't have the opportunity to "short" cut to a better item (and let's face it, you probably did in some small way or another), GET OVER IT.

I know none of my "Toons" will have UBER armor or weapons, because they drop in dungeons and instanced zones that I CAN"T SOLO in. I choose to play the game with out joining a guild, or grouping in anyway. I choose that because I have to deal with **** all day in my job and I don't want to deal with **** when I'm trying to play the game, which I play to forget about the **** I have to deal with daily.

Adapt, Evolve or Eliminate. Pick one, and quit whining about it. You won't be playing the game forever, some day something better will come along that will take up more of your gaming time, until then enjoy it, stop being cry babies, quit with the "I'm a better player than you" for what ever ego stimuli you get from it.

Enjoy the game....or go back to EQ.
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Not such a bad purchase...
# Apr 25 2010 at 2:53 PM Rating: Decent
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My two bob:

It may look a bit naff but $25 gets you a mount for all your toons on one account which, if you're like me and have over 25 toons, makes it well worth it. Another good thing about it is that you can ride it in Azeroth so you don't even need to buy a land mount.

Unfortunately, you get dismounted when you land in Dalaran and you still need to switch mounts when you leave there. That sucks. I was hoping you could just stay mounted on it as you rode up onto Krasus' Landing and just take off. That'd be sweet. Ah well!
What others have doesn't affect you
# Apr 23 2010 at 1:01 PM Rating: Good
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It's not a competition. If someone decides to pay real money for a mount or vanity pet, it doesn't affect you or me or anyone else one little bit. In fact, it's no different than those getting mounts/pets/items from trading cards that are also bought. I don't see people whining about that. Blizzard isn't about to sell actual gear for money, despite all the "OMG WUTS NEXT?????" whiners who feel cheated somehow, even though they have the exact same opportunity to buy the items as everyone else. Get over it.

Btw, the only thing I've purchased is a Pandaren Monk as a gift for my better half. I haven't decided on the mount yet . . . personally I don't think it looks all that great.

Edited, Apr 23rd 2010 2:04pm by CaptDuke
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padding blizz's pockets
# Apr 23 2010 at 6:07 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
its about time people stopped falling for these trifle little pets and mounts and quit adding to activision/blizzards pockets untill they get all the bugs out of this game. we pay good money to play this game start giving away some good freebies instead of gouging us for more money all the time im not bitter just fed up with always giving and not getting back in return for the support we give them unless of course u get to blizzcon which not many of us can bah humbug
padding blizz's pockets
# Apr 24 2010 at 8:40 AM Rating: Default
lol...only bugs I've come across is in ToC(5) where the faction leader event resets after the initial pull, which is why I always tell people to not blow any cool downs just incase it does reset.

The other is Tyronas jumping back on Rimefang after he lands, simple fix is to open up on him...even if you're dps and have the tank taunt off. Haven't had him bug since I started doing that.

PS:
lol@ CaptDuke

Quote:
Blizzard isn't about to sell actual gear for money, despite all the "OMG WUTS NEXT?????"


Kotick would like a word with you. If the net profit out-weighs the lose of players; Blizzard will sell gear for cash. Think of this as testing the waters.

Never underestimate Corporate Greed; it's been the death of many.
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padding blizz's pockets
# Apr 24 2010 at 11:48 AM Rating: Good
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Quote:
Kotick would like a word with you. If the net profit out-weighs the lose of players; Blizzard will sell gear for cash. Think of this as testing the waters.


Wrong. Anyone who thinks this obviously knows little about the gaming industry, or business in general when the business relies on customer subscriptions or memberships. And it would be loss of players, not "lose".
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padding blizz's pockets
# Apr 23 2010 at 12:10 PM Rating: Decent
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If Blizzard doesn't make money, they don't make the game. It's that simple. They aren't in business to see that you are entertained. They are in business to make money. How are they "gouging" you for more money, when the stuff in the store is bought voluntarily? Fifteen bucks a month (or less, depending on your subscription rate) is pretty cheap entertainment for something you can utilize 24/7 outside of maintenance times. Been to the movies lately?
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PETITION!
# Apr 23 2010 at 5:42 AM Rating: Decent
Celestial Kodo and Celestial Protodrake, make those and you got me for 50...hell even 100 bucks (EACH!).

