Yesterday, as I headed out the door to work I saw MMO Champion’s announcement that the new mini-pet and Celestial Mount were going to someday be available on the Blizzard Store.
Later that day, Cassie called to give me a shocking update; someday was in fact today.
Well, yesterday. Whenever. YOU know.
By the time I got home at the end of the day, WoW.com had announced with frenzied excitement that the queue on the Blizzard Store to purchase things was up to 80,000. Or, as WoW.com put it, the queue was almost ten times more than OVER NINE THOUSAND.
Sometimes, I wish internet memes had a physical presence you could drive a fricken stake through the heart of, and then sprinkle with lime at the landfill.
It’s not like using them takes literary skill. Here, this took two seconds to pull out of my butt; “Celestial Steed? This isn’t a Celestial Steed. THIS…. IS….. PONY!!!”
Still, I logged into Dalaran, and to what do my aching eyes should appear, but several jolly old Elves, and ten shining reindeer… um, Celestial Steeds.
Standing there. In Dalaran. Hanging out.
As though their owners were proudly posing for screenshots to be taken of their awesomeness.
If the irony of players posing on purchased steeds to be admired wasn’t poignant enough, there was one lone player sitting astride his Spectral Tiger mount next to them, as though saying, “Look at me on my even more special mount that cost real money to get.”
Chat in Dalaran revolved, of course, around the new mounts.
The buzz at the time I logged in was how awesome it was that you could now buy mounts with a flight speed of 310% directly from the Blizzard store.
I mentioned in Trade chat, and copy/pasted the quote from MMO Champion, the news that the mounts did not automatically confer 310% flight speed on a player. Instead, it scaled to match the maximum level of mount skill your current player already had. If you no have 310% from another mount, than you no get it with Celestial Steed.
This was the, and I kid you not, immediate response in Trade chat;
“Then why would anyone buy one?”
No, I’m not kidding.
“Because it’s very, very pretty.”
Look, World of Warcraft is a wonderful, fun game, but there is a big difference in giving you access to cosmetic mounts and pets in a Store for real money, and giving you access to items that provide an actual in-game advantage in exchange for having deep pockets.
I’m very grateful that, so far, Blizzard hasn’t crossed that line.
If you are going to spend money on in-game items from the Blizzard Store, please don’t do it for any other reason than, “I think it’s shiny, and I’m cool with paying money to have the pretty, pretty pony.”
Only you can decide if your personal finances put $25 for a pretty mount in the category of “casual purchase whenever I feel like it.”
For ourselves, $25 isn’t that big a deal, we spent more than that on dinner last night.
But, and this is a key point, we didn’t spend that much on a single mount for our characters in a video game that wouldn’t improve the quality of gameplay for either of us.
I’m not personally opposed to in-game items for cash. Not at all.
I just don’t personally see doing it for that kind of investment-for-reward ratio.
Or, to put it another way, that’s more money for a single mount model than we pay to play the game for a month.
I bought the Pendaren Monk, I purchased the webstream of the last Blizzcon event, and I’ve given serious thought to buying the Horde flight mount mini-pet with real world stuffed animal for my desk.
For me, in each of those situations, there was more involved than a single cosmetic item for my character in the game.
A donation made to charity, streaming Blizzcon information and an Ozzy concert with bonus Murloc Marine pet, a damn cute plush animal for Alex to play with. All win, and all pushing a purchase towards the “value for money” part of the equation.
When I saw the Celestial Mount posers yesterday, I was thinking two things.
- “Damn, that’s a sweet looking mount.”
- “Wow, posing with that on the Dalaran steps just proves you think having $25 bucks is a real big deal.”
Let’s be honest. Buy it if you’d love a really hawt looking mount, especially having a mount ready to go as soon as you train an alt with Riding Skill.
But please, don’t pose with it in Dalaran and expect gushing. It’s not exactly in the same conspicuous consumption category as, say, a new Ferarri.
That’s just where I am on these in-game item purchases.
What would get me to buy an in-game mount?
Well, again, perceived value for money. A little extra.
For example… I wouldn’t buy the Celestial Mount for $25, but I might buy a mount that had spots for two passengers, or, when no passengers were available, had two vendors (Just like the Mammoth), a mount that applied to all characters as soon as you trained riding skill at level 20.
Something like that might never happen. It would be providing two actual benefits that are not possible for any other new character of that level; a traveling vendor and a passenger option.
I think, strictly as game design philosophy, that a good limit to make on Store purchases is, “If I sell this for real world money, does it provide any game mechanic benefit not available to another character of the same level through pure gameplay?”
I think in the case of my passenger mount example, that converting the mounts that cost thousands of gold with passengers and vendors to Bind on Account and scalable to level 20 would make the venture as fair as the entire “Heirloom” system.
But you get the idea. I think that so long as you don’t get to buy something that gives you an in-game advantage over other players with shallower pockets, then it’s all good, go for it, open season.
And I love how Blizzard has previously released items with that extra value for money. The in-game pets with bonus plushie animals is just awesome. I love that idea.
You know, now that I think of it… if they’d released the Celestial Mount with plush real-world horsie, I bet if we had a daughter it’d be in the mail on it’s way to us right now.
But let’s wrap this up, okay?
Whether or not you buy it, or were the first on your block to get it, please don’t mistake it for anything other than what it is;
A very pretty mount available to anybody with $25 in their pocket.
If just having a pretty mount to enjoy isn’t enough for you, then don’t buy it. It’s not going to give you 310% flight speed while bypassing all the in-game achievements you need to do right now, and nobody I can imagine is going to look at you riding the mount, and think, “Wow, you must be teh leet awesomesauce.”
On the other hand…
Hey, Blizzard, could you throw in with each Celestial Mount a complimentary pair of black leather riding gloves, wraparound sunglasses, black Member’s Only jacket and bald spot?
The Celestial Mount; favored riding mount for every balding Human going through a mid-life crisis!