Blizzard’s microtransactions are smart and good for the game

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Update: Blizzard has now stated that there is no limit on the number that can be purchased.

This afternoon Blizzard released two new items to their store: The Celestial Steed ($25) and Lil’ XT ($10).  The Celestial Steed is the first mount to be sold by Blizzard in their store and I think it raises a few good points to make.  First, it’s a microtransaction (or macrotransaction given the price).  However, it’s not the bad kind.  This mount scales based on your character’s mount capabilities ranging from the normal speed mount all the way up to the epic mount and beyond to even the 310%.  Having played WoW fresh on a brand new character without a dime to my name, the ability for me to make money and achieve these mounts came with ease.  I’ve had so much money while leveling up that I’ve never once wanted for anything.  I did nothing special, so I know that anyone can replicate my results.

Essentially the horse is a cosmetic item.  You can easily obtain a mount, but if you want it to look like a sparkling pony then you’re going to have the pay for it.  I think that this is a perfect example of good microtransactions.  There is nothing about this mount that would make anyone feel like they’re being jipped out of something or being restricted from having something that should be available out of the stock game.  Selling ‘cool’ things like this should be the model for all MT games.

Blizzard’s approach is really quite ingenious.  They already have a working sub model that brings in ~$15 a month.  Now they’ve added ‘cool’ stuff to their store — not just cool, but high quality — and placed price tags on them that will generate insane amounts of money.   This has to be the best way to make money.  They’re being paid by everyone playing and everyone also wants to pay them for cool stuff.  On top of all of that, they’re artificially creating a shortage by stating there is a certain number available in stock.  Now people are rushing like crazy to the store.

Have doubts about what I just said?

Dalaran is flooded with people riding them.  The percentage of stock left is being constantly announced in trade chat on my server and the whole server is abuzz.  Players are excited and motivated about a sparkly horse!   Meanwhile, Blizzard sits back and gets rich.  I think it’s brilliant.

I would definitely use this model in my MMO.  I think selling high quality ‘cool’ cosmetic items and creating rarity and excitement can only help a game.

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  • No, I won’t pay it. I like my dragon mount that I could get in-game for free from a drop that drops every time. I’ll wait for a cooler mount that isn’t a sparkly horse if I’m going to pay real money.

    All the whining out there makes no sense. Both of those blogs are complaining about the cost and saying “when will it stop?!” … but they’ve done nothing to address how it actually affects the game.

    It’s not epic gear people. It’s a vanity epeen item. If that bothers you, then you have epeen issues.

    Stop crying.

  • And they’re doing that to all their games. Starcraft 2 will feature premium map sales!Some people say it sucks, but myself as a map maker will love that extra incentive, even tough I know none of my maps will ever reach that category

  • No surprise. This has been inevitable ever since they opened the store with that charity event. The real story here is how well Blizzard handled the opening of this store and introducing these items that the playerbase reaction is overwhelmingly positive.

  • I’m so torn on transactions like this. Part of me knows that it has no impact on the gameplay and there is no advantage being given, it is simply an added revenue source … the other part of me considers it just another way to sell out and providing on-demand satisfaction in lieu of in-game merit, especially when considering the game is subscription based.

    P2P games have the right to nickel and dime you for things like this because it is how they pay for the game’s existence… for subscription based games this is nothing but pure greed. If there was a noticeable increase & improvement in the games production, patch process, server performance and content updates then I could go along with it as funding a better game, but I don’t see it.

  • @ Mahlah

    I agree, the performance of their PR has been phenomenal. They started with the obvious and necessary transactions like server transfers & such … slowly getting players accustomed to the micro-transaction model with things that were good for the game … then after a year or so of desensitization to their presence, they take their micro-transactions into the virtual goods business.

    Beware though, the micro-transaction model is like the VAT to governments… it is extremely addictive and once they start seeing the absurd amount of revenue they find they can generate with little to no development or resources, the bigwigs might get hooked and that’s when you can say goodbye to achievements and progression value.

  • @Luthion: Depending on how the premium map sales are handled, it could be just like this and be a good thing for the game and the players or it could be a total kick in the jimmies.

    @Qpon: WoW offers enough free updates to the game in so many forms that the players are more than getting their money’s worth. To charge for vanity items like this is fine by me as it has zero impact on the gameplay and only affects the look and vanity of the player.

    What the future holds is unknown. Blizzard could say “We payed the salaries of our entire company in one day by selling sparkling horses. Let’s do more!!” … but they’ve been making gazillions of dollars for the past 6 years and so far have remained the epitome of what a subscription model game should be for their players.

  • The funny thing is that people rush to buy these kinds of things because of the uniqueness, but the uniqueness will quickly wear out.

    Harmless, IMO. But, I’d never buy an item like that. 😛

  • I didn’t know about the shortage thing until now.

    That disappoints me. That’s ethically shady.

    They’ve whined w/o saying how it affects the game? Why does it matter? It’s 25 freakin’ dollars! It doesn’t have to affect the game.

    “zero” impact on game play. Every f2p game I ever played, the cash shop had zero impact on my game play. It’s the vast minority of Western players who aren’t happy and that is only because of their mindset. Allods is still going strong from the biggest and fastest growing business model in the US and the world within MMORPGs. And that is because players demand it. The vast majority of players demand it.

    I’m not mad just wound up(not the same I assure you).

    25 dollars is not micro or macro, it’s a lot of money. Regardless of game impact, regardless of fluff or content or buffs or anything, regardless of what that item is, it is way too far out of bounds of micro(or macro) transactions and it creates a definite divide based not on anything inside of the game, but by a persons socio-economic status. Of the players who will want that, not all will be able to get it, and that’s not right.

