Blizzard has already given us a small preview of the guidelines that will be in place when it comes to trading/selling companions in MoP, but there are still questions about certain pets. Specifically will the TCG, achievement, and no-longer readily available pets be tradable? There's also the more controversial topic that questions the trade/sale of PetStore companions.
While there is some general agreement between most pet collectors when it comes to the idea of trading and selling pets, there are varying opinions about the specifics of which pets should be tradable and which should remain completely soulbound.
Forgive me if this post is a jumble of thoughts that might be somewhat disjointed and even possibly contradictory. I'm still working out my views on the idea of trading and selling pets in general. The fact that the system is still a work in progress and not finalized also adds to my conflicted and incomplete opinions. More after the jump.
CE and Exclusive Pets
Currently, the only thing that I have no qualms or objections to is Blizzard's design that will make Collector's Edition companions and event exclusive pets such as the Blizzcon gifts non-tradable. To me, this is a no-brainer. I must admit that if given the opportunity, I wouldn't turn down the offer of the CE pets or a Murky and Mini Tyrael (for the right price), but I'm not against Blizzard's current plan to make these pets non-tradable in MoP.
Allowing these very exclusive pets to be sold back and forth is just asking for drama. The way things are set up on the beta at the moment is that you will lose the pet you put into a cage and sell off. If Blizzard discontinues mailing the companions to newly created characters, this will mean those that sell their Blizzcon pets and the like will have lost them completely. That just seems heartbreaking at the least, and enraging at the worst due to the high RL price paid for these pets. And even if Blizzard continues to mail these pets to future toons, problems with "rarity" will pop up and those that have the event exclusive and CE pets will feel the extra money paid was just not worth it.
It's just a big can of worms that would be best avoided if possible. Considering the special nature of these extraordinary pets, being unable to trade CE pets and event exclusive companions seems like the lesser of two evils here, and it's not as though players are losing anything.
Although Blizzard seems to have come to a decision on the aforementioned companions, pet collectors are still in the dark about TCG, achievement and no-longer readily available pets (such as the Spirit of Competition). Will they be tradable in MoP as well? SHOULD we be able to sell and trade them?
I'm still uncertain how I feel about these three categories of pets.
I do feel somewhat strongly that achievement pets should not be tradable as it would negate the requirement to actually earn the achievement on a character. It just seems a bit disheartening that these awesome rewards would suddenly turn into companions that one can simply give away. Achievements are meant to be striven for, and showcases a player's hard work and efforts. The rewards that come from them also reflect this, so simply buying a Celestial Dragon without actually having earned the 150 pets collected achievement is a pretty cheap way of doing things.
Not to mention the rarity of the achievement rewards would drop like a rock. Buy Nuts from the AH, but oh, you've just hit the collect 100 pets achievement and received a second Nuts in the mail. Sell the second one! I'm pretty sure this is not what Blizzard intended to happen with these unique companions when they were first implemented.
The TCG pets are more of a coin toss for me. On one hand players pay good RL money for some of those pets and being able to trade/sell them in-game might fall under the same unsavory idea of selling a high RL priced CE pet. Not to mention trading and selling the TCG companions would mean Blizzard is pretty much ok'ing a non-Blizzard sanctioned gold sale, as many of these pets are normally acquired through purchasing the cards from Ebay and other online card stores. Unlike the official PetStore companions, Blizzard really doesn't have any control or say over independent card stores that sell the loot cards.
Buying a loot card for RL money and then selling the pet in-game for gold is essentially buying gold. I realize that there are TCG loot cards that already behave in this manner, but that was intentionally implemented by Blizzard. Many of the older companions were NOT intended to be traded or sold in-game, which is where things get hairy and the ToS comes into question.
That's just one side of the coin, though.
On the other side, there's the fact that allowing the trade/sale of TCG pets for gold would make many collectors very happy. Not everyone has the means to purchase the loot cards for RL money, but may have plenty of in-game currency to buy a caged TCG pet. The rarity would still remain intact since the TCG pets are mailed to only one character for each loot code redeemed. So that shouldn't be an issue for Blizzard. In the end, it will be up to Blizzard to decide how they want to handle these unique items.
Last but not least, the PetStore companions. These little ones are a hot topic, and I don't think there's going to be a general consensus about them any time soon.
Blizzard has already made a statement that the PetStore companions WILL be tradable in MoP. Some players are quite pleased, while others are not. For me, it all depends on the overall implementation of trading, adding, and removing pets from your account wide collection.
If Blizzard continues to mail future characters the PetStore pets, as they currently do, this will mean an over abundance of these companions in the AH. Sold your Gryphon Hatchling? No worries! Just make a new toon and another one will be mailed to you. The rarity of these pets will drop, and some players will feel the pets themselves will lose their value/appeal.
However, let's say Blizzard discontinues mailing newly created characters the PetStore pets since an account really only needs one version of the pet (to share account wide). This would mean purchasing a $10 PetStore companion would yield only ONE pet, rather than a constant source/stream of that particular pet. More collectors would probably feel the need to hang onto their PetStore pets than sell them if this is the case, but the option to sell them would still be there for those that aren't particularly attached to them or have the means to spend another $10 in the PetStore.
The main reason I think Blizzard is allowing the trade and sale of PetStore companions is because of the latter idea. It has the highest potential to bring in more money for Blizzard, while leaving it open ended for collectors. Sort of like a compromise.
Don't get me wrong, though. I have absolutely no idea if this is how things really will work out in MoP, but it's my best guess at the moment.
I can't say which I would prefer; being able to trade the PetStore companions or not being able to trade them. Making them more accessible to more players is a definite pet perk, but the question is at what cost? And just who would be ultimately paying the price and will it be worth it? Again, the answers will depend on how the final version of the pet trading system works in the expansion.
An Inconclusive Conclusion
I must sound like a broken record by now, but I feel compelled to remind everyone that it's still early and things could change. Because of this, I reserve my right to withhold a concrete opinion about many of the pet-related topics until I find out more details. That being said, though, there are some things I agree with or at least lean towards for now. The idea of trading and selling pets seems like a good one, but it will all come down to the specifics and how it's implemented. We'll just have to wait and see whether or not it's a success or a flop.