Thursday, May 9, 2013

Holiday Wild Pets: Terrific or Terrible Idea?

Currently all major in-game holidays have pets associated with them. From Pilgrim's Bounty's Plump Turkey to Love is in the Air's Peddlefeet and Toxic Wasteling, each one has at least one corresponding pet. Sidenote: I say "major holiday" because there are some events such as Day of the Dead, Pirates' Day and the Harvest Festival that are fairly short and/or don't have much to do/collect during them.

Many collectors, old and new, have managed to obtain most if not all these pets, though. After everything's been collected and all achievements completed, what's to do after that? Blizzard could just add more pets to each holiday, but with the implementation of Pet Battles, there is another idea that might be more interesting than simply adding another vendor or holiday boss-dropped companion. As stated in the linked Tweet, capturable wild pets that only spawn during holidays. Think of all the possibilities! It would be a great way to finally introduce those pink bunnies for Noblegarden. ;)

Now, if wild pets for specific holidays becomes a thing, it could go either very well or turn into a nightmare for collectors. I'm a huge critic of limited-time pets, as it's somewhat punishing for those that don't actually have the time and collectors in general. There's a lot of stress and anxiety, during certain holidays, due to many overbearing factors that collectors have to deal with. So if wild pets is the next step, there should be some things to consider in order to keep things balanced.

My biggest issue with holiday pets is that collectors must contend with multiple factors for the sake of "rarity" (not the quality of the pet, but in terms of how difficult/exclusive a pet is). Namely RNG, low droprates, limited attempts, and the pets being around for a limited time. The latter two aren't huge issues these days since most holiday companions are now cageable and account-wide. (It's still pretty rough for those who don't have the means to utilize alts and extra gold, such as new players.)

In previous situations where holiday pets were involved, it was great if you got lucky on your first few attempts at acquiring said pet, but it was pretty devastating if the RNG gods weren't in your favor. It was painful to hear about others finding nothing but dissapointment day after day. With the clock ticking down, it was discouraging to try but still come up empty handed without so much as a consolation prize.

That being said, consider these factors being applied to wild pets, pets that CAN'T be traded. The result would definitely be frustration and headache.

Some things wouldn't apply obviously, such as droprates and limited attempts. But imagine being able to find and battle only one holiday pet per day. It doesn't sound all that pleasant right? Or maybe it seems ok because you can just capture the first one you find and upgrade it with a Battle-Stone. Keep in mind that we're talking about wild pets, though, and there's bound to be loads of competition. These will be in great demand if there are only limited spawns throughout the duration of the event. It could get pretty infuriating if the spawn-rates are too low or too few. Add on top of that the fact that they'll only be around for a week or so. It sounds less and less pleasant the more you think about it.

It's understandable that Blizzard would like to keep some pets "rare", but there has to be a balance between rarity and actual availability. When collectors face so many factors (and have little to no control over any of them), the fun starts to melt away and turn into irritation. A great example of this is the Minfernal hunt, and I think this Tweet says it all.
"..getting a Minfernal was not very fun. I just wanted it cause it looked cool. Not cause it was rare."
Not all collectors feel this way, but there are many who do share the same sentiment towards certain pets. That being said, a compromise between rarity and actual availability should always be considered. Especially in the case of wild holiday pets IF they are ever implemented. Limited duration/chances can already be frustrating for both those that don't have the time and those that do, but if even more factors are added for the sake of just "rarity", the fun is lost for many players.

There are probably many ways developers can implement holiday-only wild pets, and my hope is that if they choose to do so, they pick a system that's a bit more forgiving than the previous holiday-pet model. If there are limited attempts, perhaps increase the spawn/droprate. If there are limited spawns/drops, then maybe allow players to find them in many areas. The bad luck protection mechanic is being released soon, so somewhere in there might also be an idea to help players feel as though they are actually working towards their goal, rather than feeling unproductive.

Of course there's also the "replayability" factor when it comes to reoccurring in-game events, which is something that we, as collectors, need to keep in mind. To play devil's advocate, if everyone managed to capture a holiday-pet the moment it was released, would Blizzard need to keep implementing a new one each year (to each holiday) to keep us interested? That sounds pretty unreasonable when you think about how low a priority pets, pet battles, and pet collecting must be on Blizzard's "to-do" list.

So in the end it's all about compromise. Compromise between aspects of the game (rarity and fun) and between players and developers. If Blizzard hears us out and takes into consideration our issues, we must also keep in mind there is more to it than what meets the eye.

It's hard to say what will be coming in the future, and the whole holiday wild pets idea may never see a live server. The concept sounds fun, but if a good balance can't be found, I'd rather not see it be implemented at all. It's all about finding the sweet spot between gameplay and fun (even if "fun" is a subjective term). If anything, I hope all sides are taken into consideration, and even if special event wild pets are never implemented, the idea of compromise should still be applied for other features.


  1. Holiday pets would be an awesome idea... most holidays are atleast a week long, giving collectors plenty of time to catch atleast a poor or common quality version of the pet then using a stone to upgrade it to rare. Since pets now respawn after forefiting a match, it makes CRZ a little easier to deal with.

    1. @Liz: I definitely would love to see some holiday wild pets, as long as they were implemented in a fair way. :D

  2. I think the way to go is doing something like the Sumprush Event. The tokens, which have been implemented with various holidays already, can be used to purchase a box/whistle/summon stone that spawns zone or area wide wild pets to battle.

    Or have something that if you reach the end of a quest chain, it unlocks an item that allows you to find/see the pets :) With the acquisition of said item possibly ensuring new spawns.

    Many possibilities!

    1. @Pukanini: Yea, there are so many ways they can implement holiday wild pets, but I hope that whichever way they choose, it's balanced enough to be fun.


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