The big Blizzard announcement this week (and I use big in the more ironic sense of the word) is that they’re selling a new pet via the cash shop. Yes, stop the presses, it’s a flying lion cub to match those flying lion mounts.
This pet will also be tradeable in game, which spawned a slew of blog posts about the new kitten economy (ie. people who want in-game gold can buy a pet for $10 and sell it on the in game auction house).
But what I wonder is how long the demand for flying cubs is going to last. For sure there will be people who like pets AND have plenty of spare cash in game AND would prefer to pay gold than RL money for them. But how many, and will they be willing to pay more for this cub than they would for a pet that’s a rare drop (and hence likely to be rarer.) Just for comparison, I’ve seen rare pets go for up to 20k gold on the auction house – I don’t know if people bought them for that but that’s how they were listed. I’m not sure the cub will be that rare.
Blizzard are clearly testing the market for future cash shop items to be similarly traded in game, and (just as in Diablo) people were trading the cash shop codes for in game cash anyway, just previously there had to be an element of trust and out of game arrangements. This makes it easier.
So what are Blizzard likely to announce at Blizzcon?
Often there are huge leaks about the big announcements for Blizzcon by this time of year.
What we know so far is more about what won’t be discussed. So unless Blizzard are pulling a double-buff, they won’t be making any announcements about their new MMO, Titan.
They have already said that Diablo 3 is being postponed until 2012, so they may not be ready to announce a release date yet. My guess is that it’ll be Q1 so probably Feb/March next year. I’m not sure there is much else to really announce about D3 unless they’re having a big open beta, which is possible.
That leaves Starcraft 2, which has upcoming expansions that are likely to be announced. And World of Warcraft – expect announcements about the next expansion.
It’s not impossible that they’ll have other WoW related announcements. For example, if the game was going free to play (which I doubt, but you never know), spawning a mobile minigame, or changing to a smaller, more frequent expansion model.
I’m not really feeling the excitement this year, but it will be interesting to read about how the Cataclysm panels go.