    Really though what is bothering me is this sale-out. That’s ridiculous practices for any business.

    All I have to say is I know millions will wait and pay, and that’s fine, but that’s Americans for you. We are bred on this generation of instant gratification, and Blizzard is milking that for all it’s worth.

    Please, I don’t direct hatred or any negative feelings toward any person, so I’m not trying to fight, just expressing my wound-up feelings about the situation.

  • Isn’t it actually a bit more than vanity only too? I mean it’s the fastest mount right? Yes you have to do all the work in game, but then I thought I understood it to mean, after you do all the in-game work, then this mount will be even faster, so it is giving you a slight in-game advantage, albeit not combat related.

    But technically it is the fastest mount possible in the game, right?

  • @Jeremy S.: No, it’s not the fastest mount. It scales to the speed of mounts your character is able to use. If you can use a 100% speed mount then this moves at 100%. If you can use a 310% speed mount then it moves at 310.

    Ethically shady… I can see how you may think that. However, is it ethically shady to create rarity with trading cards by only printing a limited number?

    @Kemp: I fail at spelling and grammar all the time. Jipped actually passes my spell check though as another way of spelling gypped. Either way, I hope my inability to spell has not ruined your day. I regret the error.

  • Wow, this is kinda sad and depressing. It is one thing when the items are cheap, but to charge that much for something just seems greedy and arrogant. when the big-time rich developers start doing stuff like this on top of the montly sub fee, just watch all the smaller developers jump on the idea. Just wait for the day when the $15 montly sub fee no longer sees any free content updates and finds us paying monthly just to pay more for any content. I don’t see this as good for the MMO industry in the long run…not for P2P games anyhow.

  • I don’t have any problem with cosmetic purchases. If it helps for others to enjoy the game then 25 bucks isn’t that bad. Especially since it’s for your account.

  • Personally, I think this is ridiculous and a sign of Activision’s influence. $25 for a vanity mount is insane. Actually playing the game for a month costs less than that!

    Microtransactions set a bad precedent. As companies see how willing gamers are to pay ridiculous amounts of real-world cash for stupid crap, we’ll see more and more content locked behind stupid microtransaction stores. I’m getting tired of seeing so much cool content restricted to trading card games, collector’s editions, and, now, mount and pet stores. I want this content obtainable in-game as a reward for difficult achievements. On top of that, the fact anyone can buy it makes it no longer unique, and no doubt, there are tons of gullible people flying around Dalaran on horses right now on my server.

    This case is particularly bad because of the extremely high price. They’re not making ENOUGH money? $25 for a mount? $10 for a vanity pet? Geez.

    $30 and up, here we come.

  • I see where you’re going, but I feel differently.

    I feel it’s like a shoe company. I read a book that had such a scenario in it. The shoe company falsely pumped up the limited stock of there shoes in different locations which created rioting, and in the scenario’s moralistic/ethical case in point, showed how it fed off the advertising schemes.

    With cards, it’s random in packs that aren’t themselves being purposefully limited(I presume for this point).

    I do think they are saying they are limiting the virtual items to keep the servers from crashing though. Which on one hand I can understand(It “makes sense”) but I think they are using that to their advantage. I’m sure they can handle the load, or parse it out amongst other servers just as easily as the route they chose(but I think they chose this route for the commercial benefits). Still that is a lot of conjecture and I really don’t know. It’s just how I feel about it.

  • @Keen:

    “WoW offers enough free updates to the game in so many forms that the players are more than getting their money’s worth. To charge for vanity items like this is fine by me as it has zero impact on the gameplay and only affects the look and vanity of the player.”

    Here’s an example of how this affects the rest of the playerbase. Ghostcrawler has said that his design team doesn’t want to spend time on new druid forms because that would take away from, say, a unique raid boss model or other important content. Yet, his design team has time for a stupid $25 flying horse? How absurd does that sound?

  • It’s pretty crazy and $25 for amount is a lot of money although I can see the attraction. The crazy thing is just how much money Blizzard are making from it all. If they are really selling 80,000 copies then that’s an easy $2million in their pocket…

  • Blizzard can quite honestly charge any price for anything, and people will trample over each other trying to buy it. i dont think I’m going out on a limb much when I predict that Blizzard’s next MMO might be the one to break the $15 a month trend. Dont be surprised to see $19.99 a month for the next MMO.

  • Yes it is far to exspensive for what it is, but your not forced to by it.

    Everyone complaining saying ‘when will it stop’ its just like everything else ingame and out, if people buy it then other people will sell it, and people are definatly willing to buy it. Why is that such a problem for you?

    The reason this addition is a good thing is because the only advantage you get from it ingame is saving a few gold.
    If it gave any other bonus’ then id agree its bad, but its no better than anyone can get ingame so its good.

  • “I would definitely use this model in my MMO.”

    Do you think this model could work in an MMO that wasn’t already the overwhelming market leader, though?

    Most games could easily have a designer and a modeller hard at work for a couple of weeks on something like this, and in the end, not sell enough to pay their salaries.

  • I’m torn.

    Face value it isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t effect anything in game. It doesn’t make the game easier or harder by having/not having it. The MMO community has remained creditable with regards to Micro Transaction MMOs because the long stance has been that if it isn’t game breaking it will be accepted. So as it stands, I have no problem with this even if you compare that $25 to games on Steam. BTW it’s my $25 and if I don’t already own any of those games listed it is because I don’t want them, so even at FREE I wouldn’t down load them.

