More items have been revealed that will be coming to the existing Blizzard cash store.

MMO Champion has a lovely write-up with videos and pictures of the new stuffs.

There are lovely helms with animation that are purely for transmog, and some cute functional items, one for playing on a teeter-totter and another item that gives mounts to a whole raid.. temporarily, I’m sure.

This is causing me to stop and re-evaluate my position on the store concept.

Er, wait.. why?

Here is what my true, inner-gut reaction was to the new items that were revealed.

“Wow, those helms are incredibly cool. That ice helm in particular is just amazing. And the hitching post to give your entire raid team the look of a thundering army on top of the same horse model? What a neat concept.”

“But why are they putting such cool items with excellent art assets in a store to buy instead of in the game I already pay for? If they’re going to be spending development resources making a LOT of super-cool items in a short period of time, I expect them to be included in the game somewhere to find or earn.”

That was my true reaction. I could lie, but that is how I felt, and it made me question a few things about my attitude towards the game itself.

I’ve long said I love World of Warcraft for what it is, and you’ll have to pry my account from my cold, dead fingers. Or, y’know, close the servers down. When the last fortress on Azeroth is overrun, I’ll be the one lowering the Alliance flag.

What I didn’t realize was how much the monthly subscription fee was a part of my ‘WoW for life’ attitude.

Items for sale aren’t new to the game. That’s the funny thing. There have long been really cool items that you can only get by spending extra money, in some cases massive wads of cash, just to add them into the game we pay a subscription for.

I had no problem with those, so why would this be any different?

It all comes down to what I’ve felt was an unspoken agreement between me as a monthly subscriber and Blizzard as a content provider.

I will continue to pay my subscription fee every month, and in exchange Blizzard will continue to have their development team focused on creating and releasing fresh content for me to enjoy.

When we ask for more features, such as player housing, if the answer is “We are using those resources to create more quests instead, we prioritize our development resources on what will benefit the majority of players in the game, new quests for all or limited content for a few. You have to choose between the features you want and new content”, I accept that answer at face value.

When I suddenly see a flood of cool, fresh new items that have beautiful art assets/designs, and those items are going to be only for those who spend real cash money on them, I get irritated.

Those items look quite a lot nicer than a lot of what I see in the game. Sorry, but it’s true. There is some very nice art in there. There is genuine effort going into making those specifically desirable over items in the game.

The reason I’ve enjoyed the items previously in the Blizzard cash store has been their scarcity. They are few, and there has traditionally been a long time between new item releases.

A single pet design dropped in the store has never bothered me, when it’s both optional AND couldn’t possibly use up that many resources to make. A single pet every 4 months isn’t gonna kill anyone, and could even be a nice chore passed off to an intern. No worries.

If they are going to ramp up the design and production of a bunch of items that require unique art design and special coding, enough not just for three cute items in a Trading Card game run but a slew to populate a new store, I’m going to have a problem reconciling the use of those development assets on store shit instead of the game I pay for.

If you’ve got those assets available, then it is a conscious choice to use them for store stuff for added revenue instead of the content that has been asked for over the years, such as player housing.

No real changes here to what I do. I’m not rage quitting or even remotely thinking about it. Still paying to play the game, still having fun.

I can feel the quake, though. In my mind, we had a deal. I pay to play, you put the majority of your effort into stuff to drop in the game for me to enjoy.

I pay the money for the new expansions, for three accounts. I never cancel or suspend any of my accounts. Over the lifetime of the game, that’s been some investment on my part, and I’ve had my fun out of it, no question.

The deal has worked well, for both sides I think.

If you put in a cash store, I’m going to look very carefully at how much development time is going into the items there, and I’m going to be comparing, in my mind, the quality and style of those items over what is being added into the game for subscription payers.

If I start to feel that the best and brightest A-game materials are being reserved for the cash store, I’ll revisit my part of our agreement.

The quality of the game I play has been solid, never had any reason to complain, and I’m not starting now.

Just a fair warning. I’ve played other microtransaction driven games, I’m cynical as all hell about how they work based on actual experience, and I’ve got my eye on you.

