Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sticky Situation

there's a huge divide between those of the pet collecting community. the disagreement? for or against blizzard's new movement into "pay-to-pet" services.

this article, written by wow insider's Mike Schramm, explains (very well might i add) the idea and pro's/con's of "pay-to-pet" services or microtransactions.

my two cents on the matter is that blizzard should take some steps to make sure that both sides of the argument are acknowledged and taken care of.

yes, i agree that paying even more real money to acquire vanity pets is pretty silly. but hey, that's why they're VANITY items. it's a choice, and there's no real impact on the game (even achievements) if you do or don't buy them.

i've avoided buying the pets being sold on ebay for such a long time now. i don't need them, and blizzard has enough means for income without me buying a bunch of trading cards.

so what's the difference between the blizzard's store two newest pets and the tcg, invite only, blizzcon, etc pets? the things that stand out are:
  1. price
  2. quality
  3. where the proceeds are going
compared to many other pets that i've checked out, $10 is an absolute steal. and you are getting your money's worth too. these pets are animated and you can interact with them/they interact with the environment around you. it's not as if blizzard's asking for an arm and a leg for a pet that does absolutely nothing and who's graphics are completely undesirable.

of course this does upset a good portion of the community, especially those that cannot afford such AMAZING pets. is it fair that only those who have the means can have the perks? below is my solution for this.

let's not forget the make a wish foundation. many are claiming that the donation blizzard is making from the profits of one of the pets is just a cover up and blizzard is still selling out.

well that's just it. let me remind you that blizzard has plenty of ways to support the company financially. the tcg pets? if you don't buy them, no one wins or loses.

however, the make a wish foundation isn't as self-sustained as blizzard is. being a charity, the foundation relies on donations. no donations means no charity, which means a great many suffering children will never get a wish granted before they die.

blizzard's donation isn't a massive, noble peace prize winning one, but it's a start. and one that i do not oppose or hold a grudge against. should they maintain this frame of mind where the proceeds of pay-to-pet items do go to a non-profit charity, how can anyone say that they blizzard is only doing it for the money?

many will still disagree with my reasoning for approving the lil' kt and pandaren monk, and i can understand why. it leaves out those who can't or refuse to spend more money on a game. pay-to-pet only makes blizzard appear money-hungry and greedy. as if we're not already paying a lot to enjoy the vanities of the game, they ask for more, right? (this is where my two cents heads into the "blizzard needs to be cautious and tread lightly" speech.)

blizzard needs to consider and do the following to avoid a riot from the pet community:
  1. donate some or all of the pet proceeds to non-profit charities
  2. keep the blizzard store vanity pets relatively cheap
  3. maintain current and future in-game pets that do not require more real life money
if blizzard wants to counter the sentiment that they are nothing more than a gaming company turn greedy and prove those with this mentality wrong, the donations to non-profit charities is a good place to begin.

how many people would still be opposed to the blizzard store pets if EVERY single pet sold there meant some money was heading to a non-profit organization? HOW could one oppose donating money to a non-profit organization period (even if it's through blizzard and co.)?

the price to pay for pets should not be a steep one. yes, they may be vanity items (aka: a choice), but one still hopes for them to sell well and one hopes to be able to distribute them to as many collectors as possible. keeping them cheap ($10 or less is a good price imo) will help meet both those goals. as i mentioned before, many don't have the luxury of a huge amount of extra cash or income to pay for items that make the game fun for them. if the pets stay cheap, there's a higher chance people can either save up or make a small splurge and buy them.

and last but not least (and this is the most important note for blizzard in regards to the microtransaction movement), it's great that the blizzard store pets as well as tcg, blizzcon, invitation only, ect pets are so detailed and unique, but what about the current/future in-game pets that require no extra payment in order to obtain? because we don't have to pay, does that mean the quality of some pets doesn't have to be as high?

a balance needs to be kept. the quality of in game companions vs. pets you need to pay extra for should eventually even out. in other words, yes, there's that amazing tcg pet that has excellent graphics and is programmed to be animated enough to keep it interesting. oh, but there's also that free in-game pet that's equally as animated and graphically pleasing.

in a win win situation those paying for vanity pets will receive a nifty pet, but those unable to afford to pay will also have that same opportunity (with a different pet) in-game. neither side can complain that xyz was made unavailable to them for abc reasons, since both sides will be offered a similarly rated item. leave no one (or less people) out and there will be fewer outcries.

there's absolutely no way that blizzard can make everyone happy, and trying will only get them stuck in quicksand. to avoid sinking, blizzard really must tread lightly. i really do hope they consider and address all options as well as all sides of the argument. at the very least, give everyone a compromise so we can all meet in the middle where the environment is less treacherous.
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Perks N Peeves by Quintessence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.