Hearthstone introduced a new Hero: Magni Bronzebeard. This is basically a replacement for the current Warrior, Garrosh. As far as I can tell, Magni is entirely cosmetic. The warrior ability is identical, as are all the existing cards. Magni just replaces the hero artwork and sound effects. Magni is being sold for $10.
I thought that this price was entirely reasonable. Magni is cosmetic, and is totally unnecessary. So why not charge a premium?
I was quite surprised when I saw the community reaction to Magni's pricing. Though honestly, when it comes to F2P games, I should just expect that the community will always complain, regardless of what the pricing actually is.
But seriously, isn't it better for the content that is sold to be cheap, and the cosmetics be expensive? Shouldn't a player on a limited budget be directed to content, like packs of cards or Arena, rather than pushing her towards unnecessary cosmetic items?
The problem, however, is that consumers look at the individual transactions, rather than the game as a whole. Content is considered to have more value than cosmetics, so inexpensive content is seen as a good bargain. Meanwhile expensive cosmetics is seen as poor value, and the consumer gets angry at the company for "gouging".
But pricing according to perceived value would have a negative effect on the F2P model. Content would be expensive, and cosmetics would be cheap. It would actually be very expensive to play the core game, becoming closer to the Pay-2-Win complaints. The base level of money needed to play would skyrocket, while the optional value extracted would be quite small. F2P games operate on the opposite principle, that the base level of money needed is low, while the optional value that can be extracted is high and variable. This is the very element that allows players to pay what they want and they can afford.
If a player has a budget of only $10, it's better that she buys 5 rounds of Arena, rather than 5 cosmetic items. In the long run, spending money on content will be more useful. Pricing cosmetics more expensively pushes the limited budget player towards content, as the better value matters more to her.
High profit cosmetic items allow content to be sold relatively cheaply. If you're a fan of F2P games, you should be applauding Magni's pricing. In the end, it's much better for all players that content is cheap and cosmetics are expensive, rather than the reverse.