I will be the first to tell you, that this does not surprise me. I had a feeling that SOE would follow after Blizzard’s example, putting up a mount on the marketplace. I never really paid attention to the Station Cash store, but recently found that it could have its uses, particularly with appearance items and/or potions. The fluff pets and house items really haven’t done anything for me, I have enough fluff pets I don’t use, and I haven’t really gotten to the point of being bored enough to truly decorate my house. Due to the fact that I’ve received free station cash here and there, and I just might be pulling in a little more if my buddy gets recruited (he’s still enjoying the trial), I have no problem enjoying a little trinket or two. But to flat-out pay for items that were initially stated to have no bearing on the game whatsoever? Not for me. This is why I don’t enjoy FTP MMOs, because they simply cannot be fully enjoyed without spending more than what a subscription costs per month.
Now, I don’t recall reading anything in particular about Blizzard’s store stating that items would have a minimal impact on gameplay, but I do recall reading something about SOE’s store making such a statement. If Blizzard made such a claim, they stuck to it with their Celestial Steed, because the Steed cannot be faster than the fastest mounts in the game, and then only if you have already earned one. Their mount also does not alter your character in any way, although no mounts in WoW alter anything aside from run speed (at least not that I know of). SOE’s new Prowler Mounts, however, are just as fast as the fastest mounts in the game, but there is no requirement of already owning one. It also adds desirable stats to both melee and spell-casting classes, and a fall speed reduction, all of which are things that are useful. Granted, with both mounts being priced at $25, I wouldn’t call them cheap, especially with the WoW version adding nothing whatsoever, aside from the fluff appearance. But I’m not sure I like the fact that someone brand new to the game can buy a mount with real money right off the bat, as opposed to being higher level or earning the cash in-game to purchase a mount, let alone a mount that resembles the best in the game.
This isn’t a deal-breaker here, anyone willing to spend $25 on something such as a mount is clearly on a different level than I. And I don’t criticize SOE for trying to cash in, just as Blizzard did. I think that the money earned can go towards further development of the game, but I don’t want to see it going towards more micro-transactions. Especially the useful kind. People should have to earn their place in the game, not buy it. It’s a fine line here, as the mount really doesn’t offend me, but it’s these kinds of ideas that can lead to games being ruined. If people can simply buy their way to success, what’s the point of playing the game? The instant gratification of it defeats the purpose of gaming in the first place. No one wants to beat a game the first day they buy it. So let’s keep our heads about us, SOE, and not get greedy and ruin the game.