There is an interesting little flap going on in one of the Legion forums — you can read the original forum comments here or the MMO-C summary that cuts to the chase here. The discussion surrounds a new vendor in Legion who is selling items at outrageous prices, for example a spider mount for 2 million gold.
Yes, you read that right, it is not a typo — 2 million gold. For a ground mount. A big hairy spider.
When I first read the forum comments, I pretty much glossed over them. I am not much of a mount collector, much less a ground mount for an absurd amount of gold. There are many parts to this game that hold no interest for me, and this spider mount certainly falls into that category. Honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would want one especially at that price, but I suppose there are some who will covet it because it is a great ostentatious way to parade around and preen and pretend others greatly envy your godlike status in the game. Fine. Go for it. But I have less than zero interest in this mount, or for that matter any of the ridiculously-priced vanity items sold by this Legion vendor. And honestly, if I see someone riding around on this mount, my first thought will not be, “Oooooh, I am in the presence of greatness,” but rather, “Oooooh, I am in the presence of a moron.” Again, just my opinion, and remember I am not a collector of anything either IRL or in the game, so I clearly do not understand the allure of “rare” items.
Even though I don’t give a rat’s patoot one way or another if Blizz wants to put some of these items into the game (as long as they remain vanity items, not spec enhancements), I still found the forum comments very interesting.
First, I found it interesting that there were people who apparently felt very strongly either for or against the idea of fantastically overpriced items being introduced to the game. I mean, I would have thought it would be a great big “meh” to most people. If you have the gold and want to spend it on such things, have at it. If you think it is stupid to do that, whether or not you have the gold, then don’t buy the stuff. If you don’t have the gold, you can’t buy any of it. This is not a complex decision.
But many people were irate, either because they wanted the items and could not see themselves ever being able to afford them or because they will be able to afford them and fear the prices will be lowered, resulting in them not being recognized as the special snowflakes they are.
Or maybe the people who post in forums just feel they must be irate about everything. Who knows?
As a side comment, one of the things I really like about Blizz’s game time token is that it gives us a way to measure the worth of items, either in real money or in terms of game play time. So for example, currently in North America the token costs you $20 in real money, and it sells for a bit above 40,000 gold in the AH. Which means — check my math on this — that the spider mount will have a value of approximately $1000 in real money. (2 million divided by 40,000 times 20)
Put another way, it costs the equivalent of 50 months of game play (at 40,000 gold per month).
I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine paying $1000 for a collection of big hairy spider pixels, or even trading more than 4 years of game play for it.
But on to the more interesting thing about this whole discussion, and my second point, which was Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas’s blue post responses to it. To his credit, they were quite lengthy and only once delved into dismissive, smarmy snarkiness (something along the lines of “Hey, if you are an arachnophobe you should be very glad it will be a rarely seen mount” — he really cannot help himself it seems). It is possible that he learned something about communication manners from his days leading the charge on the flying thing.
Still, I am trying to puzzle out what he could have meant in his detailed response when he said that Blizz actually designs the game to cater to small minorities of its player base. He seemed to be saying that designing for the minority results in designing for the majority if you hit enough player minority groups because everyone’s favorite part of the game eventually gets attention.
It sounded like typical lawyer mumbo jumbo, but I suppose I can see at least the major point he was getting at. No matter what the devs do, some group will be unhappy and some group will be ecstatic over it. Since it is impossible therefore to design for everyone, they have opted to design for small groups and “everyone” belongs to one or more small groups. But it seemed to me that he went further than that and went to some pains to invoke the old argument that “we have our secret ways to know what players really want”.
Re-reading that last paragraph, it seems rambling and obscure, but I think that is because Watcher’s comments were, too. I feel like on the one hand he was trying to communicate something about the design process at Blizz, but on the other hand he was setting up some good reliable excuses to do very unpopular designs and justify them with the murky “broad base of player feedback, which we won’t tell you what that is but of which forums are only a small part”.
I will be interested to see if these blue posts are a setup to at least a part of what will happen tomorrow with the dev discussion on Twitch. I don’t know what if anything I expect from tomorrow. I know some people are betting it will be the announcement of the public beta. That is possible — if we are to have a beta, it is getting down to the wire on implementing it if Legion is to go live at the end of August. I am certain it will also be a big movie hype, as we are about a month out from that — possibly the official announcement of specific movie ticket tie-ins with the game, maybe a new trailer or a rerun of an old one.
What I would most love to see is an honest discussion of the reasons behind Legion’s massive spec overhaul (none of that “spec fantasy” doodoo), a real assessment of the status of class balancing, and an announcement of a reasonable boost for multiple artifacts — both to facilitate spec-switching and to encourage alt development. I know that is a ridiculous hope, almost on a “ridiculous” par with 2 million gold for a mount, but we are after all an optimistic species…
Check back here Wednesday for my take on the dev discussion. Meanwhile, maybe ask the boss for some overtime if you want a spider mount.