Blizzard Store is now selling a new mount and a pet

UPDATE: Blizzard has responded to our request for comment.

The World of Warcraft arm of the Blizzard Store is no longer a place solely devoted to selling in-game virtual pets and adorable plush animals. As of this afternoon, it’s a digital storefront that sells useful digital items for the MMO.

An update to the Blizzard Store ushered in the game’s first for-cost mount, the Celestial Steed. It’s a winged beast that is armored from its nose to back. Its most notable visual feature is its translucent skin, a kickback from being “freshly” born from a place Blizzard is calling the “Twisting Nether.”

As fantastic as it looks, the new mount isn’t an overpowered, end-all piece of content. It can only travel as fast as users’ riding skill. The example in the Blizzard Store uses the mount’s top speed (310% speed) and cautions that it can only travel that fast if “you have at least one other 310% mount.”

So, yes, it’s a functional in-game mount but as the description indicates, it’s nothing you don’t have. Speaking with me this afternoon via e-mail, Blizzard’s Shon Damron called it a “purely cosmetic” mount and compared it to the mounts offered through the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.

“As with the non-combat pets available in the online store (such as Lil’ KT or the Pandaren Monk) or the mounts available through the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, the Celestial Steed is purely cosmetic. After the launch of the Pet Store, we received a lot of requests from the community to offer mounts as well; as with the pets, the Celestial Steed simply offers players a fun way to customize the look of their characters without detracting from the gameplay.”

Making the Steed an addition that didn’t usher in an advantage to purchasers was “critical” to Blizzard.

“It was critical that the Celestial Steed didn’t provide players with any gameplay advantages,” Damron said. “With any of the paid services we offer, whether it’s Paid Name Changes, Race Changes, Character Re-Customizations, or offering pets and mounts in the Pet Store, our goal is to design the service in a way that’s not detrimental to the game and that doesn’t detract from the gameplay experience for players who choose not to use the service.

“As with the other pets or mounts available through the World of Warcraft TCG, the Celestial Steed is entirely optional and intended to provide players another means to enjoy World of Warcraft.”

There is a queue for the new, non-game-breaking mount. Tens of thousands of users are lined up and waiting for their purchase. As of just a few minutes ago, unofficial World of Warcraft Web site WoW.com reported that over 140,000 people are in the Store’s queue and will be sitting without the Celestial Steed for, at least, around seven hours.

And the queue, as the Store states, “does not guarantee that you will have the opportunity to purchase an item,” but Damron said there are no plans to limit The Celestial Steed.

The Celestial Steed flying mount is selling for $25.00 dollars and can be gifted to other players — players who may not agree with what Blizzard is selling for a simple reason: one thing can lead to another. As one user on the official message board for the game puts it, “so … how long ’till they start selling gear … or gold even …”

“We have no plans to offer gold or gear to players in this fashion,” Damron told me, speaking to his previous point of offering players fun customization, at a price, without comprimising the MMO.

The Steed was joined by another digital download this afternoon, a virtual pet by the name of Lil’ XT. The pet’s launch over the Store was easily overshadowed by the Celestial Mount because of its in-game functionality.

“Programmed with boundless energy and a child-like enthusiasm,” the Store’s description of the pet reads, “Lil’ XT, the mini-Deconstructor, awaits adoption by a capable and adventurous parent.” According to the store, the pet’s “tantrums” are electric.

Lil’ XT is selling for $10.00 and can be gifted as well.

Both items, once activated, can be used across any World of Warcraft accounts tied to a single North American license.

Source: Queue for Celestial Steed and Lil’ XT is above 80,000 [WoW.com]

Brad BradNicholson