Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pet Store, or "Paying Real Monies For Account-Bound Pets"

I said a while back I was glad Blizz hadn't pulled a Sims 3 on us and started selling tons of cosmetic items on their store to rake in the cash.

That statement was hasty.

They just announced 2 pets for the Blizzard store: Pandaren and Lil KT.

They're cheaper than TCG pets -- $10 each -- and unlike TCG pets, they act like collector's edition pets where they're given to all characters you have or ever will have. I paid $25 just for the BC:CE game code on ebay, so I'd say Blizz is making their pets cheaper than you'd get from resale. I also applaud the fact that they're not doing the "points" crap where you convert money into points and use points to buy things. They're very upfront about how much the pets cost, and while some players may have issues with the price or the ethics of selling pets, Blizz could be a lot more underhanded about the whole thing.

Also in defense of Blizz, note that half the purchase price of a Pandaren Monk will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation until the end of this year. They could have put this on KT, but they put it on the more popular pet.

There will still be complaints, but I think the price is reasonable for what you get, as long as they don't upload an overwhelming number and thus overextend the hardcore collectors. Otherwise, it really will be nice for people who just want to pick and choose their favorites. I tend to ask for things like this on my birthday and Christmas, and I'll be happy to see what else they come up with in the future.

As for those of you worried Blizz is going to start selling gear and weapons in their massive corporate greed, the FAQ gives a clear answer:
Does this mean you'll be introducing more services like this in the future? Will you be introducing the ability to buy epic weapons/etc. in the future, for example?
As with the pets, mounts, and other items players can obtain through Loot cards from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, Pet Store pets are purely cosmetic and just for fun. Like other paid services we offer, such as Paid Name Changes, Race Changes, and Character Re-Customizations, the Pet Store service is entirely optional and intended to provide players another means to enjoy World of Warcraft in a way that isn't detrimental to the game and that doesn't detract from the gameplay experience for players who choose not to use the service.
In less controversial news, MMO-Champion has a photo of the Perky Pug, and it's SO CUTE!!! It's totally a little so-ugly-it's-adorable pug dog.


  1. I already have my panderan monk. When I get paid next week, I'm getting L'il K.T.


  2. Hmm, I still really don't like this venture by Blizzard at all.

    Whilst it may be 'purely cosmetic' and 'for fun' the 2 pets do actually give an advantage in that they no doubt count towards your 75 pet achievement. Does that count as an advantage over other players if you have the cash or not? They really need to iron out their EULA into black and white. One moment they say paying real life cash for in-game items/gold is prohibited and the next minute they are cashing in on it themselves.

    I would argue this sort of thing actually further fuels the purchase of in-game items/gold for real life money. People see Blizzard implementing ways for players to gain an advantage in an achievement, no matter how small, and they will simply use it is an excuse for their gold buying.

    Example logic: 'Blizzard implements ways for people to gain an advantage in their pet achievement, so why can't I buy gold to get an advantage in my mount achievement? After all, mounts are also cosmetic and just for fun. Flight paths are in-game and the basic mounts are exceptionally cheap now. 310% speed mounts are rare drops/achievement related. Even the 100 mount award is only 280% speed. Im only gaining as much an advantage as other players are in their pet achievements and they'll gain an even bigger advantage when Blizzard introduces more pets to the store.'

  3. Your argument is vaguely flawed, Jiriki. When you get right down to it, the only thing that this is doing is allowing more "dick-hat points". Not everyone is obsessed with pet collecting or mount collecting. You don't even need these two pets to get the achievement.

    Heaven knows, my Mage already has 70 pets, excluding my newly purchased Panderan. And still haven't gotten a ton of in-game pets (I think there's at least 15 more I can get).

    And the only time people really want to buy gold is usually for the Epic Flight training (4000g, and that's only if you take the time to get exalted with Thrallmar/Alliance equivalent). After that, it's kind of moot as you can accumulate the 1000g for Cold Weather and for Dual spec in short order. Hell, people can make that kind of gold in a couple days if they're dediated.

