Blizzard has officially launched a micro-transaction shop for WoW, directly selling non-combat pets for real money. I am rather disappointed in them.
I don't really like micro-transactions. Maybe it's naive, but I prefer to have a very simple relationship with game companies. They make a good game, I give them money for that game, and they use that money to make more good games. They don't try to play tricks, to nickel-and-dime their costumers, to expend effort on "capturing consumer surplus". I'd rather they spend their time and effort on making better games.
I suppose this attitude is somewhat inconsistent with the other forms of quasi-RMT, like pets from the CCG or Collector's Editions. But incentives to purchase another product seem different, and more reasonable, in a way that directly selling the virtual item is not. And the cost for paid services like Server Transfers and Race/Faction/Gender changes always seemed like a means to decrease demand for desired meta-services, rather than acting as a money maker.
In a lot of ways, this feels like the moment where Blizzard "jumps the shark", when they go from being "Blizzard Entertainment" to just another of Activision's studios. For me, the two games of Blizzard that impressed me the most were Starcraft:Ghost and Warcraft Adventures. Two games that were never released; that were canceled because they weren't up to standards. Both those games were quite anticipated, and would have made a ton of money, probably far more than this microtransaction shop will bring in. Canceling them was a bold move, showing a willingness to prize long-term quality over short-term profit.
With this microtransaction store, Blizzard is making the opposite choice: choosing small profits over making a better game. They're still a good studio, and I don't doubt that Cataclysm, Starcraft 2, and Diablo 3 will be decent games. But I think Blizzard has lost something which made it special, and has been brought down to being "just another game company."