Today, Blizz opened up their "Pet Store" where you can purchase in-game vanity pets for r/l money.
Since the announcement, I've seen all sorts of arguments for and against what Blizz is doing here, and I'm not going to get into either of those arguments.
Is this just another means for Blizzard to make crazy amounts of money off their cash-cow that is World of Warcraft? You bet it is. Is that a bad thing? Not really, in my opinion. Blizzard (namely Activision Blizzard now) is a profit oriented company. Blizzard may be dedicated to making great games, but they are also out to make a buck and do it in whatever way they can that's most profitable. This is just one of many ways that WoW can pay off for them... again. Good for them for putting out a product that provides this many different ways for them to capitalize. It's not greedy, it's good business and them capitalizing on an immensely popular product. Companies like Blizzard are out to make money, just like countless other companies. As long as they continue to put out quality games, people will continue to support them by purchasing their products.
Aside from simply being able to purchase the Pandaren Brewmaster, Blizzard is donating half of the money ($5 per pet, since they cost $10) made from purchases for this pet toward the Make a Wish foundation charity, through 12/31/09.
I bought a Pandaren Brewmaster........ and I think he's pretty freakin' cool.
Now.... would I have opted to buy one if the donation to charity was not part of the deal? Possibly, maybe even probably... (because he's so damn cool) but the fact that they are donating to a charity sealed the deal for me.
Charities like Make-a-Wish Foundation (www.wish.org) and other charities focused around benefiting children in need and their families really hit close to home for me, as I have seen the huge impact they can have on a child and their family first hand.
A year ago my niece Lynnea was born with only half of her heart developed, a condition called Mitral Atresia. Since that time, she has spent 177 days in the hospital, she has had five heart surgeries and six heart catherizations, as well as other difficulties associated with this type of condition. (you can follow Lynnea's progress on their family's blog at http://callisonchronicle.blogspot.com/)
Charities like Make-a-Wish Foundation, HopeKids, and others have been incredible not only for supporting Lynnea, but the rest of her family as well by doing things like providing toys for her older sister (who's 2 yrs old), providing them with equipment required so that they can actually have Lynnea at home, providing them with meals while they are in the hospital etc., and much more.
Needless to say, that whenever I see an opportunity to do something like this that actively supports this type of charity as well as being a part of something I already enjoy... I jump all over it.
I got a badass pet out of the deal that I can watch and be entertained by in my Fraps videos... and I get to support a charity at the same time.