    My issue is that mentality that Blizzard is heading. They don’t have enough time to change the druid forms but they will create a mount? I’m not a graphic programmer here but it seems like changing the Druid form graphic can’t be much harder then creating this mount.

    Blizzard/Activision has been under scruntiny over micro transactions and over charging customers since Activision has taken a “stronger” role in Blizzard’s business model. I think this is probably a step they didn’t need to take.

    However considering both those things… people that already don’t like WoW/Activision will hate this idea. People that like WoW wont care. So it doesn’t matter.

  • @Pitrelli:

    How are we overreacting? It’s obvious what’s going on here. Blizzard started with the two vanity pets whose proceeds went to charity as a way of testing the waters. Any negative feedback could be met with, “It’s for charity.” Now, after players got used to the idea, they’re going forward with $25 mounts that should be in the game for free. It’s just going to get worse.

    Each bit of microtransaction content is that much less content in a game that’s already stale and homogenous. Sorry, druids, you don’t get a new flight form because a $25 horse was important.

  • I think that the number available is just an arbitrary number required by their online store system, that it doesn’t have a way to set an item as being “unlimited”. Show me an official blue post that says the item is ACTUALLY limited availability and I will believe you.

    I don’t see this as being “Blizzard trying to make even more money from its players,” I see it as “their artists worked really hard making a high quality mount, and they can justify spending so many man-hours on a single item if they can get back a lot of money from it.” They could just as easily have made it a stupidly rare drop from a stupidly difficult hard mode raid fight (or Arena ranking) that only people with no lives could ever get. That would make me sad, because then I’d never be able to have one.

    I don’t see why people are making such a big deal about this. I also don’t understand what the number of people who have one has to do with how awesome its graphics are.

  • If you have a problem with it, vote with your money and don’t get it.

    If you feel too many people will get it besides you to justify them raising prices, well, so what? Isn’t it their right to price things however they want? They are going to become a luxury good? Well tht’s their choice, stop paying them entirely.

    This is like complaining that Aston Martins cost too much! It’s absolutely silly.

  • @ Preston

    Dry those eyes chief.

    Come on man be serious do you really think that they will be taking away the main devs to work on vanity items?

    If it really proves successful they can start up a different team, hell perhaps by what your saying the ‘A Team’ havent been working on a different MMO all along they have infact been *insert drum roll here* designing vanity pets.

  • yeah like we need to buy a game, pay monthly fees and then spend extra money ever time they bring out stuff. why dont they lock all dungeons and charge a fee to enter, 1 dollar to go to naxx ;P im sure everyone will be overjoyed and love blizzard (and everyone else because everyone will do the same thing) for it

  • and your fools to think this is okay because its just side items. Its like a addiction. They start off small. You node and smile thinking “hey this is cool and fine by me” but they keep taking more and more away tell your left with a chat system and price signs on everything and everyone even the privilege to chat with someone. Its about pure profit they dotn give a damn about making the game better. If you beleaved that you would work at your job for no pay and just for the privilege of being able to slave away for someone else

  • just so I can afford a really expensive mount of course….. and access to future raids which Im told they will charge for. Haha thanks made my day so it has 🙂

  • You realize that amount of time spent vs money paid you are still getting a large of amount of gaming for what you spend.

    Sure I’m like everyone, I don’t want to spend more money… but!

    MMOs have only gone up $5 in 10 years, since EQ started out as 9.99. Most Single player games charge for their content. Remeber when Oblivion had pay for content? People were outraged because they didn’t want to pay extra for single player stuff. Now it’s the standard. No matter what you do prices are going to eventually go up.

    I would fully expect the next generation of MMOs to jump to the 19.99 price range and offer these kinds of micro transactions regularly. This is one of those things where I think people fear what this is leading to rather than what is actually happening now.

  • *flames post badly*
    I dont really care, I won’t spend money on it, but as long as it doesn’t effect my game play when someone else spends more than me, I could care less.

    Now when they start selling trinkets and stuff, then i will probably rage quit.

  • @Carson: You touch upon a very important point. Would any other game that doesn’t already enjoy major success do well with this model? Probably not as well as Blizzard does (they’ve made something like $2,000,000 on the horses already) but I can’t see how sticking to a non-impactful MT system can hurt a game, so long as it truly is just a vanity cosmetic model.

  • What this shows that Blizzard knows and the customers agree that $15 per month is way too cheap. People are willing to spend a lot more on their favorite past time.

  • Is this a mount that is already available in the game?

    The only things that bothers me about these micro-transactions is that I would rather earn it in game, especially if I subscribe.

    I think of mounts more as trophies… where is the fun in buying one from a trophy store?

  • But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.” With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort “We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort.”

  • @ Elipsa

    That is insane, literally insane. That’s beyond slippery slope. They aren’t taking anything away and it isn’t an addiction. I approve of it because I am not going to buy one as it doesn’t affect me in any way, shape, or form, and if I wanted one I would buy it and not complain. What the heck does this have to do with taking away of features whatsoever?

    You cant start that nonsense until they actually force you to pay more for something already in the game. This mount, again, isn’t forced on anyone. I don’t want it, I won’t get it. They could add the coolest most desirable mount in the entire game in for cash and I STILL wouldn’t buy it or find them wrong in selling it (Again, assuming it offers no mechnical advantages, is just flavor).

    What is your problem?