15 Responses to “The New Warcraft Store – For Reals”
  1. Kemonojin says:

    Do the items take up that much in the way of resources, though? How long does it take someone to design a helmet? For the horse, ‘transform when interacted’ items are already in (The burning brazier), ‘transform your mount’ items are in (Fresh and preserved holly), and horse skeleton and most of the animations (running, rearing, etc) are in already… All they’d have to do is create a new skin and whatever custom animations, and that’s the work of one or two people…

    The one helmet looks like Ragnaros’s head, which has already been shrunk for the pet ‘Lil Ragnaros’, so the animation for that is already there. The skull on the other one looks a lot like the mage’s tier 11 http://www.wowhead.com/item=60243 with a little added froofy on top. The other one I don’t recognize, but doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of new stuff there, yet another ‘black face glowing eyes’…

    I agree with you to a point; Achievements irritated the hell out of me because they wasted a lot of resources that COULD have been used for actually fixing problems (Did the rogue’s vanish ever get fixed? Or the druid range bug? I had a screenshot of me in cat form with my head stuck THROUGH someone, sticking out of their chest, and getting ‘you are too far away’ when trying to attack them from behind) for no purpose other than to attract the xbox kiddies who won’t play a game if they don’t have lube for their epeens. But now that they’re in, adding new ones isn’t that big a deal. Most of the work for the new stuff is already done, it seems to me.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      It depends entirely on how much of a push they put behind it.

      The horse model for the Hitching Post, for example, takes no current resources at all. It’s appearance was datamined months ago. And as you say, helms are helms, all it takes is the artist to be allowed the time to design a truly pretty one, and the coding behind the scenes to allow an item that can transmog across all armor types.

      Maybe it’s absolutely nothing at all, and there will be true resources devoted to this. In which case, I’ll be watching, and I’ll breathe a sigh of relief that the game continues the same level of amazing quality that has characterized all of mists so far. To me, anyway.

      Or, perhaps this signals a shift in focus, taking the resources they freed up from Titan and putting them into monetizing the hell out of WoW… BUT without stealing existing resources from the game. In which case I breathe a sigh of relief that the quality continues and I cast a weary eye on all the neat stuffs I can’t afford.

      My only fear is that the current news signals a focus towards monetizing the heck out of the game with a big push to store microtransactions, AND that they will be shifting people away from new content towards store items. I think realistically it’s a fat chance, but I’m going to voice my concerns now, when concerns should be raised, instead of waiting until it’s too late to say something.

      • Kemonojin says:

        Didn’t mean it at all to sound like ‘lol ur dum’. :P You know more about this than I do; I hadn’t heard of the store at all before you mentioned it. If it turns into microtransactions / pay to win I’d probably end up leaving too…

        The one thing that bothers me about the game now is not actually the game’s fault; my guild is too small to raid anymore (we lost several people… if flexible raiding had come out just a little sooner… ) and I can’t tolerate the asshattery in LF*. But I keep coming back, doing the weekly to keep my gear up as best I can hoping that it will be useful sometime…

  2. Jason says:

    While this is exceptionally cynical of me, I am not at all surprised by this. While WoW is still an enjoyable MMO(for what time I put into it these days, which is admittedly nowhere near what it used to be), I’ve had this feeling that they’re slowly shifting their focus to additional ways to monetize WoW. The CCG, the pet store, all ways to flow additional money as their sub numbers tail off. It’s really only been a matter of time before you start seeing things that are as cool or cooler from there than you can get in game; just look at the amount of pets out there that have no other way to be gotten without going to Blizzcon or by buying em from the store.

    I definitely agree though, that something’s gotta give on their part; while I’ll buy that the dungeon team can focus on raids or 5 mans and that time on one comes at the expense of the other, GC et al can go piss up a rope if they’re going to try and feed their players that same line when it comes to art assets.

  3. Lokyst says:

    “When I suddenly see a flood of cool, fresh new items that have beautiful art assets/designs, and those items are going to be only for those who spend real cash money on them, I get irritated.”

    This expresses exactly how I felt about the WoW store all those years ago when the first store pet was released but there was no new anniversary /xmas item that year.

    Essentially I see the subscription as a promise that the devs will be spending their resources on developing more content for the game and that I am paying for it upfront. When I see them take my subscription money and then use it to work on assets that I then have to pay for again in a cash store … or not release any new content for 9 months …

    • Kemonojin says:

      Yeah, that sucked… and when they cheaped out on Ahune, leaving him exactly the same so you could solo him one year, and then the next a really horribly itemized scythe that nobody actually wanted to use…

  4. Ishtla says:

    If it were just the hitching post and see-saw I wouldn’t mind as these are already items you can buy with real money (TCG items). The transmog helms are crossing the line and sadly I think we aren’t far from having to pay cash to get extra bank or void storage or even an extra character slot if you have used all 11 already.