    So really, when you get right down to it, "dick-hat points".

  4. I do think the point is somewhat valid in that pets aren't "purely" cosmetic as long as there is an achievement for getting them. While you're not prevented from getting the achievement, in effect, someone who's willing to cough up the $20 can get an achievement that much faster than someone who has to grind for those last two pets in the game.

    I don't really care all that much about this because I'm pretty easily able to avoid the temptation to spend lots of money on things like that, even if it takes me "X" more days to accomplish something in the game. I won't be buying these pets, and I'll just be thankful that I'm not the completist type who will feel the need to buy them!

  5. I can certainly understand opposition to the pet store, though I'm taking a more moderate approach. I'm not afraid to farm my pets honestly for achievements, and I'm pleased about the option to buy something I really like.

    On Jiriki's gold selling point, Blizz has condemned it harshly but it's definitely not on the same level as their pet selling. While those pets give an advantage in one type of achievement, they truly are an optional part of the game and targeted mostly to collectors who would buy them whether an achievement existed for it or not. Gold selling, on the other hand, was something I considered harmless until I read this post about how most gold sellers get their gold through scamming and hacking. Thus people who buy gold are making it profitable for hackers to keep violating people's accounts.

    I'd consider buying pets to reach the 75 achievement more of a problem if Blizzard intentionally made pet collecting difficult to achieve without the store ones. Since my Dustfire has 91 pets currently (only Netherwhelp was bought) and still doesn't have all of the available in-game ones, I have to say that gold buying will actually get a person farther in pet collecting than purchasing store pets.

    Which... yeah. Gold buying bad!

  6. The 75 pet achievement was never fair.

    CE pets do count and they are bought with RL money.

    Limited time pets, which newer players can never get again, do count (the dragon from Olympia, the bat from the khara event).

    Pets not available to European players do count (Mountain Dew robot).

    Pets you buy from Trading Cards do count.

    Nothing changed there.

    I see more potential problems if the next achievement requires 150 pets and can only be achieved if you buy at least 20 pets from their shop (or even 1).

    Then, I really think the dance studio will be perfect for milking people. Sorry to say that, but the people interested in the dance studio are probably the people most like to pay huge sums of money for cosmetic stuff.

    I'm still waiting for the "one instance, one dollar" change. :-)

    What I think is interesting is that you are allowed to sell these pets in game for in game money (at least that's how I understood the FAQ). That really allows you to buy wow gold with RL money.

  7. I'm sorry, I don't have time to read all the comments, I just wanted to add my 5c to he argument that the pets have an in-game benefit since you can use them for the minipet achievements...

    1) I bought them, and they're pets number 85 and 86 on my pet collector - and I *don't* grind/farm for pets. All my pets have been easily obtainable or cheap.

    2) Can you really say they have a benefit beyond being "cosmetic" because they add to an achievement when achievements are purely cosmetic?

    Personally I think it's great that I won't have to worry about bidding on some overpriced TCG card to get minipets that aren't available in-game (rocket chicken, I'm looking at you!!). Why should someone ELSE make money off of me for something he didn't make? The charity is the icing on the cake, but really... $10, most tweens have higher allowances than that!

    Finally, on the whole notion of the slippery slope towards selling weaps and such (things that alter the actual gaming) for cash; I sincerely doubt Blizz will do that. I doubt they'll do that to their game, they've worked too hard on creating a loyal fan base to upset things like that. I think we should trust Blizz on this one. :o)

  8. Blizzard clearly state in the EULA that paying real life money to gain any form of advantage over other players, no matter how small or for which part of the game, is prohibited. All I am saying above is they need to properly define what an 'advantage' is. Is an advantage buying epic armour and therefore having better stats in the PvE/PvP area of the game because you paid out more than somebody else? Is an advantage paying money for items to further yourself in an achievement?