  • Sad to you supporting this Keen. This looks like Acti-Blizz probing to me, see how far they can push this, the $100 Armani war bear is on it’s way, followed by heirlooms and BOA epics, until they can eventually go Allod style on Azeroth.

    Adult players I don’t care about, but my concern would be for Parents of young players who are being pressured into buying this crap so they can keep up with their friends.

  • You people railing against this amaze me. What do you think the whole point of a for-profit corporation is? That’s right, to make money!

    The facts are that there is obviously a huge market for these vanity items and people are willing to pay significant cash for them. Any business person or entity who does not exploit that to the maximum extent possible within the law, as well as considering particular circumstances of the market they are in, would be a fool and likely won’t be in business for very long. There are strategic considerations of course that might dictate otherwise, but generally speaking this is what any smart entity would do under the circumstances.

    I personally have no interest in these items and have never bought one and likely never will. From my point of view, if it doesn’t effect gameplay more power to them. More revenue for Blizzard means more developers, better servers, better content, quicker updates, fewer bugs, etc., etc., which is good for me. From their point of view, if people are willing to pay for something and it does not have a detrimental impact on their business model otherwise, it would be stupid not to sell it to them.

  • These items are obviously not overpriced. People are buying them. The value of anything is based on what people will pay for it. The items are worthless to me.

  • @Werit: This is a mount they just came up with out of left field. It’s a pony that looks like a constellation with wings and barding. Looks nice. It offers nothing but its looks since you’re required to have already purchased in-game the knowledge of riding. In the end, the most this saves you is 85g (nothing).

    @Stompfoot: So what if the $100 armani war bear is on the way? That wouldn’t matter one bit. They could release the $10gazillion dollar mount for all I care and it changes nothing. Release armor and things that do impact the game and we’ll reevaluate. BIG DIFFERENCE.

  • Qpon said what i was thinking…

    they already sell the games for a high price,then they sell u a monthly subscription,but thats not enough for them greed takes over and they want u to buy “cool stuff” now.

    tho its good its just vanity items and not things that give u real advantage…i just dont like people that r alrdy on the verge of stealing(letting people pay way o much for a product,something i almost consider stealing :p)are not satisfied and want squeeze out some more moneyz

  • Yeah this isn’t good for anyone other than the greedy bastards at Activision, us gamers will be suffering from this for a long time because everyone will start doing it. I understand that it’s cosmetic and serves no purpose, but it won’t stop there and we all know it. Maybe Blizzard won’t go too far with it but how many mmo’s will be ruined because they try to cash in on this strategy with other items.

    And to those that find it amusing at us talking about what if’s, virtually EVERYONE copies what this company does anymore. It’s not a what if, it’s more just a matter of how long until. If you want to bury your head in the sand about the implications of how successful blizzard’s cash shop is going to end up being more power to you.

    I am sad to see the way you are reacting Keen, this one item in a vacuum is not a big deal yes, but this is not a vacuum and you know where this road will go.

  • @tovertrut

    How are these games already over priced? WoW is cheap and it’s expansions are comparable to other games. Everyone is acting like we are already paying an arm and a leg for these MMOs.

    I do somewhat agree with what Jeremy S posted in that status symbols are hugely important in WoW and this is one. I don’t think that is enough reason to break out the tar and feathers though.

    Look while I strongly disagree that this is somehow vile and overly greedy marketing (they are a company out to make a profit after all) I will disagree with Keen that this is somehow good for WoW. I don’t see how people buying this item could at all effect WoW in a positive manner.

    I think that should be the big rally point. This mount doesn’t necessarily have a negative impact (which is arguable), but it most certainly isn’t having a positive one either. What is my money, if I were going to buy this mount, going to do for the game?

  • @Stompfoot: when I was young, I pressured my parents into buying $25 pieces of plastic crap so I could keep up with my friends. Sure they were actual physical products but in terms of actual purpose and permanence they weren’t THAT far removed from a digital horse.

  • “I would definitely use this model in my MMO. I think selling high quality ‘cool’ cosmetic items and creating rarity and excitement can only help a game.”

    This is inane. Cool cosmetic items are fine, but they are far from creating “rarity” here. There are more of these mounts on my server tonight than there are Mammoths.

    “So what if the $100 armani war bear is on the way? That wouldn’t matter one bit. They could release the $10gazillion dollar mount for all I care and it changes nothing. Release armor and things that do impact the game and we’ll reevaluate. BIG DIFFERENCE.”

    Is is a big difference and if the 100$ Armani War Bear is on the way I will be pissed and because it was hard work to gain that mount. But yes while a mount is seemingly a cosmetic item, they are not really all that cosmetic to people. The rare and unique mounts took effort for people to get. Even the TCG mounts are truly rare. They may not take tremendous effort to purchase them off ebay, but they are rare and worth the money because they are.

    This mount is ridiculous. You say you will revolt when they start selling items that “matter”. Well they have been giving that stuff away for virtually free to appease their player base. They will never sell Armor and Gold. But they are selling something that is far more than vanity in my opinion. Its one thing to give away a mount for free if on the rare chance you have a friend who wants to play with you for a month. That is a 50$+ mount and they are extremely rare. This is a 25$ mount that has no obligations on anyone’s part but your own.

  • I have honestly never seen so much ill-mannered and hypocritical statements in a blog in a very long time. Everyone that posts here both negatively and positively cannot say that if the opportunity arises where you could make extra money, even if you have millions, that would just pass it up because you would “feel like a sellout.”

