One thing that's missed in all the hoopla is how few people actually purchased the Star Pony. The raw numbers have been eye-popping, of course. But when you look at it as a percentage of the player base, maybe 5% at most have purchased one.
To be honest, this is pretty much the ultimate cosmetic item. It is a flying horse made of stars which is usable everywhere, and which every character you have can use. The only cosmetic item that could possibly top it would be a Dragon made of stars.
(Note to Blizzard: I would strongly consider purchasing a Star Dragon. It would be just too
And that 5% is 5% of a market that is already willing to shell out money on the game. Sure, some Free-To-Play evangelists will insist that without subscriptions, more people will spend money on cash shop items.
These people are wrong. In my--admittedly cynical--view, there are two types of people in this world: freeloaders and people willing to pay. Freeloaders won't pay anything if they have a choice, no matter what incentives you put in front of them. You have to force them to pay if you want to get any money out of them. The people who are willing to pay would probably pay the same amount regardless of how that payment is structured. The only real advantage is allowing them to try out the game without forcing a commitment.
So yes, Star Pony brought in a fair chunk of change. But it is dwarfed by the non-sexy, yet reliable, subscription money. Any game that looks at the Star Pony and decides to bet their future on a cash shop has been blinded, and will end up failing. If you haven't made an MMO worth subscribing to, you haven't made a good game.
(Yes, that includes you, Dungeons & Dragon Online. Five times a very small number is still a very small number.)
Off-topic Note: While Star Pony is a very nice mount, the best mounts are still the paladin charger and [Ashes of Al'ar].