As many as 140,000 World of Warcraft
players have queued to purchase the subscription-based MMORPG's recently introduced virtual items: a $25 Celestial Steed mount and a $10 Lil' XT pet (priced at 20 and 10, respectively, for Europe).
Added to the online Blizzard Store yesterday, the digital goods immediately attracted a high volume of orders, so much so that the shop began placing interested buyers in an automated queue to allow "controlled batches of visitors to finalize their purchases on a first-come, first-served basis."
Within six hours after Blizzard added the items to its store, the number of gamers queuing to buy one of the virtual animals jumped up to 80,000, according to a report
from unofficial fansite Wow.com. That number reached more than 140,000 several hours later, and users waited an estimated seven hours to complete their purchase.
Despite the rise of microtransaction-based, free-to-play MMOs (e.g. Dungeon Fighter Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online
), Blizzard has given no indication of plans to do away with its paid subscription model -- understandable considering the publisher has over 11.5 million subscribers worldwide (U.S. gamers pay around $13.95 to play WoW
Blizzard, however, began experimenting with purchasable virtual animals last November by selling two in-game pets priced at $10. The strategy seems enormously profitable -- if all 140,000 of those queued users (not counting players who completed their transactions) purchased the $25 Celestial Steed, Blizzard would have made some $3.5 million after just a day.
And if none of those World of Warcraft
members bought the Celestial Steed and purchased pets instead, the company would have still brought in at least $1.4 million.