But, god that XT is annoying as hell...all people do all day and summone other mechanical pets to get XT(s) to destroy them and thus ramble on about it not **** that way...or throwing tantrums (when the trains are deployed).

If they keep doing **** like that they better put Non-combat Pets and whatever the **** you consider the train sets on a seperate sound channel that we can mute with out having to mute ALL of the other sounds.

Oh and...

<inb4legendaries4sale>
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Too good for ingame!
# Apr 23 2010 at 2:22 AM Rating: Good
My question is will we ever see great pets ingame again? Will we see pets that make fun sounds, have clickable actions etc ever or are they going to instantly get whisked away to the 10$ per store? I'm an avid pet collecter, but I _refuse_ to spend real money on it, and if the only thing the game is going to get anymore is the ones they don't think they can make 10$ off of, that's very disappointing to me.

If they start charging something like 10$ for new demon skin textures, that's something that if they hadn't, you'd get as a feature in an update which you're already paying for with your monthly subscription.

Do you really want the game to change so the monthly *only* covers mechanic and stat stuff and for any nice looking thing, they no longer do it to keep the game good and fun, but instead you get to pay extra? Even though you're already paying monthly?

Edited, Apr 23rd 2010 1:30am by digitalcraft
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Too good for ingame!
# Apr 23 2010 at 10:33 AM Rating: Decent
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I too did not think of that. But then again, if this DOES happen I'm sure that I'm going to cut my WoW subscription. As it is I'm getting very tired of the rollercoaster nerf and buff (Always in extremes) and the complete dumb-down of content. Leveling is so mindlessly boring. Not because it takes so long, but because its so freakin' mindless. There are only a few places in the game where questing takes any kind of thought (for anyone other than a new player). Anyway, that's for another thread.

If Blizzard stops producing quality, "free" content and leaves the best for the store I'm out.
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Too good for ingame!
# Apr 23 2010 at 8:20 AM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:
My question is will we ever see great pets ingame again? Will we see pets that make fun sounds, have clickable actions etc ever or are they going to instantly get whisked away to the 10$ per store? I'm an avid pet collecter, but I _refuse_ to spend real money on it, and if the only thing the game is going to get anymore is the ones they don't think they can make 10$ off of, that's very disappointing to me.

That's actually a really, really good point. I wish I would have thought of that to include in the editorial. It raises an important question; will all (or most) of the really cool mounts and pets only be offered in the Blizzard Store now?

Quote:
If they start charging something like 10$ for new demon skin textures, that's something that if they hadn't, you'd get as a feature in an update which you're already paying for with your monthly subscription.

That's exactly why I used that as an example; will new features that would have normally been added to the game for free go into the store instead? For example, if the Blizzard opened the store a year ago, would those new Druid form skins have been sold in the store, instead of being added for free in the patch?
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Needs to be significantly cheaper at least
# Apr 22 2010 at 12:03 PM Rating: Default
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I feel a bit stupid now for having purchased the Celestial Steed, but in the long run, it's a free mount I don't have to buy for any of my up and coming alts. When they cost upwards of 90-200 or more gold for the flying variety, I think I'd rather have the horse. At least, until that alt gets hold of a dropped mount, like the Bronze Drake or the Blue Proto-Drake.

Mostly I just feel stupid for having paid $25 for the **** thing. All Blizzard did was change the color pallet on the Invincible Mount, add a shooting-star particle effect and make it glow white/blue. Really, that could've probably taken....a few hours? They really got me with the impulse shopping, and that's the last time I fall for it. If the next thing they sell is anything more than $10 and isn't 100% original, I won't touch it.

I'd pay 99 cents (like a song from the iTunes store) for custom colors on my warlock's minions. I'd pay $1.99 for a full new graphic for those same minions (like, say, the blueberry can look like the armored versions even if it doesn't actually have any stat increases to armor, or my felguard can trade in the big axe for a big sword instead.) There are so many varieties of each of the warlock pets, it's amazing we've been pigeon-holed into only using one. Though, granted, I always had hope that Blizzard would just implement some system in the game itself where your pet changes its appearance based on your level or something. Call it the Pokemon effect. Shaaadum is evolving! Your felguard has become a felknight!