    Blizzard is honestly doing something that a lot of people have been wishing, giving a sense of vanity to us that we can grab when we want and pay if we want to. How does this effect the people that do not push the button to purchase? It doesn’t. This is not a gigantic enterprise looking out to rape you of your wallets money, the only way they can do that is if you bend over and take, and I can honestly say Blizzard is in no way creating a wall that forces you to purchase these Micro’s or halt your gameplay.

    /endrant

    Sorry, but the general public is just an amazing thing.

  • I’m really disappointed to see your lack of foresight Keen, I thought you were smarter than this.

    I said this would happen when the first pets popped up on the store, it’s just the beginning.

    It’s this simple, you paid for the boxes, you pay a monthly fee, you pay for regular expansions and you pay for all the account services.

    The first 2 waves (Lil’KT/Panda and now this Mount/Lil’XT) are just testing the water, they made such an insane amount from the very first wave that only included none-combat pets, that on the second wave they’ve already gone from pets to mounts.

    So given that progression and given the mentality of the guys at the wheel on WoW, what do you think the third wave will expand to? You’re very naive if you believe it will stop here.

    I don’t think you should ever have to pay extra for content that could have been in the game very easily, when you pay for the game, xpacks and every account service, especially with a game as behemoth as WoW. I can’t fault the business, but I can’t believe you didn’t even address any of this in your blog post.

  • If I spent as many hours at the cinma/watching bought DVDs/playing games I bought then the cost would be so much more than what I pay for the hours I spend monthly on wow.

    We all agree that as vanity items these are fine. If people want to spend that cash then they can, I am personally happy with my in game items but if it ends up becoming pay to compete then it will destroy the game we love.

    Everyone is effectively saying this and we just go round in cirles. Let’s wait and find out.

  • I totally agree with keen. Even though i would never buy a mount with real money + i think the sparkly horse looks shit, especialy for a dreanei

  • Do any of you really think a large company like this will stop at vanity items when they see how much money they can bring in by offering items that actually matter?

    Really??

  • I’ve seen varying numbers on sales from 100,000 to 130,000 sold. If you look at the 130k mark (it’s likely higher by now) then thats $3.25 million Blizzard made on this one “micro” transaction, and that money is nearly 100% profit.

    I have no problem with them offering cosmetic pets and mounts whatsoever, but like Jordan and I’m sure many others have said I think the willingness of WoW’s populace to purchase the high prices items sets a dangerous precedence. Seeing these kinds of sales on un-necessary items is sure to make the big wigs foam at the mouth for more. Eventually they will introduce potential game breaking items in their CS, and when they do we will have no one to blame but ourselves for our willingness to ‘pony’ up the cash for shinies.

  • Also as a side note to my above post when Blizzard sets a precedence with their CS, you can almost guarantee most every other major mmo won’t be far behind.

  • @Rybnik: Which I think is a fantastic thing. If Blizzard can show that selling vanity items works, then maybe the idiots selling stuff in their cash shop that actually impacts the game will get a clue.

    @Jordan: Why not? For 6 years they haven’t broken down and crossed the line. Why start now, especially when selling vanity items keeps BOTH SIDES happy? So much angst over what could be when the past and present both paint a very different picture.

  • @Keen: I agree that the way they are running the CS currently in WoW is great. People who are willing to purchase these items are able to, and the game isn’t affected negatively at all. (Aside from some extra lag in Dalaran from all the shiny ponies!)

    Maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in me coming out, but I’m just afraid the corporate big wigs that ultimately run Activision/Blizzard will eventually have their way and restructure the current microtransaction model WoW opperates. In order to milk every last dime they can from the players, who have proved that they are more than willing to pay much more than the current sub price to play their game.

    Maybe I’m still a little too jaded by recent CS transgressions I’ve suffered (read: Allods) to be subjective in this case, but in my experiences thus far in life I’ve learned that corporate greed will almost always win out in the end.

  • @Rybnik

    I think Tobold sort of covered this but I’m going to add.

    This CS is only working because of WoW’s popularity. Any other MMO would be met with little to no success if they tried this. WoW is popular because of the current business model it uses. We get an insane amount of content for very little money. I think Blizzard understands this.

    When I bought my Authenticator from Blizzard I bought a Diablo 3 Calendar and a Draeni Priest action figure. I think Blizzard is an excellent company and I wanted to support them with my wallet, as everyone says we should.

    I think Blizzard is in a position to charge more for future services and the customers to accept it. I also believe that Blizzard knows their is only so much they can force us to pay before we leave and go somewhere else. The MMO market is flooded and it is only a matter of time before someone else strikes gold that isn’t Blizzard.

  • @Epiny: You make some excellent points and I agree with everything you said 100%.

    I guess I’m just wearing my tin foil hat on this one. I just don’t trust that Blizz will function the way they are now (business wise) forever. Eventually somehow someway the non-gamer purely profit driven business man will influence their business model and bring the whole thing crashing down out of the interest of increased profitability.

  • @Rybnik

    I fear that too, I wont lie. I would rather not take any step in this direction than even these little harmless ones.

  • This kind of thing is one of the chief reasons I stopped playing WoW: it might make good business sense but all the cosmetic crap being sold for real money felt like pure greed from a company that makes money at an already insane rate.

    And artificial demand created by “shortages”: complete farce.

  • I think if they did start selling items that impact the game there would be a massive outcry and a large amount of people who would use it as an excuse to move on to something else.

