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Micro Mini Mayhem

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Earlier this month, Blizzard announced their Pet Store.

Twitter exploded, blogs went nuts. Some people hated it, some loved it and raged at those hating it. Calm discussions were few and far between.

It wasn't pretty.

Now that the dust has settled, it's time for me to chime in.

To begin with, I have absolutely no problem with the concept of the store. Instead, my issue is with the pricing.

If you feel that $10 is a good price for a cosmetic addition to your character, then that's great. I'm sure you'll be very pleased with your purchase.

While I am more than able to afford the $10, I don't feel that a purely cosmetic upgrade is worth that price.

$5 for extra missions and gameplay in Mass Effect? Sign me up.
A couple bucks for a Guitar Hero song? No problem.
$10 for extra maps in Halo or Call of Duty? A bit more than I'm willing to pay, but a fair price, given the amount of development needed.

How do these differ from the mini-pets? The all do something, add content to the game. To me, that makes them more worth the price.

So, what would I consider a good price for these pets? Let's look at some other online games that offer similar services:

$10 gets you a large selection of costume pieces, as well as emotes and powers in City of Heroes.
Free Realms offers a huge shop, with costumes, pets and weapons that run anywhere from $1-$5.
Even World of Warcraft, itself has offered transactions already, costing up to $30.

The thing that sets these transactions apart from the WoW mini-pets, is there's a balance between offsetting production costs and still offering a fair, but profitable price. Those WoW transfers cannot be a simple thing to get right. That's a lot of tech to manage.

Seriously, how much did it cost Blizzard to create each of these pets? 3 guys working 2 weeks? Granted, they're AWESOME pets and do far more than just stand there. Let's assume 10% of WoW's vaunted 10 million players purchase a single pet. That's $10 million. Let's say half of those are Pandarens, which gives half to charity. That's still $7.5 million. For, what, a couple hundred thousand dollars of investment, between development and distribution? Something tells me that profit number is MUCH higher, though.

One argument I'd like to shoot down is the loot cards. "I spent hundreds of dollars getting my Spectral Tiger, $10 for a panda is nothing."

No, you did not spend hundreds of dollars on a mount. If so, UR DOIN IT RONG. You spent hundreds of dollars on trading cards, the mount is a BONUS. I bought crap-tons of those things. Why? Because I liked collecting them. The in-game items were nice (I LOVE my turtle), but not the reason I bought them. $3.99 is the market price for a Booster Pack for a Trading Card Game. The WoW TCG is an amazing value at that price, offering roughly DOUBLE the amount of cards compared to other games.

That, right there, is my main issue with the pet pricing. Blizzard has shown in the past to give amazing value for its products. They released content updates for Diablo II almost a full decade after its release. WoW has received several expansions worth of content, while only charging for two. If they were charging half the price for the pets, I think they could sell more than double the amount. In addition to making more money, Blizzard would be staying true to their business philosophy.

Does the recent Activision merger have something to do with this? I despise Activision enough to believe it's a definite possibility.

Jaedia said...
November 17, 2009 at 4:27 PM  

The worst part about the pricing is the comparison between US and EU pricing. The pets in the EU are 10 Euros, or £9. This is not a fair exchange >.>

Roger said...
November 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM  

Echoes my thoughts exactly.

The pricing of these pets is absolutely ridiculous.

Samodean said...
November 18, 2009 at 5:19 PM  

@Jaedia: Yeah, this seems to be becoming a trend. I feel for you.

@Roger: I wouldn't say "ridiculous" but, yes, out of line.

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