Appearance Items

I don’t really want to write about the celestial steed that Blizzard added to its item shop last week, when so much has already been said about it.  Instead, I want to focus on one element of it: the speed.

Buying one of these mounts does not gain you any advantage.  The speed of this mount will be equal to the speed of the fastest mount you own.  So if you only have the slowest mount in the game, your celestial flying mount will be the slowest in the game.  It might be based on your riding skill too, but it clearly states that in order to have your celestial steed move at 310% speed you have to own another 310% speed mount.  I suspect the only real attribute this mount has beyond its looks is that it is a flying mount, and so if you have no other flying mount, this could be your first flying mount.  But the key here is that the mount itself has no speed, and instead takes its speed from another source.

People are okay with this because it means that you can’t buy an advantage from the store, just a toy that is no better in game that what you already own.

One thing Blizzard hasn’t added to their game yet that several other games have are appearance slots.  In some games if you want the stats of the Unobtainium Breastplate but prefer the look of the Ghostly Robes, you can slap the breastplate into your “real” armor slot and put the robes into the “appearance” slot.  That way, everyone sees the Ghostly Robes, but you have the protection of the Unobtainium Breastplate.  Now is the time for Blizzard to look at this.  I think they’d be fools not to go down this road.

They should first add in the ability to wear appearance only items, that second paper doll, and start putting in craft-able and drop-able and vendor purchasable appearance only items.  Then once it has been out there for a bit, start throwing the truly awesome looking stuff into the store.  How many people would shell out $5, $10, or some other amount for a Celestial Breastplate or Hellfire Helm or other armor pieces with awesome unique (until a million people buy them) looks and animations?  Especially if its like the pets where one purchase makes the item available to all the characters on the account?

The answer: lots.  So, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it coming soon.  I don’t think Blizzard is ever going to sell “real” gear in their store, no buying top tier raid gear, but I can easily see them milking appearance items for all it’s worth.  They’ve already proven people will buy pets and now mounts, plus it would give them another avenue for exclusive giveaways for Blizz-con and other events.

8 comments

  1. Tesh says:

    Agreed. It’s long past due to have appearance slots in WoW, and it’s a great hook into further monetization of non-influential stuff. Cosmetic stuff sells, pure and simple, and Blizzard is behind the times on this.

    • Jason says:

      It’s one of those features that I think every MMO needs, to separate appearance from function, as it allows for more customer satisfaction without detrimentally impacting game play (well, except for the people who claim that they can identify a player’s class and relative power and skill based on the appearance of their gear for PvP, but I’ve never really bought that).

  2. […] breastplate of doom upgrade. They’ve already demonstrated that there is a huge interest in appearance items, and oh by the way they are already planning this for Cataclysm with the overcloak concept. Those […]

  3. gentimouton says:

    In some games if you want the stats of the Unobtainium Breastplate but prefer the look of the Ghostly Robes, you can slap the breastplate into your “real” armor slot and put the robes into the “appearance” slot. That way, everyone sees the Ghostly Robes, but you have the protection of the Unobtainium Breastplate.
    On the other hand, it becomes a strategy to hide your actual equipment from other players. I dont know if that’s always OK in multiplayer games.

    Sure, players do need avatar customization, whether it’s a mount, gear, house or anything else. But Blizzard is, to my mind, stepping into dangerous grounds. Their fan base used to be a “hardcore” one back in 2004 when WoW started. Now, hardcores are being pushed (maybe excluded?) from the game as so many casual noobs (other kind of fans?) bring so much money to Blizzard. I do not know if the Pandaren was a smart move towards hardcore fans because it was seen by many as this “evil RMT” or “Dont they have enough money yet?”. Or maybe is Blizzard transforming hardcores into RMT-friendly guys?

  4. […] Slope To Slip On Continuing this week’s theme of these two […]

  5. […] a system that divorced form from function.  And just four months ago, I made another post on appearance items.  Now, thanks to Melmoth over at KiaSA, I’ve learned that Lord of the Rings Online is […]

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