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So, here’s a thing.

I logged on earlier this evening and saw someone in Dalaran on the back of a Celestial Steed. Assuming it was some as-yet unannounced Ulduar Hard Mode reward (considering who I saw was on it) I went and searched online to discover, as the rest of the World did last night, that Blizzard were selling them for 20 euros.

20 Euros.

The screenie above was my spot in the queue before my browser crashed. The next time I tried, there were 60,000 other people there waiting, and at that point I shut down Firefox in disgust and walked away. It wasn’t because of the cost: 20 euros for that mount, which if you buy it then applies to every character on your account, which is both a ground and flying mount at once, is a pittance. The ingame cost of grinding to afford a mount like that for every alt I have is well worth 20 euros, and then some. My problem came with trusting a transaction like that when my PC’s connection to the Interwebs is shaky at best right now. I can’t queue like that. I’m pretty sure Blizzard’s Store Infrastructure had a hard time coping with it as well. There will be men in while lab coats and clipboards making notes on all this, showing the power of the right vanity item available potentially to millions of people simultaneously…

Much will be written, I suspect, as to the moral validity of such items, mostly because mounts have become an important way of judging a person’s place in the Warcraft Social Heirarchy. The (literally) hundreds of people who will be posing outside the AH/Bank/Fountain tomorrow on these aren’t saying ‘look at me, I’ve achieved something technically complex in game’ they’re screaming ‘look I spent cash to buy this, will you do the same?’ It’s the same situation we’ll see no doubt when the new Recruit-a-Friend mount appears: ‘look I bought a second/third account so I could just get hold of one of these’ is just as likely to be the label to attach than the ‘bringing new blood into the game’ kudos. It also means, I suspect, that those mounts that people have actually earnt or worked hard for will gain a level of extra relevance to boot. This is right and proper in my mind too, because even though I’ve never been a big fan of willy-waving I’m even less of a fan of people believing that buying your rarity makes it any better.

I’ve been working my way towards 100 mounts with little drive or enthusiasm, even though the reward is in my opinion STILL the best looking flying mount currently in game. The reason I don’t want to push the issue is the in-game cost that the next 35 or so mounts in game will mean. At a time when many people are cutting back their gametime to concentrate on Other Things, the last thing I really want to do is get all blinkered and focussed into believing being able to mount up on a Dragonhawk is a good use of the time I currently have. If I made the effort to do the Tournament Dailies on a regular basis I could gather a fair few of the mounts, but frankly there are better things to do. Yet again it boils down to the in-game costs.

I don’t think 20 euros is much to pay for a quick fix and a mount that means all of my alts have a flying mount available if needed. What I’m not so sure about is the way that Blizzard chose to sell them. I think that side of things at least could do with some work.

One thought on “My Kingdom for a Horse!

  1. If I was a Blizzard shareholder I would be very impressed by this initiative- it is clearly a license to print money (at least 1.2m Euros if all 60,000 of those people you saw in the queue eventually completed the transaction and much more I suspect!).

    However, as a Blizzard customer I am less impressed at what seems to be a real 'game changer' in terms of approach…

    Of course it is a major convenience to be able to pick up such a mount for all your alts for a relatively reasonable price but is this the thin end of the wedge?

    If the revenues from this exercise are as large as we all suspect then the Blizz bean counters will put the Devs under tremendous pressure to engineer other such 'opportunities' into the game…

    Before you know it WOW could be just another Evony or similar where your ability to compete is more dictated by willingness to spend money than by skill or time spent.

    Personally I have always disliked how so much of the game is more time than skill based but to make it reliant on an ability to pay would be disaster.

    RL is already like that in so many ways: Why would we want our fantasy worlds to conform to the same capitalist constraints ?

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