The World of Warcraft pet shop was updated with two new items yesterday - an additional minipet for $10 (same as the two pets in the store's initial launch) and a cosmetic mount for a whopping $25. The mount manages to remain a cosmetic item because it can travel no faster than the fastest mount that a character already owns (i.e. all it does is allow you to change your mounted look).
Two Blogosphere Extremes
The two most extreme reactions I've seen so far are from Keen, who applauds Blizzard from finding such a voluntary way to make more money and Darren the Common Sense Gamer, who blasts Blizzard and its customers alike for the cosmetic item that costs more than numerous entire games. I agree and disagree with parts of both positions.
I'm not as quick as Darren to tell others that their use of money is incorrect, but he does have a point. The $55 that it would cost to obtain the Blizzard store's three minipets and one mount is more than the total that I've spent on DDO, where I'm unlocking content that I will continue to have access to without future monthly fees.
Likewise, the prices for future mounts may climb even higher, and, like Keen, I don't have a problem with that. The concern is rather that there may eventually be an upper limit to how many different cosmetic minipets and mounts players will be willing to purchase. If that limit is ever reached, the next step will be to offer something that has more of an effect on gameplay than a +1 to the mount or pet collector achievements. This will happen, indeed, the market says that this should happen, but that could very easily take the game and the genre in a direction that Keen himself just forswore a few months ago in the Allods fiasco.
The Disenfranchisement of the Majority?
The success and expansion of the store was nigh inevitable. Non-users don't really get a vote against this type of change, since few, if any, players are actually willing to cancel their subscriptions over it. The only way for the original round of pets to have failed would have been if they had been priced inappropriately to turn a profit. Given the literal line to purchase these latest additions, it appears that even the higher mount price is no deterrent on that front.
Wherever it is that Blizzard thinks they're going, it doesn't look like anything us bloggers do or don't say is going to slow them down any.