Invasion of the sparkly ponies

So Blizzard is now offering a special mount in their online store, and everyone's going wild about it. On the blogs I read people mostly seem to be focused on the business aspect of the whole thing, whether they see it as a good thing that the mount doesn't actually give anyone an in-game advantage or frown at what they consider a very steep price tag for a virtual vanity item. For the record, I have no problem with this kind of RMT, and I don't mind the price either. People spend much larger sums on much stupider things, so twenty euros for a virtual horse don't strike me as that outrageous.

On my server, the pony craziness has already hit the community with full force. Krasus' Landing has turned into a horse show, and people are racing the things all over Dalaran as well. Last night I got to watch a grown man explode into excited squeals in guild chat as soon as he spotted his first pony after logging on. Earlier today I saw an orc warrior, whom I know to be a fairly "tough guy" type in real life, squat on top of one the sparkly horses in front of the north bank, looking extremely silly. The poor mount's legs looked as if they were about to buckle under the orc's weight at any moment. It looks quite cool when in flight, but something about the partial transparency makes the proportions look out of whack when it's on the ground, as if the torso's too fat and the legs too spindly. It looks utterly ridiculous.

When images of the celestial steed were datamined for the first time there was a lot of speculation about it being a drop from Arthas, or maybe from some boss in Ulduar. The ghost of Arthas' old horse? The mount of the titans? It all sounded very cool. From that point of view I'm a bit disappointed that it ended up in the cash shop instead. For me things only really have value in the game if that value is created in context. I like my mounts because I had to work for them, or I have a fond memory of getting really lucky with a drop rate or a loot roll, or because they are just the perfect fit for my character. A sparkly horse that randomly shows up in everyone's mailbox one day just because they spent some real cash in Blizzard's online store means nothing to me. If anything, this openly advertised breaking of immersion makes me frown a little. However, I realise that this is just my view of the game, and others will probably disagree.

So if you think that the celestial steed is just the mount for you and you have the money to spare... good for you! Still, remembering Lil' K.T. and the pandaren monk pet, I can't help but wonder if many of these newly-made horse lovers aren't fooling themselves just a little. When these mini-pets first came out they were all the rage as well - people were going on about the awesome animations they had, and I swear that half my raid force bought at least one of the two. There was a veritable army of these little guys out during out first couple of raids after their release. A few months later however, and they are completely forgotten. Many of those former impulse buyers just don't bother to have any vanity pet out at all, while others have gone back to showing off pets to which they actually have some kind of emotional connection. I can't blame them, and I'm sure that the sparkly pony will end up exactly the same way: it'll be a big fad for maybe a few weeks, but then people will grow tired of having the same mount as everyone else, something to which they have no real connection to other than that it gave them a brief feeling of "oh cool, I must have one of those", which then led to an impulse purchase.

But then, if everyone actually considered whether they really want a mount like that instead of going "OMG A PONY MUST HAVE", Blizzard wouldn't be printing money the way they do. I hope they put the extra millions they earn from that to good use at least.

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