    It doesn't matter whether the advantage is for achievement points or not, it's still in my eyes an unfair advantage over an aspect of the game. I would be equally against it if they had done it for any other aspect of the game. Achievement points are optional, but then again so is participating in PvE or PvP. Blizzard need to draw a line in the sand and say, 'This is what you can do, this is what you can't do, and why'. Instead they give the vague answer quoted by Birdfall above neither saying they will introduce epic items and not saying they won't. Seems mighty suspicious to me and I am firmly in the 'do not like, will not purchase' group. Go and take a look at the WoWInsider poll today and you'll see the massive split within at least that small cross-section of the community. More people are in the No/Sign of the apocalypse group than in the Yes group.

    It also doesn't help that the prices are ridiculously high for something so small. $10 works out to £6 in England, yet we still have to pay £10. This works out that in England I would be paying 16 dollars for a little tiny pet. Only one of which even donates money to the Make A Wish foundation.

    Blizzard just lost China (again) so I guess they had to come up with some way to recoup the cash I guess, meh..

  9. I fail to see what the advantage conferred by the pets is, Jiriki. And you can moan and whine that it grants an advantage in the Achievements category, but that's just not true.

    Players have to participate in PvE, period. It's the only way to advance in the game. Or was, until they introduced BG experience. But to even access PvP content, you either have to be retarded (running around in the Op Force areas with your flag on and being level 1) or you have to level to 10 to go to the BGs.

    What is an advantage, you ask? Merriam-Webster tells us:

    1 : superiority of position or condition (higher ground gave the enemy the advantage)
    2 : a factor or circumstance of benefit to its possessor (lacked the advantages of an education)
    3 a : benefit, gain; especially : benefit resulting from some course of action (a mistake which turned out to our advantage) b obsolete : interest 2a

    According to those definitions, which I would assume that Blizzard had in mind when they used the word, it doesn't appear that a vanity pet that confers no advantage (other than looking cool/cute and jeering at your defeated enemies) to any aspect of gameplay actually does anything.

    And you'll kindly note through your irritation that it is called a 'PET store". Not a "mount store", not an "equipment store".

    A Pet Store, Jiriki. The only things in a pet store, at least here in America, are pets and the necessary equipment to properly care for them. I have yet to find combat armour or shotguns in a pet store.

    And the best part of a free market is that if you don't want to pay that much for it, you don't have to buy it. No one is going to force you to buy a pet in-game or out of game. Isn't that great? You can keep your money if you want to, and no one will think less of you.

    And really, Blizzard doesn't need China. If we go by just the amount of active accounts in America, multiplied by $15.99 or whatever the cost is, Blizzard is already pulling in a huge amount of gross profit (profit before operation costs, taxes, and the like), not to mention all their other projects like Starcraft, Diablo, etc.

  10. For me, it's not whether or not there is an advantage, it's whether or not that advantage matters.

    The best argument I've heard (from talking to my guild) is against the wisdom of microtransactions as a system and how it ends up hurting the consumer. The problem with that argument is that most of the people using it talk about a "slippery slope" and condemn Blizzard for offenses they have not yet committed.

    If they start selling gold, I'll listen to complaints about it. Until then, Blizz has said they're not going to do that and I believe them. If they change their mind in the future ever, we'll give them hell. Me included.

    Until then, they're innocent of stuff they "might" do.

  11. (Not sure that the above was in response to any particular comment here. Mainly it was about my guild's discussion.)

  12. Luckily, Americans (are rarely) of the mind that the innocent are innocent until proven guilty.

    Ignore my cynicism, please.

  13. Blizzard need to draw a line in the sand and say, 'This is what you can do, this is what you can't do, and why'.

    Well, they're at least half way there in very clearly delineating that you can't buy gold and you can buy their store pets. I guess the other half of what Jiriki says the need to do is to explain why.

    Personally, I don't think they necessarily have to do that. We're buying time on their servers. As long as they explain what the rules are, they are under no obligation to explain to us why. Might be nice . . . but certainly not obligatory. I mean, Jiriki's right that Blizzard does need to explain what the rules are. But that's it. And in this case, I think they have.


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