All hunters will tell you that one of the main appeals of the class is the pet-owner bond. Sure, this is a virtual world and my pet is just a bunch of 1′s and 0′s, but it’s uncanny how many hunters grow attached and refuse to part with a particular pet to tame a new one — even if the new one offers better skills or abilities.
My first pet on Ghostfire was a level 10 ravager named Scrunchie. Despite looking like a cockroach going through puberty, I loved Scrunchie. She was an animated blender at my command, and she stuck it out with me from level 10 to level 70. Sure, there are prettier ravager models in Outland, but Scrunchie is special to me; we have a bond. It’s unthinkable that I’d ever replace her, or that she wouldn’t continue the journey with me to 80 when the expansion pack hits.
That said, I never felt the need to tame a second pet in the game until I heard about the guys who figured out how to tame the summonable ghost wolves following patch 2.3. I’ve had a soft spot for wolves, but because Blizzard so clearly favors cats in this game, the wolf models sport only a limited selection of looks. The second I saw a screenshot of the ghost wolf, I knew I had to get one. I mapped out my strategy, I scrounged for a helmet, gold for a metagem, and coerced some buddies into helping. When we successfully tamed Oz — on our first try, no less — well, that instantly went into my top 5 moments of playing WoW, ever. Oz might not be the best pet, stat-wise, but I formed a second bond with this critter, enough to make me stick it out having to level him from 30 to (currently) 66.
As any hunter will tell you, the owner-pet bond is one of the things that keeps them playing their class.
It came as a sucker punch to the gut when I logged out last night and read that Blizzard was no longer allowing players to tame ghost wolves (the grimtotem spirit guides). Drysc posted this as their reasoning: “The unintended nature of the taming, the undead status of the guide, appearance of the wolf in relation to the feel of the hunter class, and the complex processes of taming were all issues touched upon and discussed. ”
At first I thought this meant that I’d be losing Oz, but I guess they’re allowing current ghost wolves to stay in the game (big sigh of relief). However, this is a completely bone-headed move on Blizzard’s behalf. Yes, I know it’s just a pet type that’s no longer tamable, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem to matter — yet it does. Follow me now:
1. Blizzard lied. When ghost wolf taming was initially discovered, worried players asked Blizzard if this was something that would be changed, or if it was safe to start saving up for the mats to tame this guy. A Blue went on record to say: “While this feature of the Grimtotem Spirit Guide wasn’t exactly intended, it was agreed by the development team that this is a fun use of in-game mechanics, and we therefore have no plans to address this issue – it will still be possible in future for everyone who wishes to tame this NPC to do so. ” Now, we can’t. Blizzard lied.
2. Blizzard stealth-hotfixed it. This is where the real protest stems from. Without announcing to the hunter population that the ghost wolf would become unavailable, Blizzard went ahead and quietly hotfixed it. Only when players who tried to tame the ghost wolf recently and failed discovered this as an issue and posted a question about it on the forums did Blizzard come out and admit the change. It’s one thing to lie, it’s another thing to stab your players in the back this way.
3. Taming a ghost wolf took considerable preparations: time, money and effort. When this hotfix was discovered, many hunters had already blown over a hundred gold or so on the metagem and were in various stages of preparation for the taming. Now, they’re left in the lurch.
4. The reasons that Blizzard cited are invalid. In particular, the reason that ghost wolves are “undead” and don’t fit in with the hunter class. This is silly — hunters can tame three pets that are definitely undead (like the plagued boar) and another pet with a transparent look (the ghost saber).
5. Ghost wolves have no special abilities over any other pet, other than a unique look. There’s absolutely no threat to balance in leaving them in the game.
6. This is in keeping with Blizzard’s policy of “If it’s a fun feature but we didn’t deliberately create it, it must go.” We’ve seen this time and again: a player discovers an inventive use of a spell or an item or a game feature, and has a lot of fun with it — then Blizzard comes away and yanks the fun toy away because they didn’t mean to do it on purpose. Sure, sometimes that toy causes imbalance, but when it doesn’t, it makes no sense that Blizzard should get prickly about it. Your game just got MORE FUN for its players. You have unintentionally SATISFIED a paying customer. What business model sees this as a bad thing? Instead of hotfixing it, Blizzard should be wholeheartedly embracing this quirk and turn it into a supported feature: rare-looking pets that take significant effort to tame, sort of like an epic hunter pet quest.
7. This sours hunters on other pets. Blizzard cites time and again the wide field of beasts already available to hunters for taming, however, in reality this boils down to a mere handful of choices. You want a tank pet? Get a boar. A dps pet? Get a cat, ravager or raptor. You want to annoy the crap out of your fellow dungeon runners? Get a bird. Other pets are statistically inferior or lack key trainable skills, such as dash, to make them appealing for hunters to tame. To paraphrase a poster on the hunter forums, what does it matter to Blizzard, that a player can tame a beast with skin model A, but can’t tame an identical creature who sports skin model B? Why does it matter to Blizzard so much that they actively limit the more unique and cool-looking beasts that we can tame? Darn it, I want to tame a giraffe!
8. Current ghost wolf owners are understandably worried. Suddenly, their pet of choice has been deemed “Bad” by Blizzard. Sure, we’re allowed to keep the pet, but the reversal of their support of ghost wolf taming, coupled with the stealth hotfix, has left us with little assurance that our ghost wolves are safe in the future. Blizzard has in the past, many times, yanked tamed pets away from their owners because they retroactively decide that a certain beast shouldn’t be tamable. It’s entirely possible that I might log in one day to see Oz’s looks changed to a normal wolf, or to be unable to feed Oz (and have him flee once his loyalty bottoms out).
I’m sure Blizzard doesn’t think much about this issue, but if, like me, this annoys you and points to a larger problem with the Blizzard mindset, then post your support on the hunter forums today.
EDITED TO ADD:
- The original Blizzard Europe post stating that ghost wolf taming was here to stay has replied with this short statement: “We do appreciate that this is inconsistent with information posted previously on the Grimtotem Spirit Guide, and we apologise for any confusion caused.”
- Altitis talks about the ghost wolf hotfix here and here.
- Big Bear Butt Blogger throws his weight behind this issue.
- Dream One Among Many also discusses it.
- Chain Trap wonders if it is really all that bad of a move.
- Finally, Have Bow Will Travel blogs in on the situation.