Nearly every week, Blog Azeroth proposes a shared topic to be discussed by World of Warcraft bloggers. For the week of December 9, 2012, the topic is: What raid-drop pets would you like to see? In Patch 5.1, Blizzard added battle pets as drops from certain raid bosses in Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, and Naxxramas. An achievement called Raiding with Leashes was also added. It requires players to collect all of the new raid pets and it awards a pet of its own, Mr. Bigglesworth. Patch 5.1 also changed it so that players could enter old raids without being in a raid group and the mechanics of certain bosses were changed to make them easier to solo.
Adding these pets was a great idea. Not only does it provides players with a new incentive to go back and re-visit older raid content, but the drop rate on the pets is not so low that it feels like another horrible grind. It seems very likely that Blizzard will expand on this in future content patches. When looking at what kind of pets should drop from raids in the future, Blizzard should look no further than their own pet store.
When the pet store was first introduced, the World of Warcraft community became very divided. One of the arguments made by those in favor of the pet store was that pets and mounts were purely cosmetic. It was far from Blizzard offering the latest tier gear for $19.99 a slot. When non-combat pets became . . . well, combat pets, things changed a little. The pet store was no longer offering purely cosmetic items.
All of the pets from the pet store are rare quality. That already provides a nice boost to players looking to train a new pet, but many of the pets also have very powerful stats and unique move sets. Lil’ Ragnaros is one such pet, and there is no wild pet substitute for him.
Blizzard should provide alternatives for pet store pets in the same way that the 5th anniversary pet, the Onyxian Whelpling, is identical to a pet found in Dustwallow Marsh called the Spawn of Onyxia. In an effort to avoid alienating players who were unable to obtain an Onyxian Whelpling, Blizzard did the right thing in making an alternative available. Many of the pet store pets easily lend themselves to raids too.
I would not mind if the pet store pets had unique models or textures, or if there was a period of exclusivity, but eventually the battle stats and move sets of the pets should be available outside of the pet store.
I saved the Wind Rider Cub and Gryphon Hatchling for last because they are special cases. First because they are the only pets obtained from the Blizzard store that are sold with plush versions of the pet, and second because the Gryphon Hatchling actually already has an equivalent. The Wildhammer Gryphon Hatchling can be captured by both Horde and Alliance players in Twilight Highlands.
I was unable to find an equivalent for the Wind Rider Cub. While I believe adding equivalents of the other pet store pets to raids is a good idea, the Wind Rider Cub should probably be found somewhere in Highperch, located in Thousand Needles, where Wyvern roam.
Making alternate versions of pet store pets available in raids would ease my own personal qualms about the Blizzard pet store, and I am sure others have similar feelings. I know that battle pets have been described as a mini-game in World of Warcraft, and that having exclusive pets does not really impact any significant part of the game. Still, it is a slippery slope. When players can purchase things that give them a competitive advantage in the game, even if it is just a small aspect of the game like battle pets, it can easily scale over time. I would look more kindly on Blizzard if it implemented this change, and it would reinforce the notion that the pet store is merely there to sell cosmetic items.