The WoW Twitterverse and Blogosphere (so astronomical!) were all a flutter yesterday afternoon with news of Blizzard’s latest business venture: A real-money store for in-game vanity pets. The headline over at WoW.com reads: Blizzard launches real money in-game pet store. Before reading it all I interpreted “in-game” to refer to the store itself, and was feeling very annoyed at this turn of events. But after fully reading the article and Blizzard’s press release on it, I softened when I realized that we would not after all be strolling up to Breanni in Dalaran and making in game transactions with her that used real money. Just like the Collector’s Editions and the BlizzCon streaming purchases, the transactions for this new pet store take place entirely out of the game, and the pets you buy will be mailed to each of your characters on the account you bought them with.
I’m fine with it. I admit, I bought the Collector’s Edition of WOTLK solely to get the pet. Frosty makes a great companion for my Death Knight, and rounds out Fenwick’s growing collection, getting her closer to the Lil’ Game Hunter achievement. I’m all about pet collecting. I also bought the BlizzCon streaming service because it came with Grunty the Murloc, though watching BlizzCon from the comfort of my home made it a great buy.
But I doubt I’ll buy one of these pets. The value just isn’t there for me. What am I showing off when I whip one of these out? That I spent $10? I know that’s essentially the same thing as the Collector’s Edition pet, and I’m a little embarrassed to have spent the money on it, but…it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing! I HAD to have it. I caved. And I’m glad I did. Frosty feels special.
I share a lot of players queasiness about this new store, and I think it has to do with slippery slope mentality. What if this catches on, and they start offering vanity clothes, pets with amazing animations, bigger better picnic baskets? Will I be left out in the dust if I don’t buy into it?
Where I’m a tad conflicted is with the Pandaren Monk pet. If you buy this pet before Dec. 31, $5 goes to Blizzard, and $5 goes the Make-a-wish foundation. I feel strongly about charitable giving, and I think that if we can afford $15/month and systems to play this game on, we can afford to give a little now and then. But why the even split? If they put all $10 towards the charity, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. It would be my new favorite pet. Maybe I’d even do it if they gave $9 and kept a dollar for themselves. But $5? For a company that’s doing great financially? Just seems kinda….cheap. Say 100,000 people buy it. Blizz gets $500,000. As a designer and animator, I appreciate that a lot of work goes into creating a unique pet like this. But it didn’t cost anywhere near $500,000. And why is the charity only until Dec. 31? Why not keep it up? I’m really curious where they’ll go with for-charity pets. Until then, I’m running with my old school Vampiric Batling. And Siamese Cat. And Wolpert…oh you get the idea.