    • Iocane says:

      Luckily, with the virtual realms that are coming, the 11 slot thing isn’t gonna be an issue. But yeah…I worry about the extra bank or void storage thing.

  5. Morrighan says:

    I had to think about this one a bit. Blizzard have doubled the number of developers on WoW. They are bringing out new content faster and more of it. All for the cost of a sub. That sub that costs the same as it did when you started. Even if the number of subscribers was static, Blizzard would lose money every year by not increasing their sub by inflation. Not only do they absorb that cost, they expand the team and give us more.

    Personally not only am I okay with the Blizzard store, but I will see it the same way I see buying things in Guild Wars 2 – as me paying to support the game I am enjoying. Yes, we already pay the sub, but we know where that goes. If we want even more, we have to pay for it.

  6. [...] This concern is a bit more legitimate. John Patricelli over at Big Bear Butt brings up some rather valid concerns. [...]

  7. R says:

    I like this reaction… I don’t agree with it, but combined with Morrighan’s observation that over 8+ years they’ve never increased the subscription cost, I think it could end up in some sort of premium subscription that, say, includes these cosmetic store items &/or other perks. I’ll still pay the same $15 that I always have, I couldn’t possibly care less about those cosmetic trinkets, but for those who want them but don’t want to get into the cosmetic microtransaction game as a consumer, they can pay $5 more a month to have them included as they’re released. That may or may not be a good deal depending on how often they’re released but for those of similar mind who think that things should be included with their subscriptions, they’ll have that option.

    Another option would be to make those assets available in-game but either as a very low-chance drop, via BMAH, via JP/VP, etc. Something that definitely wouldn’t be a good gold/hr value (although almost nothing in-game is good value by that measure so the activity itself has to have some entertainment value) but is an option for those who refuse to use the store but really want the items.

  8. Azwing says:

    Seems like a slippery slope, but I guess it remains to be seen if it is, or how steep that slope may be.

    I’m in agreement with you, BBB. To have the extra effort put into things that go into the store just doesn’t quite feel right to me. And, the cost on top of the sub fee thing, too, doesn’t feel right. I’ve never had a problem with a mount or pet here and there, especially one where proceeds go to charity. But, the new announced items seem to be flirting with the line.

  9. Kyre says:

    Well honestly I’m playing Guild Wars 2 right now, mainly because they have floofy charr mesmers and that’s just different from anything playable in WoW, but still I may have a bit of a bias. Frankly, not all free to play games are set up to rob you and not all subscription models are bad, but it does smack of a little greed having a initial purchase, with expansions (even if the price has been brought down by a sale it still is a noticeable entry fee); having a nontrivial subscription fee AND having a store. WoW is a much more newbie friendly game, but when I picked which of the two I’d play with my little sister it ended up being Guild Wars because of that durned entry fee + sub. It adds up man, especially when you only play on and off.

    WoW is by no means a bad game, and they easily could go the route Guild Wars did though and give you a freebee the month after you spend money in the store. I don’t know if it would quell the bad taste left by the idea subscribers aren’t getting ALL the content. Maybe if they made it such that the base subscription fee was lower and the current sub gave you allowance of in store currency monthly.

  10. Sprowt says:

    I think this will be one of those “proof is in the pudding” moments … I really can’t see that many people spending real (relatively large amounts) of cash on a small amount of mogging items, for example … so either they’ve had someone do it in their down-time and it makes financial sense to them regardless of the amount of sales they make, or they put some real effort into it and need a decent percentage of their users to buy them. If it’s the latter .. then we’ll soon see whether or not it’s worthwhile them doing it.

    I, for one, am what we call in the UK, a “tight northerner” … I’m reluctant to spend real money on anything :P Basically, it’s down to the subscribers. If they don’t buy it, then Blizzard will no longer put the resources into it.

    • Tesh says:

      That’s the interesting bit, though… if the game didn’t have the subscription cover charge, the numbers on something like this might well be very different. It’s an interesting move on Blizzard’s part. Not what I’d call a wise one, either.

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