    I dont believe Blizzard are that foolish, and with any luck activision can see how that would equal less profit in the long run

  • Okay, look, they’ve said on the forums that in order to activate each mount you need a code, and these codes are not generated by the Store itself, so Blizzard had to pre-generate like a bajillion of them, and that’s what the Store keeps track of. When they run out of codes, they can just generate more, so there’s no limited supply.

  • @Evalissa- I don’t think Blizzard in and of itself is that foolish, but I do fear that other entities that have a financial interest in their company/products are. *cough* Activision *cough*

  • I like how people think that since Blizzard is one of the few successful game companies they aren’t permitted to make anymore money than they already do.

    You really look foolish when your reason for being against this is that Blizzard already makes to much money.

  • Ever since Blizzard became Activision-Blizzard there seems to be more and more of these microtransactions.

    I think they are part of the reason why wow during the last 18 months have gone down in total subscriptions of the game.

  • Verus, the game being 5 years old has nothing to do with the drop? Or that there isn’t a confirmed drop in the west? Or the fact that WotLK is still top 6 games being sold on Gamestop?

    Yea sure, Activision is the reason Blizzard is failing.

    Sure you could blame Activision for the microtransactions… but then Blizzard has permitted server transfers for a long time and those could be considered microtransactions.

    P.S. Blizzard has 1, 4, 5 and 6 on Gamestop’s Top Selling games right now. Yea they must surely be doomed.

  • Good for Blizzard. Finding new profit is to be applauded. The horses don’t affect the gameplay in any way. If Blizzard ever did introduce microtransactions that affect gameplay, the player-base can evaluate that decision with thier dollars, sorta like how they do on any other product they purchase.

    Anyone complaining about this simply wants a blue sparkly horse, and they want it for free. The entitlement culture pervades gaming as much as reality.

    I hope most of the millions they make on this promotion get used for Diablo 3 development. I also hope the CEO of Activision-Blizzard treats himself to a round of golf on a tropical island for being brilliant too.

  • well someone mentioned how much you spend on wow vs game time played… well lets pout that together say for someone thats played for two years and bought all three expansions at full price (not counting server transfers or extras like char or name changes)

    50, 40, 40 for the game and two expansions.
    15 x 24 for two years sub fees

    thats over 500 dollars just to play wow for two years… is that really worth it? dose blizzard need extra money? Who ever be leaves that there not rolling in profit is a fool. X the 500 for each player that plays one server thats over 2000 subs….

    well. only a fool would think this isent only about one thing, money

  • Wow, so many absolutes in this thread. So much fear. “This WILL cause this”, “This WILL happen because of this”, “This IS the beginning”. Its your choice, don’t like it don’t buy one. Why flame other’s choices? It impacts gameplay none!! They’ve had transactions long before the pet store. Transfers, etc are basically a ‘cosmetic’ change for the player. Haven’t got one, but I might 8)

    OK, I take that back, it has impacted gameplay. Random dungeon group…zoned into Pit of Saron…everyone jumped on their mounts (one was a celestial mount)….tank says: “Wow, a celestial mount, I just can’t group with you.”..tank gets 30 min debuff, we get a new tank in 2 mins.

  • You do realize that selling mounts is just one short step from making the store the only way to get them. Or mounts with faster speeds only able to be gotten in the store. So forth and so on. It leads down a very tricky path. I can’t fathom how someone could see a 25 dollar vanity item as being a “brilliant” idea. It only leads to more items that they’ll be willing to throw out for cash. If we continue to let things like this happen.. games are going to turn into cosmetic shells where all items are obtained and purchased through real currency. We’re already close to that now in a lot of the F2P market.

    This opens up a door that really needs to remain closed in the P2P market. Pretty soon.. you’re going to see EXP boosts and gold boosts and people will praise it because it’s Blizzard. I think it’s pretty sad to see it happen, to be honest.

  • Keen I disagree with your blog. I think it starts a dangerous path by them and hurts the monthly pay scheme. Yes it’s cosmetic/vanity item. However who says it was not an item that was originally designed for a quest or Boss kill in Cata then pulled to be used as a pay item.

    See where I am going… the more you make for micro-transaction the more you hurt your regular game because those used to be included in the monthly plan. yes it may only be fluff items but people pay their monthly fee to get that content included.

    The future extreme would be vanity “cool” items as pay to get in future while “placeholders” with stats are used in the regular game if you get my jist.

    I dont like the precedent they are setting here.

  • To expand on my point a bit more and where I think Blizzard can go down the road with this…

    You kill a high end raid boss and get “the super duper purple hammer of goodness”. It has wicked stats. You equip it and it looks like “the lvl 5 hammer of the wolf”. Their is an upgrade button on the hammer which allows you to preview what it really looks like and for 5$ you can have that hammer look on you…

    Easily done by them all the mechanics are in place already(preview dressing room etc) in the game for it.. scary

  • Everyone here is complaining about how much Blizzard is making in revenues from WoW, but…
    Does anyone have the numbers about how many employees work for “WoW” and how much cost to Blizzard to run all those servers and their maintenance? How much does it cost to Blizzard to develop and publish an expansion like Cataclysm?
    How much does it cost to blizzard to have people 24/7 on all servers as GM or just to control that those servers are working?
    I am very curious! Anyone have those numbers?
    Guess Blizzard/Activision is a listed company in the US, so it’s quite likely that I should find its financial statement online…

  • It started with account management through microtransactions (name changes etc). Then came vanity pets and now a mount. The mount is a significant milestone in that it is the first item that affects gameplay. Granted, it doesn’t affect it a lot but none the less.