/lulz
hmm
# Apr 22 2010 at 11:47 AM Rating: Decent
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problem is the mount is really more then vanity. It saves players in game currency since they don't have to buy any mount if they lvl up a new toon. In fact doesn't this mount work on all of your toons? A person who makes alot of alts is saving gold therefore using it for something else.

It won't be long they will be just like Sony and selling Double EXp potions, respecs, etc.
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hmm
# Apr 22 2010 at 12:37 PM Rating: Decent
fronglo wrote:
problem is the mount is really more then vanity. It saves players in game currency since they don't have to buy any mount if they lvl up a new toon. In fact doesn't this mount work on all of your toons? A person who makes alot of alts is saving gold therefore using it for something else.

It won't be long they will be just like Sony and selling Double EXp potions, respecs, etc.


Considering how easy it is to get gold in WoW and then factor in how little mounts actually costs in the game... your argument is null.

The thing that does cost is the riding training... which you STILL HAVE TO buy even with the Celestial Horse.

Gear for sale
# Apr 22 2010 at 10:04 AM Rating: Decent
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There are three types of players, PVP, Raider and Quester. For some reason I do not like PVP. Due to my physical limitations I am only able to play for short periods of time so I can't Raid. That leaves me questing.
I would buy gear from the Blizzard store because I have no other way of getting it. I do not buy the gear which is available from the gold farmers as this ruins the game. I have written may times to Blizzard, and in posts, that there should be a way for Questers to get equivalent gear to PVP'ers and Raiders but it all falls on deaf ears. I don't care how long the quests take. As long as each step in about 30 mins, then I can achieve anything and thats all I want.
So stop whining about how lazy other people are and wear your gear with pride knowing what it is you achieved to get it. Help us get a way to get good gear so we can wear it with pride. Until then I will buy it from Blizzard if it is available.
Gear for sale
# Apr 27 2010 at 3:43 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
here are three types of players, PVP, Raider and Quester. For some reason I do not like PVP. Due to my physical limitations I am only able to play for short periods of time so I can't Raid. That leaves me questing.


Then you're the kind of player that's been seriously shafted in the last year or so. I'd probably consider myself a quester too. I don't mind a big of pvp but only in some areas. I raid a bit but could never raid several nights a week, chasing hard modes etc.
PVP and Raiding is where bliz focus most of their effort these days and questing is generally regarded as an inconvenient step to make the other two possible. That results in questing being repeatedly nerfed and dumbed down to the point that there's very little enjoyment any more. It's assumed that every player wants to raid so the levelling process is rushed along to falicilate that, allowing would be raiders to level with as little time and effort (and fun IMO) as possible. Hence my decision to move on from wow.
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asdf
# Apr 22 2010 at 9:34 AM Rating: Decent
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The issue here is greater than simply the pet store. The whole 3 releases to encompass what is in reality one game (SCII) is a greater offense in my opinion, and it comes down to the profits and stocks and the whole selling out of the industry in general. Original Blizzard (i.e. not Activision-Blizzard) would not have done any of this in my opinion. Once they sold out to activision, alot of people speculated that this was the begining of the end and I think that is finally becoming evident after a few years. Dont get me wrong. I think blizzard will continue to put out fun and entertaining products. They are just going to charge a premium for them so they can milk it. That is thier CEO's agenda afterall. They will also let money and profits guide their decision making at the expense of the gamer. The whole Modern Warfare II lack of dedicated servers thing comes to mind here, especially since we are talking about the same company.
Sparkly!
# Apr 21 2010 at 9:37 PM Rating: Good
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I will admit to having bought the mount. But as other said, I don't see it as something special or even something that my main character uses.
I bought it because I thought it looks nice and it fits to the personae of 3 of my characters.
One is a sparkly blood elf Paladin, and if he would receive the "you're gay!" comments he would tell them, that yes, indeed, he IS. Actually he bats for both teams, but prefers the sparkly one.
The other character is his sister who is a Death knight. The cold winter night theme of the mount fits her pale grey hair and other stuff. Also I am still convinced that whatever foul methods were used to ressurrect/turn her into a death knight were not 100% successful on her mental faculties.
The third is a human priest who will see it as a message from the light to continue his fight against the foul aberrations of the horde.

