Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughts On the Guardian Cub - Part 2

This is the second half of my original post about the Guardian Cub. All thoughts and views on the matter are solely my own and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of any community, organization or affiliation I may be apart of.

Justifying the Sale In General
Nevermind the cost vs use issue of the Guardian Cub. Let's talk about what the sale of this pet means in general for the direction of this game.

In the past Blizzard has stated that they will not sell gold or other game-changing items (such as PVE or PVP gear) that would give players a gameplay advantage over others. Many are speaking out about the "slippery slope" in which Blizzard is walking upon, and how this pet is just another sign of a downward spiral the game is falling into. What they mean is that the sale of this pet is pretty much Blizzard giving the ok to buy gold (as long as it's from Blizzard); spend real life cash on an item that you profit from in-game by selling it to someone else.

If you haven't read WowInsider's 'Gold Capped' article about the Guardian Cub or their 'Lawbringer' column on the matter, I recommend doing so. Both posts explain how this is NOT the first instance where Blizzard has pretty much said, 'It's ok if you make a profit (in-game) from this.' The articles also show us how this move on Blizzard's part is a positive direction for the game economy, since it puts gold farmers/sellers in direct competition with Blizzard itself. Anyone who plays this game knows just how detrimental and destructive gold farmers and sellers are in general, so any action taken to potentially put them out of business or slow them down should be welcomed.

This is the main reason why I can't confidently say that I'd prefer that this pet was not sold as is. Much of what both writers say is logical and true. The "slippery slope" is just something that seems inevitable, and rather than looking at it as a negative thing, I prefer to see it as just another change. The world is not a static place and neither is this game. It needs to evolve and adapt to survive, and if heading towards a "free to play" model is what it takes, then who are we to stop Blizzard from doing just that? The alternative would be that the game may eventually just become outdated and unsustainable under Blizzard's definitions, and then we wouldn't have any MMO to play period.

At the same time, I do agree with many that the way Blizzard is handling this and the Guardian Cub's release could be refined and thought out better. All new additions to the game are normally received with knee-jerk reactions and some hostility/objection, but in time most come to accept it. That doesn't mean Blizzard should ignore the pleas and cries of those who see serious flaw with this pet's current release plan. I would still recommend that the price be closely re-examined and perhaps altered to help slowly integrate the idea behind the Guardian Cub to those who are more resisting of the notion than others. A second version that is BoA and more in line with the previously released PetStore companions is also a great way to help ease the community into a gradual transition.

I can't say for sure how this pet will impact the game in the long run, and I still think there is some room for conversation, debate, and possible change before the release of this pet. If it is released as is, without any price or usage change, and no other version of it is released, will I be purchasing one? Most likely, yes. Again, part of me does not object to its release while another part would prefer to see a resolution and compromise for those who are less likely to be as understanding. Unless I'm convinced otherwise, I'll continue to maintain my 'on the fence' point of view until more information is gathered and examined.

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