    Now it will be easier for blizzard to go even further, slowly inching itself towards a full subscription plus microtransactions model. While the players get used to each stage and never even realize how far it has gone already. Like a crab being slowly boiled.

  • If blizzard does something a person disagrees with, that person is free to unsubscribe to WoW. If you don’t like the horses being microtransaction, then unsubscribe. Blizzard is a business. They’re not in business to make games, they’re in business to make profit.

  • @Railith
    Why? I’m subbed to WoW but haven’t logged on in just over a month, but if I was still playing I would buy it. It is a neat mount and Blizzard has long proven to be a good company, why not buy it?

    @ermansup
    The first step towards micro-transactions were subscription fees for games… and look where that got us!

  • @Epiny
    Completely beside the point as I was not talking about the development toward microtransactions but rather the evolution withing them.

  • You can spin the argument however you want, the point still remains that this entire debate is very much like the one experienced a little over 10 years ago.

  • @Epiny

    Sure it is, however, there is a division in the gaming market now. There are F2Ps that use the microtransactio and there are P2Ps that obviously do not. This isn’t some cutesy pet. This is a game item. A costly one, at that. What’s to stop them from doing this down the road? Armor sets that look awesome to carry over stats. Which has been mentioned. EXP and Gold gain boosting items for “convenience”.

    Where does it end? Microtransactions never belong in a P2P game. You should either go one way, or the other. Instead, we have people who praise them for doing. Just because it’s Blizzard. That’s what saddens me the most. Just because it’s Blizzard, it’s immediately a genious idea. However, not a month ago.. when it was Allods it was wrong. Do you see how that changes? Sure, Allods has WAY more to their CS. Obviously, so. However, microtransactions are just that. They lead down a road, where if we let it happen, they will continue to add and add and we’ll just say “Oh, Blizzard did it. That makes it okay”.

    Which is exactly what most of you are doing. “It’s okay that Blizzard is introducing an item shop. They’re Blizzard after all”. So, what’s to stop them.. on that same logic.. from introducing items that actually can alter gameplay? Are we going to be okay with that, too? Are we really okay with it costing half the price of an expansion?

    You guys blow Kotick out of the water for doing it with MW2 with their DLC. Yet, when Blizzard does it for 1 mount.. you praise it like it was some genious idea. When Kotick is the head of both.

  • The next will be bags, special recieps, special potions and stuff like that.
    I dont think they will ever start to sell items or gold.

  • I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. As long as it is purely cosmetic it doesn’t bother me. That isn’t to say I’m 100% behind this idea. I think Blizzard could do without having any sort of item shop. However in it’s current state I don’t consider it game breaking. To be honest transferring from a PvE server to a PvP server is more game breaking to me than this mount.

    I think you are right, we are looking at it differently because it is Blizzard. Blizzard has an excellent track record with how they run their games and business so we are optimistic. We assume everyone else is out to make a quick buck, and guess what… to this day we’ve pretty much been right.

    Everyone immediately assumes any sort of micro transaction is bad. I think that is an incorrect way of thinking.

    Does this raise alarms for me? Sure it does. I don’t think Blizzard needed to do this and I feel they should have spent their time reworking the Druid form graphics instead of this. I feel that this could be a step in the wrong direction… BUT I have to have faith in Blizzard because of their track record.

    I honestly think Blizzard knows that there is a difference between this mount and selling gear. If Blizzard at any times sells an item for real money that has any sort of statistical bonus in game I will be with everyone else lighting torches. I don’t think this is that time though.

    I think people hate the idea of micro transactions just like alot of us gamers hated the idea of subscriptions to play online games 11 years ago. I think we will just have to see where it goes and how it effects the game.

  • “I think you are right, we are looking at it differently because it is Blizzard. Blizzard has an excellent track record with how they run their games and business so we are optimistic.”

    Track record doesn’t matter. Are we honestly so naive to thing that selling a sparkly mount for 25 dollars wasn’t a way to “make a quick buck”. The fact that Blizzard charges for game items AT ALL, should be enough of proof of it just being the same it always has. This is what bothers me. Just because it’s Blizzard, we say it’s okay. So, are we going to say it’s okay when they -do- start making game changes based around making money from their “Item Shop”? That’s the problem here. By praising this, we’re opening the door for them to do it again. They will do it again. This is the second time now. The vanity pets were the first. Now it’s an actual item that effects what you do in game.

    Having a Blizzard label on something should not be a free pass for this kind of nickel and diming. I don’t care if the company is 3 days old or 30 years old. It doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re dipping their hand into both cookie jars trying to make as much money as possible from it. While we just sit here and say “It’s okay because Blizzard is the one doing it”. It takes the term “Ignorance is bliss” to an entire new level.

  • @ Shadrah

    I can tell you exactly where it will end. It will end when the market decides.

    If the products or services Blizzard is selling are no longer in demand for the price they are asking or if it starts effecting core gameplay and people cancel as a result. If subs are soaring, people are happy with the product, and some are apparently so happy as to throw additional cash at Blizzard for vanity items, they (and any other rational person) should continue to offer the items for sale at a strategic selling price.

    It says volumes about how happy those subscribers are with the products and services they get from Blizzard and the price they pay for them.

  • Guys, I think Keen was being satirical and sarcastic in this post, to be perfectly honest.

    “I think selling high quality ‘cool’ cosmetic items and >>creating rarity and excitement can only help a game<<."

  • There is no doubt in my mind that Blizzard did this to make money. Clearly they didn’t sit down and say “let’s offer our players something wonderful today because we love them” … if they wanted that then it would be free. (And they do often give away neat goodies like this in the mail)

    Blizzard is a business. They exist to make money. Although they did this to make money, they did so without doing it at the expense of the players’ experience.

