Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

It’s not Blizzard, it’s You

Surely you’ve heard about That Retarded Horse, the new mount sold in Blizzard’s cash shop for World of Warcraft. For $25 (or €20) you get a purely cosmetic in-game pegasus mount – if you manage to make it through the queues that have reportedly been building in the online shop. Like Ixobelle (and many others) I find this newest money-grabbing scheme hilarious – but I really can’t blame Blizzard for it at all.

I'd rather have a nice dinner. Or go to the movies twice (in 3D!). Or, you know, give those $25 to someone in need.

First of all, no harm, no foul. The mount is purely cosmetic and spending those $25 doesn’t give any advantage within the game. Scott “Lum the Mad” Jennings claims that the horse blurs the line between purely cosmetic items and buying in-game power but I really can’t see any advantage whatsoever to having the mount. Unlike such moves as pricing Starcraft 2 at $60 and translating that price into Euros 1:1, the sale of this mount only has negative impact on those stupid enough to buy it. The rest of us might actually see benefits from these shenanigans. If Blizzactivison realizes that they can milk a certain part of their customer base for money this easily, maybe, just maybe, us other customers will be spared further increases in the price of games. Selling a lot of games relatively cheap and then selling additional fluff to less-than-clever players to make up for the low margin on the box sales seems like a good idea.

Even if our friends over at Blizzactivision don’t go that far (and the announcement of the Starcraft II collectors edition alludes to that), we don’t lose anything. In the worst case scenario, nothing changes. In the best cases we’ll see more money invested in games and those games sold for less money. Sure, there’s no such thing as free lunch – but the people who are paying for it are those who are stupid (or rich) enough to buy the horse in the first place. I don’t mind that at all.

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