Buying the Sparkle Pony is buying gold

There's been lots of buzz lately about Blizzard's sparkle pony that is buyable with real money, about the moral implications of paying for in-game items, whether it's a slippery slope, etc. Most of the opinions I've read have been along the lines of "Just like the Pandaren Monk, it's not an actual benefit or advantage, so it's okay. It's just for fun."

Personally, I think it's WAY different than the Pandaren Monk. Being a vanity pet, the monk is fun but ultimately meaningless. But the Celestial Steed flat-out saves you gold. Granted, it doesn't seem like a large amount, but over the weekend I rolled a Death Knight on a new server, and am currently looking up at the steep price of 250 gold for flight training plus an additional 50 gold for an actual flying mount. When your total server wealth is ~45 gold, saving 50g on the mount is significant savings. I considered buying the mount not because I love the model (I think it's okay but not great) but for the convenience and gold it would save me. In other words, for the in-game, tangible benefits. Not a good thing.

So is there a line between buying gold, and buying something that normally would have cost you gold? Maybe we'll be able to buy full bank bag slots, that's always useful. Or guild bank tabs. Free repairs for life for the low cost of $25? Redeemable coupons for "free" talent point resets? The possibilities are endless!

Still, $25 for 50g in-game is pretty steep. Where's Susan Express when you need her?

6 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    You know, Rades, that's a pretty good point, and one I hadn't considered. Well, I sort of considered it, under the auspices of "Nah, I'd rather choose my own mounts and pay the gold than have to use the same one and not pay for it."

    But of course it applies in the opposite case. Hmm. Sparkles for thought...

    April 20, 2010 at 9:57 AM

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    Chris Anthony

    Interesting perspective. They could remedy this easily, though: either set a toggle on the Celestial Steed so that you had to have at least one other mount of the appropriate riding level to be able to use it (in other words, even if I have 300 Riding, if I don't have a flying mount my Celestial Steed won't fly), or change the Riding skill so that it grants an extremely basic and relatively undesirable mount (Gray Nag for Alliance at 75 Riding and Elderly Worg for Horde, for example). Either way, people who buy the Celestial Steed wouldn't be getting a material benefit from the purchase.

    That said, this is nothing new. The Spectral Tiger TCG card gave the same material benefit at the epic-ground level. That the Celestial Steed is available from the Blizzard store just takes the booster-pack randomness and/or eBay out of the equation.

    April 20, 2010 at 10:32 AM

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    Very true Chris, there's a number of simple solutions Blizz could implement if they were so inclined. I've often found the separate riding skill / mounts a little clunky, and in fact once scraped together just enough to buy level 20 riding only to then realize I didn't have enough for the mount - a cruel twist of fate.

    I do disagree about the Spectral Tiger TCG mount though - officially, it's a reward, a rarespawn if you will, to the people who also play the card game, and it's exclusive and limited. It's a prize, not a purchase. Now yes, you can simply buy it off eBay, but now that's an unofficial source, which is a whole different ballgame.

    Basically what I mean is this: Blizzard can say of the spectral mount that it was intended to be a prize, not a purchase. What people do with it, well that's their prerogative. They can't say this about the Celestial Steed.

    PS: wtb elderly worg pst

    April 20, 2010 at 11:39 AM

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    I don't see it as something detrimental to the economy or to WOW players.

    The significant difference between the idea of buying this (which saves gold) and buying gold is the credibility of the source. Blizzard has the ability to create things out of thin air, Susan does not. She steals it from the poor to make the rich richer.

    With that said, essentially it is no different than people buying a whole new account to earn the Zhevra on their main account.

    All the same, there are other things I would be more concerned with spending $25 on like a race change to an undead hunter.

    April 20, 2010 at 6:12 PM

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    Chris Anthony

    Rades, I was a slow leveler for a long time, in part because I had a lot of characters. When my first character got to 35 (an undead priest), I saved up and bought her a Skeletal Horse. A week later, Blizzard released the notes for the patch that inverted riding costs and mount costs (so that riding was expensive and mounts were cheap). I hadn't yet reached 40 when the patch hit. So I was in the unusual position of having the (basic) mount but being unable to afford the training...

    I don't think that's an accurate way to look at the TCG card. Way back at the dawn of CCGs, yes, rare cards were rewards for people who played the game (and even then it wasn't a given; think about Veruca Salt's father in _Charlie and the Chocolate Factory_). These days, though, I think it's safe to say that the market for the rare Spectral Tiger card isn't the kid who's playing the TCG and discovers one accidentally, it's the adult who's willing to spend thousands of dollars on booster packs in order to get one for his in-game characters. It would be disingenuous for Blizzard to pretend that they're not aware of and catering to this trend, and so they never have.

    As for rarity - there's no limit to the number of Spectral Tiger cards that Blizzard can print, and they could just as arbitrarily limit the number of Celestial Steeds sold (in fact, many people thought they had at first). Blizzard has chosen to make the Spectral Tiger limited and the Celestial Steed unlimited, but that's not inherent in the items - it's a choice made by Blizzard.

    April 21, 2010 at 5:08 AM

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    I feel the same freakin way about this man, it REALLY sucks, you should check out my writeup about it with multiboxers, its insane!

    April 26, 2010 at 11:47 AM