    All they’ve done is add a cool mount that most people have already forgotten about. I didn’t see a single person talking about it in-game today, yet the first two days it came out its all people talked about. Has the game changed? Not one single bit. Did Blizzard make money? Ohhhh yeah. Did the people who want one get one and are the players overall pleased? Yes. It’s a win/win situation.

  • Personally I’m not too worried that this will affect WoW, because the WoW rewards system is based on items with stats (uber gear) and doesn’t really involve cosmetic enhancements (after five years they haven’t even improved their character generator :(). However, the implications are a bit worrisome for upcoming MMOs such as Guild Wars 2 (Like Blizzard, Anet are also part of an aggressive and probably insensitive company – NCSoft).

    In Guild wars 1 in game rewards are largely cosmetic – That’s one of the great strengths of Guild Wars, because it means that communities (especially Guilds) don’t suffer from level/gear fragmentation and can play together. Further, a relatively flat level curve makes open world PvP (promised for GW2) much more viable (its largely pointless with steep level & gear differences between players).

    So if NCSoft jump on the band wagon of making you pay real money for stuff that distinguishes your character, they will have to make up for it by moving to a more WoW type reward system and that probably would mean that skill becomes subsidiary to gear and level – as in WoW. IMOP that would be a pity.

    Roqsan

  • @Shadrah

    Everyone on this thread that is okay with the mount has said that the moment Blizzard sells in game items with statistical values they will be upset. You fear the slippery slope.

    Blizzard gets a bye, yes, it’s not fair but that is how it works. WoW is a good game so I wouldn’t mind investing a few extra dollars for a neat little toy. It’s an option to the game that doesn’t make it better or worse if I have it or not.

    To be perfectly honest I’m impartial to CS. I think they have a place. I honestly think that they will be better accepted in a P2P MMO than a F2P one because they wont be the primary source of income. The game wont have to be designed around these items to earn it’s monthly bottom line because the subs should cover it.

    Sure Blizzard could start charging for everything in game. At which time I would just take my MMO sub else where. That is how the market works. I think Blizzard knows this and they have a pretty good idea how much we will tolerate before actually leaving WoW.

    One more thing. If Mythic had done this for WAR I would be against it. If you are unable to provide the advertised gaming experience you shouldn’t be charging extra for anything.

  • @ermansup

    How in the heck is the celestial steed going to affect gameplay??

    To the person who said that this is the first step for Blizzard to remove mounts from the game entirely and put them in a cash shop: LOL. I get the feeling you haven’t played WoW much if at all to make that kind of statement.

  • @Jaimie

    Actually, I said that. I’ve played WoW since release. So, yeah. Assumptions are bad, mmkay? I said, with us continuing to let them go about things like this.. what’s to stop them from taking that step in the future. The more you let them do, the more they will think they can get away with. Cash Shops do not belong in Pay to Play MMORPGs. They just don’t. That’s a completely different model for making money in the genre. I don’t pay 15 dollars a month to still have to turn around and pay for things in the game. I expect that to be included with my monthly fee. As it should be.

  • @ Shadrah

    They are not forcing you to pay for anything in-game. Jumping to the conclusion that just because there is a cosmetic mount in the cash shop that *does not affect gameplay in anyway*, Blizzard will eventually take away mounts completely, is just laughable. Because THAT will impact gameplay heavily, anyone who plays WoW knows this. And how Blizzard has made any indication that they would alter the game in such a dramatic way just because of some cosmetic items is beyond me.

    Do you hate the TCG too?

  • It is possible that an emphasis on cash shop items could affect the quality of design of in game equipment, since unattractive/undistinctive in game items would attract people to the cash shop if there were alternative items. That needn’t be obvious, but could be quite subtle. As a next step, for instance, Blizz might introduce cosmetic armor modifications (as in LOTRO) and put them in the cash shop (not as in LOTRO :)) – would that be OK too?

    I see both sides of this argument – on the one hand a cosmetic sparkly horse (which I don’t want anyway) doesn’t really affect the game from my own selfish POV. On the other I can’t help feeling Blizz are being somewhat greedy ($25 !?) and sometimes greedy people lose perspective on when its a good time to stop eating.

  • $25 for a frickin’ flying horse? Ridiculous! If you bought one of these (or any cash-shop pets for that matter)… Well, you might as well just shout to everyone, “Look at me! I’m a completely moronic, money-wasting idiot!” because yes, that’s what you are. =P

    As for the precedent being set, yeah, there will be more of this shi… er, stuff in the future, but I highly doubt it will reach the point where everything has a price tag, as has been mentioned previously.

  • Really surprised they have not done so much before this really, with the amount of subs they have and the amount that are casual the money that could be made from just vanity things like this could be absolutely huge.

    Best thing they could do is add slots for vanity clothes allowing people to not only wear their normal armour but to look like something else that they could then sell the vanity clothes (personally I’d pay to look like T2 rogue again :P). This blatantly stolen from Eq2 of course (where they sell the gear as well).

    There is so much vanity stuff that people would be that could be sold to nickel and dime people out of their cash, I’m just surprised that Kotick hasn’t jumped on it yet (maybe this is the first of many?).

  • Just a bump…Keen read this and read your latest Turbine rant. Anyone sounding like a hypocrite?

  • There is a difference between a microtransaction like this and a free to play game which I’ve clearly explained.

    Anyone unable to read?