Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Star Pony

I've made my feelings on RMT and micro-transactions pretty clear. I have not bought a Star Pony, nor am I likely too. Of course, I don't begrudge anyone who did buy a Star Pony. Money spent on entertainment is pretty much all equally worthwhile or equally worthless.

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 over-the-top awesome to resist.)

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].


  1. I greatly dislike the paladin charger but am totally on board with Ashes of Al'ar.

    I won't buy a star pony but I too would buy a star dragon.

  2. Ashes of Alar, OMG!! Yes, I have the star pony >.>

    I actually liked the KT white chicken mount better than paladin charger, maybe it is just me =X

    As for starry dragon, hell yeah, bring it on!

    I like the way you think, sir =)

  3. I'd nominate the paladin Argent Charger above the normal Charger. But you know what.. Chestnut Mare is awesome! Why can't we ride that at 100% :(

  4. Wow. When was the last time anyone in a wow-blog linked to thottbot? Oh nostalgia.

  5. Paladin Charger, FTW!

    I wonder, however, if I would feel quite so passionately about my Charger as I do if I had just plunked down some gold to train for it at level 40 instead of going through that incredible quest chain at level 60....

  6. Argent Charger > Paladin Charger

    And while I wouldn't refuse an Ashes of A'lar, I actually find it too flashy for my tastes. Oh, and it looks silly when "on the ground".

    My vote for best flying mount would be... Frostwyrms. So gorgeous.

    I'm hoping to have one from ICC before WotLK ends... /drool

  7. I have an unexpectedly strong attachment to my cenarion war hippogryph now that it has standing/running animations.

    I'm also still a sucker for the netherdrakes, almost purely because of the sappy little storyline at the end of the rep grind when you get him.

  8. I might be in the minority here, but I actually liked the charger questline quite a bit. In fact, I wish they'd put in some more like it...what would've been so hard about doing one for each class? Those were the cool differences between classes that I liked back in vanilla. I was sad yesterday because I saw this tauren standing at the AH with a badass looking shield and a big freaking sword, so I instantly thought it was a prot warrior...nope, it was an elemental shammy : ( Class homogenization ftl. In their looks. In their abilities. In their feel.

  9. I hate the Lolagon pony too, but I did buy it because I'm a mount collector, however, my main refuses to use it. But...having it show up on every character immediately is awesome. No need to buy ground mounts or flying mounts any more. It's just there in your mailbox waiting to go out for a ride. So I use it on alts, but my main refuses :)

  10. I love the Paladin charger mount! In my opinion a Paladin who renounces this mount and chooses chicken (a.k.a. hawkstrider) or cat instead is not worth his Paladinhood. It looks just plain stupid. Unless you're Draenei male, then you might favor a bigger mount until Cataclysm gives Tauren and Draenei Paladins some better sized Paladin mounts.

  11. I heard there were about 2 million sold (out of 11.5 million subscribers) which puts it closer to 15 - 20%. And yes, the Paladin Charger is awesome, if only for the quest to get it.

  12. The star pony is pretty, though I think I'd grow tired of looking at it fairly quickly and so haven't bought it.

    Long live the Argent Charger and the White Chocobo. Though neither both get edged out by the Spectral Tiger.

  13. Disagree strongly on both. Pala charger is just a horse. Alar was a disapointment. My favorite ground mount is the white tiger. As for flying mount Bliz has yet to produce something really awsome. Maby with patch 3.5 ? Lest hope so.

  14. The favourite ground mount of my rogue is the Dark War Talbuk from Halaa.

  15. My paladin only ever rides the Dark War Talbuk as well. Fine mount and you can say things like "The blood of a hundred of my enemies was spilled for this mount!" and what not.

  16. Even if the profit from the Star Pony is dwarfed by the profit from the subscription the costs for modeling and animating it should be neglectable compared to the costs of running and maintaining all of the servers. All in all I think they've made a fair amount of money of the pony.

    Amani War Bear > Everything though.

  17. One thing which doesn't really seem to have been mentioned is that Blizzard has previously stated that they price "additional services" (such as the Pet Store) not at what they're worth, but at a higher price to dissuade the majority of players from buying them.

    If they were purely out for profit, they probably would have made a lot more money if they sold the Celestial Steed at 5$ or less, even factoring in development costs, but then it would be everywhere. While that's not as much of a problem on their support staff as making paid character transfers 5$ or less, it still makes the horse seem less unique, and thus it loses it's luster.

  18. "If you haven't made an MMO worth subscribing to, you haven't made a good game."

    Your rather naive view of a successful economic models which differs from what you are used to make your post appear as nothing less then an ostrich attempting to hide itself form view by burying its' head in the sand.

    Furthermore, your example of DDO as a game with micro transactions is laughable, as it quite simply a late and incomplete adopter of the system(as they still have a subscription service).

    Look beyond the borders of your own nation and see that the micro transaction business model has already proven successful, and realize you'll be seeing a lot more of it soon.