Just figured I would take a quick break from NaNoWriMo to throw in my two cents worth on the pet store.
Yep, the same damn thing everyone else is talking about.
I see people screaming about how selling an in game pet for real dollars is game breaking.
I see people complaining about various other account services as well, faction transfers and PvE – PvP realm transfers chief among the complaints.
I have read about how this is a horribly slippery slope. Apparently we will wake up one day and find them selling conquest badges for real money or something.
I have also read a few articles where the authors were extremely unconcerned. essentially saying “they are just pets, and pets have been for sale for a while. Just look on ebay.”
I suppose my take on all this is a little different.
I don’t see it as a way to separate the haves and the have-nots within the game, although to some extent it will. I also don’t see it as some kind of slippery slope that Blizzard might go sliding headlong down at any moment. I see all the changes that have been coming in the last six months or so as a window into where the future of WoW lies.
Since my brain is mush from the whole “Write a novel in 30 days while simultaneously doing everything else life calls on me to do” thing so this might come out a bit disjointed. Sorry about that.
We are all fantasy gamers here right? Well, lets take a walk down fantasy lane. Pretend for a while that you are an executive for a company. We will call them Blizz because I am too damn tired to make up a cutesy name right now.
You have this game, it is literally the cash cow for your business.
Just like a farmer you will tend to that cash cow as best you can. As a farmer your job would be to milk that cow for as much as you can without causing it to dry up. After all if it goes dry you are hosed, but you don’t want to leave any milk there that you should have taken.
Now as this executive you know about the next generation MMO, the one you hope will turn out to be the next cash cow. The last one is getting a bit long in the tooth after all. Now you have a few problems.
You don’t want to compete with yourself for subscribers.
You don’t want to just turn off the old game, after all there is money to be made there yet.
You have promised all along that you would never allow out of game purchases to give an in game advantage (a promise artfully broken by the refer-an-alt program, but meh.)
The logical thing to do would be to simply convert you existing game from a subscription model to a microtransaction / free to play model. If you could pull that off you could run the new one on a subscription model without forcing your customers to choose.
Another advantage would be in having competition in the microtrasaction MMO market, something you sorely lack at the moment. After all, you don’t make games to make friends, it’s a business. The object of business is to make profit, thats simply the way it works.
Ideally you would figure out a way for players of your old game to get a bit of a leg up in the new one. Perhaps by implementing a points system for doing tasks within the game. This would be a lot easier to implement if we force them to tie all their games together under one login, we should do that as early as possible to work out the bugs.
Let the points earned in the old game be useless there and only spreadable in the new one (selling only vanity stuff or BOA starter gear of course). That way people from your old game would feel like they had money in their pockets for the new one, what better reason to try it out.
Now, knowing that a straight shift would scare some subscribers away you come up with a long-term plan. Start integrating the microtransaction model into the game. Proceed very slowly and cautiosly, until by the time your new game is ready all the infrastructure is in place.
Once the new game is released you can then announce that you are graciously going to make the old game free to play, while leaving the microtrasactions in place to still make a profit. Most of those that prefer the subscription model will move anyway, so you can always start selling epics later.
Sitting back you think to yourself, Good plan.
Lets do that, we’ll start with pets.
Everyone loves pets.