The third sign of the apocalyps?

November 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

Well the day has finally come.  You can now spend real world money and receive an item in game.  Sure there have been similar types of things in the past (e.g. the trading card game pets, or collectors edition of Wrath/BC), but those have all been indirect items received from spending real world money.  You buy the trading cards and you might get a pet card as a bonus.  You specifically buy the expansion, and just happen to get a pet included in it.  But now you can spend real money and directly receive on specific item in game.  This has caused quite the stir around the bloggosphere.  Elina over at the Pink Pigtail Inn has very strong opinions in opposition to this new feature.  Tobold isn’t surprised that this has happened at all.  There are plenty of others but I’ll spare you the link listing and actually get through my own view on this.

My initial response? I don’t give a rats arse about this.   Seriously, it makes absolutely no difference to me.  I’m not in the least bit surprised either.  World of Warcraft, like any other MMO is run by a corporation.  And that corporation, Blizzard, is out there to make money.  Despite the pedestal that some people like to place them on (‘other games might have micro transactions, but at least Blizzard is taking the high road!’), profit is their bottom line.  It’s true that they make a fantastic game and that they do a wonderful job of thinking about their customer base.  It does seem like for the most part they don’t do things just because it will make them money even if it’s bad for their player base.  I’m not saying they won’t do something just because it will make them money, but I am saying that they do a good job of taking the players into consideration before doing it.

Now one might say, ‘but Fizz, that’s exactly what they have just done!  They did this just for profit and it’s bad for the player base!’  Well I say that’s a bunch of nonsense and rigmarole.  Paid faction/race/(probably one day class)/appearance changes are clearly money driven, but I’m of the opinion that it’s a boon not a bane to players.  And as for the introduction of purchasable pets (with the removal of the TCG or collectors edition middleman)–it is neither a boon or a bane.  The fact is, it’s just a vanity item.  Some little pet is not going to create some huge differentiation between the haves and the have-nots.

One of the arguments out there is that the reason this is bad is because it’s a slippery slope.  ‘This will inevitably lead to Blizzard selling gold, gear, raid items, etc! And that’s not fair! It should be about player skill not wallet size! NERD RAGE! RAWR!’  Let me be blunt.  The slippery slope argument is typically a rather specious one.  I think there’s some fancy Latin term for this type of argument but I can’t think of it at the moment.  I think it’s something like post hoc ergo propeter hoc.  Actually I think that means one assumes that because one thing happened after another thing, it means the first thing caused the second. And that’s not the argument I’m going for…ok hmm…maybe there isn’t actually a fancy Latin phrase for it.  I do know that sometimes the slippery sl0pe argument is represented by the Camel’s Nose.  The Camel’s Nose is a metaphor that says, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”  It’s a non-sequitur argument.  There is no causal evidence to say that just because the camel sticks his nose in the tent, the rest of him will follow after.

Just because Blizzard has decided to sell two vanity items, does not mean that they will start selling gear/raid items/etc.  Right now it’s just another way for them to make money.  Just vanity pets.  Do I think they will stop with two pets?  No.  Do I really believe they will tumble down the slope and start charging for gear and so forth?  Not even a little.  And I stand by that prediction.  There is just not enough causal evidence to make the claim that they will.  Just because other games do it is hardly evidence they will.

Now, if it turns out that I am wrong, I promise to let everyone who disagrees with me comment and say, “I told you so, I told you so!”  Additionally, assuming the player backlash isn’t so high that Blizzard stops the practice, if they ever do start charging for things other than vanity items, that will be the end of my $15 a month.


“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”



PS: I should say that I make no plans to buy either of these pets.  I feel the same way about them as I do about the collectors edition or TCG pets.  I don’t feel like paying real money for a vanity item.  I mean if someone decided to gift it to me I wouldn’t send it back or anything…. But I sure as hell aint spending the money for it.

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