I was reading The Lazy Geek’s thoughts this morning about the new World of Warcraft (“WoW”) pet store companion. “Real” journalists picked the story up a little later. Anyway it now appears that people can spend real money in WoW in order to buy an in-game salable, tradable item… which, you know, is a luxury item to show off some bling. I make no comment on its effect on the shaky WoW economy (both in-game and out) as I do not currently play the MMO, but I would caution that as we enter the next era of MMOs, this will become more prevalent.
Anyway, while The Lazy Geek’s thoughts were more negative, I couldn’t help but silently applaud Blizzard. They have this sinking ship. It’s sinking slowly and still dredging up tons of gold and oil, yet I have a feeling the captain already sees the end coming. Except, it’s not going to be the end in a sense. Sure, it will be the end of the massive floating ocean liner that engulfs oceans, but the ocean liner could be retro-fitted into something else. Maybe with hats.
I think that Blizzard should start using WoW like how Valve has been using Team Fortress 2 (TF2). Basically as a lab. Conduct experiments that would normally be frowned upon. Stick that golden goose with tons of hypodermic needles that would have scared stockholders spitless in days of yore. Go crazy. Make a $1000 mount. Sell a new class as DLC. Make the next expansion a digital product only. Give new emotes as dungeon awards. Make a hat-based economy. The sky is the limit!
See, I think we are going to hit a node in the pattern soon for the MMO genre, and in my opinion the outcome is going to be that investors are going to be even less adventurous. Yet, if Blizzard is showing that they are doing some crazy things it is possible that the detrimental nodal effects could be mitigated. Ironically it could be that formulaic Blizzard doing out-of-the-box thinking and experiments could save us from any potential MMO dark ages.