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Blizzard, publisher of the "more than famous" World of Warcraft video game, has had trouble in the past week selling their new Celestial Steed. Their trouble, it seems, is that everyone wants one. So many people have tried to buy the Steed that the Blizzard shopping carts have had to put people into ques to handle pacing for their servers. Some reports indicate that Blizzard is making as much as $500,000 per hour on this little bit of ephemera.
This boggles my mind. These steeds cost $25 in real, actual, U.S. government-backed money for use in a virtual world. I understand that entertainment has value, but compare that cost against going to the movies: for $10, you'll get 2 hours of entertainment. Can Blizzard's new beast of burden really entertain someone for 5 hours? Sure, it virtually "flies" (insomuch as anything displayed on your heavier than air video monitor can be said to fly), but only as fast as your skill makes it go. To get the most from your Steed, you'll have to spend even more time practicing riding it. Figuring a recurring monthly fee for server access ($14.99) and the actual time spent playing (at $7.75 Federal Minimum Wage for, let's say, 20 hours per week), that's an equivalent expense of about $8 per hundreds of man hours of practice and farming time to get the most from your imaginary horse after you've already wasted time in a virtual line to pony up the real cash. No matter how I slice it, this is a terrible deal: wasting money to waste time.
Paying for play in a virtual world is one thing. But standing in line to pay to accessorize that world, that's something else. Something stupid. Maybe I'm just a cheap curmudgeon, but maybe the world really is full of gullible fools with more money than brains.
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