My main is a troll warrior who told me he is not a "blood elf paladin" and that he refuses to ride sparkly.
The tauren druid just laughed and told me she rather flies herself, and that her well shaped behind would just break the back of the flimsy thing.
And my orc hunter just stared at me, shook his head and muttered "moron".
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# Apr 21 2010 at 8:51 PM Rating: Excellent
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I don't care and honestly I'm not all that concerned about it. Selling anything more than vanity items would cause a **** storm that I don't think Blizzard is willing to deal with.

I know the minute that real money gives someone an advantage over me in WoW, its the minute I'm going to another game. I have no problems with people getting shiny special things with their money. If it floats their boat okay. I don't have the money for it, but that's my problem. They can do whatever they want with their money.

The Celestial Mount effects me in no way. What is annoying however is the few brats who are treating the mount like some great achievement. Then again people will ALWAYS find a reason to make themselves superior than other people.
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# Apr 27 2010 at 3:50 AM Rating: Good
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What is annoying however is the few brats who are treating the mount like some great achievement.


In a sense it is. My wife was always a keen collector of pets. According to wow pets she was the #1 pet collector on our server for a while. She was the first person I knew of to get the skunk and deer pets with their associated achievements. That was her thing.
She spent a big chunk of her game time grinding, questing and doing whatever it took to get the most pets possible. When people started getting pets from wow authenticator, blizz store etc she gave up. She wasn't willing to pay for every new pet that came out just to maintain her spot as #1 pet collector on our server. Her achievement is no longer reliant on in game play.
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Jealousy and segregation?
# Apr 21 2010 at 8:47 PM Rating: Good
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Is it right, though? Do exclusive items like these foster jealousy and segregation between players, as we asked in our previous editorial? Proponents of micro-transactions claim that no one is forcing you to buy anything, and as long as Blizzard only sells "vanity" items that don't affect gameplay, there's no harm in it


I thought this was an interesting question and point.

Is it right? I think it is on a business stand-point for sure. If Blizzard comes out with more mounts (as I'm sure they will), then obviously they certainly feel it's right. As I said in one of my posts: If Blizzard selling vanity items for cash and that cash helps them create better material - and keeps my subscription at $14.99 a month - then it's good for me as a customer.

Jealousy: I've seen this in trade and general chat since the mount was introduced. For some players, there is some kind of weird nerd rage jealousy and/or disgust at people that have the mounts. I've read some pretty harsh comments at mount owners or about the mount itself and I tend to wonder what is the motivation behind the comments. Most are just idiots spewing ignorance for the sake of being ignorant, others, I think are jealous; some hateful jealous. I'm willing to bet some of those players that say: "You're (your /rolleyes) **** if you own my little pony", would use it in a heartbeat if someone gifted it to them. I think for some people that cannot afford it, or having parents that won't buy it for them, there will be jealousy indeed. And because of the security of the internet, they will tend to be more hateful or ignorant with that jealousy because they don't have to worry about getting knocked down a megabyte or two.

Segregation: I haven't seen a "Steed Only Club" yet, or someone saying "No steed owners allowed", so I don't think this is a problem. It's the flavor-of-the-day anyway, in three weeks (which is forever for many WoW players), it will be just another mount.

It's actually a funny thought seeing a guild that only allowed steed owners, and the guild walking through Orgrimmar 20 strong, showing off their great steedfullness.

I will say though that if I'm in a rare BG fight, I'm going straight at the people riding that thing! It's a beacon of light that is saying: "Please kill me now!"
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Skins
# Apr 21 2010 at 8:24 PM Rating: Excellent
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Waxpaper wrote:
Really? One of my characters is a Warlock, and I'd go apesh*t if they introduced demon skins in the Blizzard Store. I used that as an extreme example, because it's something that Warlocks have wanted for years (just like green Fel Fire).
...
Now, a demon mount for my Warlock, or even better, demon-winged flight form? That I'd pay $25 for...might even spend $50 for the latter. But that's kinda my point; the line gets fuzzy when it comes to items or features like that, and it also has a lot to do with personal preference, since we all get enjoyment out of different aspects of the game.


