So yesterday Blizzard made two new items available in their store. Of course the internet and trade chat are full of individuals expressing either their excitement or disdain over the choice. Name calling abounds on both sides. Records are being set as we speak.
The major focus is on the much anticipated Celestral Steed. When MMO Champion first data mined this the majority of people assumed it would be the reward for downing Algalon in Ulduar in Hard Mode. While it would have made two drop mounts in one large instance the precedence for that had been set WAY back in Vanilla WoW with Zul'Grub. (Though the Tiger and Raptor mounts are rare drops.) Well Ulduar has come and gone, so much so that unless it happens to have the weekly random boss kill in it few even bother to darken its doors. No Star Pony. At this point the assumption being made was that perhaps it would make its appearance as part of the new trading card game. Again precedence has been set in that.
Then (to some) the unthinkable happens. Blizzard announces that the mount people have been discussing for MONTHS is going to be SOLD for REAL MONEY at the Blizzard Store. It will be a BoA item which scales with riding scale and the fastest mount that character happens to already have. (Meaning if you have a 310 speed it will ALSO go 310.) In addition to that like the Headless Horseman's mount it can serve both as a land AND a flying mount.
Achievement mongers are up in arms. This was suppose to be another "cool" mount exclusively for THEM. Altaholics are drooling because for $25 they can mount EVERY TOON THEY HAVE with a NICE looking mount. No rep grinding required. Those of us who don't have the spare cash to purchase one are left with four options, convince someone ELSE to purchase it for you, brave purchasing one with in game gold from someone who offers up a key (hello new hacker opportunity), wait until we have the cash or just go without and try to ignore the herd of star ponies over running Dalaran. As a mount collector it has been a difficult pill to swallow but I will just have to wait. Spending $25 dollars on a vanity item while neck deep in a kitchen and double bath renovation is just NOT going to happen.
Yes, the steed IS a useful item in that it CAN be used by ALL your characters. Lets face it, it certainly looks different from the mounts you can use as a lower level that don't involve LUCK from the trading card game, even LARGER investments on Ebay (hello, ANOTHER hacker/scam opportunity) or attempting to get a friend to join up with you and level. The last option causing some to just purchase yet ANOTHER account. Now the major difference with all these others is that THOSE mounts are only good for a SINGLE character. Here we are getting something that ALL our characters both present AND future can use.(Worgen on star ponies.....Twilight again?)
Now as a mount collector I will say this. I want it for my collection but as others have stated this is going to be a mount that becomes redundant quickly if you are only after it to "be cool". I had to laugh when I logged on yesterday and our guild was busy discussing it. One player was giving a count by count run down on their position in the cue. Another (who is ALSO a mount collector) was complaining that it really looked funny with his Night Elf so he was sticking to his Spectral Tiger. A third was attempting to talk everyone ELSE out of buying one because he wanted to be the only one in the guild WITH it. (Unfortunately for him about 5 people already HAD it and were busy flying circles around each other outside Dalaran.) The vast majority were on the fence as to purchasing it or not.
After seeing it in game, my opinion is that it doesn't look as nice as it does on a dark background showing off all the detail. If I can ever get one I would most likely only use it at night time.
Beyond that, for those who are screaming about "micro transactions and slippery slope" I want you to consider something. Which would you prefer: a raise in subscription fees or Blizzard getting their extra money via convenience services and vanity items? We have been playing this game for FIVE years. In that time the subscription fee has not increased ONE CENT. At the same time the player base and expectations of those players has risen extensively. I would rather have those with the disposable income covering the additional expenses keeping Activision happy so they leave the REST of Blizzard alone to focus on the games I enjoy playing. They are a BUSINESS first, they are not required to give a percentage of their proceeds to some charity so that you can then claim that is the only reason you are making the investment.
Now the Lil'XT vanity pet just hasn't received much notice because of the focus on the Celestial Steed. A couple of our pet collectors immediately picked him up. When I saw the video I though "how CUTE" then we had three in the raid last night and my attitude was "shut him UP". Like the Pandaren Monk the noise can quickly get on your nerves. While it is awesome that they are making the pets more interactive (I do like the fact that the XT pet will destroy any train set it comes in contact with.) for those who like to have vanity pets out during raids or instances it can cause issues. He is also much LARGER than previous vanity pets I have seen, almost as tall as a gnome and in one raid I saw one that was human size. I don't know if they scale with their owners, had something put on them or what but confusing him with a small plate wearer in the heat of battle could prove interesting.