Wow, I've been reading a lot about this whole pony debate. It seems many players are resentful of this new development in our favorite MMO, but somehow countless hordes still bought ponies. No matter how offensive some may find the idea, clearly there are plenty of others who are willing to fork over the cash. After reading a number of posts about this, I thought I'd throw a different spin on the debate.
One of the things that makes life challenging for a gamer (especially those of us born before the 90's) is being able to share about your hobbies. It's usually not a problem to chat about the latest American Idol cast-off or last night's ball game. But talking about your current game activities pretty much never plays well. I actually gave up on having my WoW friends and RL friends on the same Facebook account because it was just too weird for me. This is primarily because non-gamers really don't understand what gamers do and why they put so much time into a game (or games).
The nice part about gaming is that it's becoming more mainstream and businesses are starting to develop products that appeal to us. Personally, I can't get enough of this stuff. I love going to Jinx or Thinkgeek and checking out the latest geek/gamer products. I put gamer goodies on my Amazon Wishlist all the time. When a holiday rolls around, those are the items I'm most interested in getting. My family may not understand my passion, but they can still gift me with items I'll actually enjoy.
This is why I have no problem with virtual goods being sold by Blizzard. As long as they don't affect the power of the characters we play, who cares if they offer in-game items for sale? Everyone seems so focused on how these items are meaningless shinies that will somehow ruin the game by their mere existence. In reality, they aren't any different than the TCG loot card items we've had in the game for years now.
On the plus side, now I have a way for my friends and family show they love me by getting me something I'll cherish more than yet another scented candle or recipe book. Last Christmas we actually had fun gifting virtual pets to each other and collaborating about who would get which pet for which person. And every time my daughter asked me recently what I wanted for my birthday, I said "a pony!".
Now seriously, how often in life can we say something that silly and mean it?