The way I see it though, if they added new demon skins that were purchasable at the store (which I kinda doubt would happen because as you say its an extreme example) though it may adversely affect your blood pressure, at least it wouldn't affect gameplay. Your example of a Warlock flying form would affect gameplay imo, especially if it was a zero cast time like druid. Something like that would have to be implemented ingame for ingame money, or a quest reward to make it fair in my opinion.
My analogy is a new skin for something existing game already would be a custom paint job for your Honda Civic, whereas a flying form would be replacing your Civic with an high preformance Ferrari.
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Options
# Apr 21 2010 at 8:08 PM Rating: Decent
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Most of my characters are based on characters i've played in Dungeons and Dragons, so they have more to them than just being a "toon". However, i don't play on an RP server (mostly), i play on a PVP server. But i'd still like the aspect of certain customablity even if it's not a strong trend on my realm. That being said i was so close to swooping on that Celestial Steed because it's what my character has in D&D. But it's a bit too expensive for me. I welcome blizz bringing in vanity changes, i do hate playing my fire mage while wearing blue robes. I really would like options like these to be available to anyone. If you look at Dungeons and Dragons Online and Runes of Magic, they both have item stores but the currency can be earned in-game. Granted it takes a lot of farming. Why not let blizz store items be earnable? Give us a drop item that starts an epic long chain to obtain it. Maybe not Frostmourne status, but enough that those who really want it can earn it, and those that just want to have the trend can buy it.
Effort in
# Apr 21 2010 at 7:08 PM Rating: Good
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Well look at it in a different light.

Farming Mr Pinchy, or the Turtle mount out of Northrend. It's long and repetitive and completely RNG. But the moment you get it is epic. I think in your most bored and frustrated moment of farming we'd all go "I'd pay $$ for this".

At the same time the moments where it finally drops off all that hard work is what are defining moments that players will relate via story over and over again.


Hopefully it never got to the point of "buy a skin" or "20$ for epic flying skill" but I think back of the mind it's there. Also as mentioned even if it is just vanity pets or mounts, though if they make money off it you better believe they will find new avenues to go down, its just a cash grab.
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Effort in
# Apr 21 2010 at 7:57 PM Rating: Excellent
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Well, to clarify, I didn't mean paying real money for a higher riding skill, I meant unique flight forms, like new Druid polymorph flying skins or a Warlock "demon-winged flight" skin. Buying a faster riding skill would constitute a "gameplay-altering" item, which Blizzard said they will never sell.
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A little thing to think about
# Apr 21 2010 at 6:52 PM Rating: Decent
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DDO switched to the "Free" mmo model with some success. Did it ever occur to anyone that Blizzard is testing the water for their own "Free" mmo model? You know they could even keep it vanity and still make a whack ton of money.
When it comes down to it I pay $15 a month. I have a friend who plays a "free" mmo and he spends usually between 20-50 bucks a month on it. He doesn't have to and most people do. But this is why the "free" model is so successful.
As WoW is the best mmo at the moment, would it not be in their interest to switch to the "free" model? How many millions of players no longer play but would if they didn't have to pay for it? How many of those would buy a mount?
This is just a theory but DDO went from bottom of the barrel to holding their own by switching to "free". Perhaps WoW could cement full dominance of the mmo industry for a decade or more with the switch.
Just something to think about.

(I use "free" because they aren't actually free. Though they cost no money to play those with money get a distinct advantage. Thus it is free to log in and play but those with money waste your time by kicking you to the curb easily for spending money. Time = money.)
A little thing to think about
# Apr 21 2010 at 8:05 PM Rating: Excellent
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As long as Kotick is running the show, I'd bet almost anything that WoW won't turn free-to-play until years down the road, if at all, and only if Blizzard reached the point where micro-transactions will generate more revenue than 5.5 million monthly subscription fees. Hell, isn't Mythic still charging monthly fees for Dark Age of Camelot? Considering WoW is the most popular MMO of all time, I have a really hard time imagining a scenario that earns Blizzard more money from micro-transactions than subscription fees. But I see what you're saying. A lot of upcoming MMOs are considering the free-to-play model these days, when 2 or 3 years back in their early development, their publishers never would have dreamed of it. Black Prophecy is a good example.
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skins, etc
# Apr 21 2010 at 6:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:
NeoJaecin: In the hypothetical example of the Warlock's demon, as long as it was just a reskin of an existing minion and didn't not add any new abilties, however if they were to provide a new pet with new abilites then yes I would have a problem as it could put those that choose not to purchase items from the store at a disadvantage.

