Everyone’s going insane over the new additions in the Blizzard Store. I’m going to talk about them too, but with a little spin on things. My topic may be slightly different from the usual complaints, but it’s also a bit more personal.
People who game with me know that I’m a collector. I like to play my games the way they’re meant to be played, but I’m also attracted to the little frivolities in my MMOs like holiday events and vanity pets. In fact, I think I may enjoy collecting special in-game items more then I like getting epic loot! As silly as it sounds, that’s what really gnawed at me when I left World of Warcraft — I didn’t miss the instances, the boss fights, or the purple gear…but I did miss my mini-pet collection. I always thought I’d go back to collecting them when I return to WoW once Cataclysm hits, but I don’t think I will anymore. I’ve lost the drive, because the Blizzard pet store has killed it for me.
While some people might think vanity pets are pointless, they weren’t for me. I put a lot of time into my collection, which numbered around 100 pets at the time of my departure about 6 months ago. It’s nowhere near complete, and I know there are some pets I’ll never be able to obtain, but I’m still quite proud of what I’ve managed to collect. I still like looking at my collection on my WarcraftPets.com page sometimes, because it’s full of so many cool stories and good memories from my time in WoW. My Phoenix Hatchling, for example, I got just days after the Magister’s Terrace instance first came out, because when it dropped my wonderful guildies all passed so I could have it, since they knew how much I liked vanity pets. Another example was my Magical Crawdad. I still remember the hours spent fishing in Terrokar Forest until that heart-stopping moment when I finally hooked the elusive Mr. Pinchy. And speaking of heart-stopping moments, nothing beats a good old-fashioned pet hunt. I hardly ever bought pets off the auction house, as I did all the farming myself — it’s how I got my Firefly, the Disgusting Oozling and the Azure Whelpling, among many others. It’s such a great feeling when you’ve killed what feels like your 1,145th mob and then you open up that loot window, and BAM! there it is!
It didn’t matter if the pet was a rep grind, random drop, quest-related or whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that obtaining each pet was a rewarding process, in some cases more than others. The best ones were always the toughest to get, and each of them was a challenge I couldn’t wait to tackle. I was bouncing up and down with excitement when I first heard that the Pandaren Monk pet would be added in-game, but was immediately disappointed when I found out it was to be sold in the online Blizzard store. I was already a little irked by the fact that certain pets were only available through the trading card game, but this just made it worse.
I still wanted to be able to collect as many pets as possible, but having to spend real-life money to make that happen just takes some of that exhilaration away. Not to mention Blizzard can potentially make hundreds of dollars off of pet collectors like me by simply adding more and more items to their pet store as time goes by. On that front, it doesn’t bode well at all — in just the last few months, in addition to the Pandaren Monk they’ve already added Lil’ K.T., the Gryphon Hatchling, the Wind Rider Cub and now Lil’ XT. Uh yeah, the price tags on these have definitely made me rethink my collection. I also can’t help but feel pain for any mount collectors out there. I mean, $25 a pop when it comes to the new Celestial Steed? Ouch.
Anyway, this isn’t a post whining about RMTs in MMORPGs. I’ve never had a problem with them, actually. In most cases, they are a choice; no one is forcing players to purchase anything and items like vanity pets are obviously not required to play the game. I still believe in this, but while I certainly have much better things to do with my cash than to drop $80+ on pretty pixels, not buying pets off the Blizzard store has less to do with a conscious choice but more to do with my increasingly waning interest in pet collecting. What’s the point now, when having to maintain an up-to-date collection involves shelling out real dollars? And somehow, I doubt I would continue my collection even if I happen to strike it rich and get to sleep on a huge pile of money every night.
The thrill of the hunt is dead and gone, now that the coolest pets are the easiest (and most boring) ones to get, with just a credit card and a few clicks of a mouse.