World of Warcraft – Return of the Pet Store
By Joshua Temblett (Dontkillmydreams), OnRPG Journalist
“Why isn’t World of Warcraft free?
The fee is used to support the costs associated with the high-quality levels of service, support, and ongoing content creation that go into World of Warcraft.” Source: World of Warcraft Official Website FAQ
On the 15th April, 2010, it was announced by Blizzard that the pet store had been updated. The soft sounding Pet Store has now evolved from selling small, yet expensive, pets to selling incredibly expensive in-game mounts. In my article World of Warcraft: Cash Shop Worries, which was posted on December 24th, I talked about the (then) recently added Pet Store, and the problems surrounding it. Towards the end of the article I wrote “After all it may just be pets now but later it might be something bigger and better.” Unfortunately I was right.
My problem with the “Pet Store” is that you’re already paying a monthly fee for World of Warcraft and, as it’s stated in the above quote, that monthly fee goes toward “ongoing content creation”. This means that one of the reasons you pay for WoW every month is for new content. However, the pets and the recently added mount in the Pet Store are also part of “ongoing content creation”. In other words, this too is new content that is created for World of Warcraft.
So why on earth do gamers have to pay for items in the “Pet Store”? In fact, why is there even a “Pet Store”? It’s simply not morally justifiable when you’re already paying an all-inclusive monthly fee. The even more disgusting thing is that people are actually buying it. Why would you pay $25 for a mount? For that $25 you could buy a plethora of awesome games, such as the incredibly addictive Nintendo DS game Ninja Town or the wonderful LittleBigPlanet.
Blizzard shouldn’t be providing a cash shop in the first place, but you’ve got to show them that you’re not going to fall for these tricks, and not purchase any content that is available on there. You, as the consumer, control what happens next. That’s the joy of a free market! If you don’t want Blizzard to go further, and trust me they will if you support them, then you’ve got to make sure that you don’t go near the cash shop.
Celestial Steed mount
Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened. Instead of people completely rejecting the idea of the “Pet Store”, they have openly accepted it. On the day the “Celestial Steed” was released, there was a queue to buy it. That’s right; there were 140,000 people queuing, to buy an incredibly expensive virtual horse, which they are theoretically entitled to have for free. Really?
It’s also hilarious to see the reasons why people have accepted this blatant rip off. I’ve seen comments like: “What people forget is that Blizzard is a business. They are not a dream manufacturer operating a not for profit system, neither are they (or Kotick) the devil. Blizzard will go for whatever’s profitable and that’s all there is to that. That’s why you can now transfer to PVP servers, race change, faction change, etc.” (a comment posted on WoW.com). What?! Yes, Blizzard is a business, I’m glad you understand this. What the faithful commenter doesn’t seem to understand is that Blizzard is already making money! They’re not just making a small amount of money; they are making $180,000,000 a month from the World of Warcraft monthly subscription fees! This is more money than the vast majority of us will see in our whole lifetime! That is more than enough to support any server costs, any future content development, and certainly more than enough to pay the staff that moderate/look after the game. They run a perfectly viable business. In fact the cynical side of me says that the money gathered from the “Pet Store” is most likely just going into some executive’s bonus.
Let’s have another look at some more comments: “It doesn’t affect you if I get the mount.” Sorry, but yes it does. You may not think it, but if you buy the mount then Blizzard is going to think it’s okay to charge you for new items in the future, despite the fact you’re already paying for content to be added to the game. Also, this particular mount may not affect game balance; however that’s not the problem, it’s the principle behind buying the mount. If you pay a monthly fee, then there should not be a cash shop anywhere in sight. That also applies to Champions Online.
Should you buy the mount then? It’s up to you. If you are considering it, then you certainly shouldn’t be taking this purchase lightly. It’s a lot of money, money that you’ve probably worked very hard for.
I hope this article has given you a lot of things to think about and consider. I personally don’t think that the Pay-2-Play and the Cash Shop payment methods should ever go hand in hand, as I thoroughly believe that someday it will destroy the MMORPG genre as at some point, people are just going to get fed up with all of the money grabbing . That’s why I beg you to at least consider the purchase, before you go through with it. So make your choice wisely, fellow reader, but always remember: no matter what choice you make, it will always have a consequence.