Really? One of my characters is a Warlock, and I'd go **** if they introduced demon skins in the Blizzard Store. I used that as an extreme example, because it's something that Warlocks have wanted for years (just like green Fel Fire). You can think of Druid skins the same way, except Blizz already gave them new skins. Anyway, while I doubt that any sort of "skins" will make their way into the store, it's just an analogy to something that doesn't affect gameplay, yet many players would deem it more inherently valuable than vanity pets, or mounts.

But at the same time, what's the incentive to buy unless the Blizzard Store items are uniquely cool? Personally, I wouldn't spend $10 for a pet, and it would take a lot more than a shimmering, star-studded pony to get me to spend 25 bucks for a mount. Now, a demon mount for my Warlock, or even better, demon-winged flight form? That I'd pay $25 for...might even spend $50 for the latter. But that's kinda my point; the line gets fuzzy when it comes to items or features like that, and it also has a lot to do with personal preference, since we all get enjoyment out of different aspects of the game. I used to work at a comic book store when I was younger, and I'll always remember a little hand-written sign that my boss kept in the back room; it read, "Remember, every comic is someone's favorite."
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Meh... is there REALLY a line to cross?
# Apr 21 2010 at 6:19 PM Rating: Good
$25 is a lot cheaper than what an average joe will pay on TCG card packs hoping to find a random mount card in one of the packs.

I see nothing wrong with selling non-game enhancing items.

When MMO companies start selling "potions" and "scrolls" for real monies that up the XP percent on kills and quests that is when things start getting blurry... Do I think it is fine? Yeah. It would probably even be cheaper doing that than dual-boxing.

When MMO companies start selling gear for real cash money is when it crosees the line. Do I see a problem in it? Yeah. Will it really bother me? Probably not, because I am not worried about what someone else does. Blizzard could sell gear and if the player tried to use said gear in a BG then they would start the BG naked and unable to re-equip anything.

The game is about fun, but it is mainly about me and how I want to play at any given time... I have no time worrying about what others are doing.
Money
# Apr 21 2010 at 5:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's got its ups and downs.

Vanity mounts were going for insane amounts on ebay via trading cards and opened up an avenue for scamming even if it was minimal. This provides that service and blizzard is the one making the money.


But at the same time it creeps into that kind of shameless money grab zone that is a turn off.

/meh
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Vanity but not essential.
# Apr 21 2010 at 4:54 PM Rating: Good
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I don't think the price for the mount was too high when you consider how many, and how quickly, they managed to sell. It seems they found a pretty sweet spot in the supply and demand curves. At todays prices you could spend $25 on a movie ticket and a trip to the concession stand for a single person, and walk out without anything tangible but still completely satisfied with your purchase, provided it was a movie you enjoyed. And considering the high number of sales I don't think it could be considered a mishap either.
As long as Blizz sticks to non-essential and vanity items, I don't have a problem. In the hypothetical example of the Warlock's demon, as long as it was just a reskin of an existing minion and didn't not add any new abilties, however if they were to provide a new pet with new abilites then yes I would have a problem as it could put those that choose not to purchase items from the store at a disadvantage.
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Vanity but not essential.
# Apr 21 2010 at 5:21 PM Rating: Decent
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I'm with Neo. As long as it's just non-essential and vanity items I don't care. As a matter of fact I'm waiting to buy one myself. Cool looking mount. But MTG had their pre-release for Eldrazi last weekend and the release party this weekend. I'm broke! LOL!
Way to go Blizz. Maybe you could kick back some of that profit to your players? Lower the monthy bill for WoW (yeah, right!).
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