Blizzard is giving away a $3,000 mount for free and some players are annoyed, here's why they're wrongThe Fel Drake is worth a lot of cash... in theory. Giving it away is a ballsy move.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight is coming in hot, and as you can imagine there’s a big push from the gnomes behind the wheel at Activision Blizzard to ramp up some hype around the launch. They have, after all, been deep in bad PR muck for a while now, and thanks to the bin fire around Overwatch 2, the company needs a win. How it will generate excitement? Giving away a ludicrously expensive mount for free.
The company plans to do so via Twitch drops, a great way to ensure hordes (and alliances) of people flock to livestreams of the new expansion, in theory anyway. Sure you can just stick the stream on, mute the tab, then spend your time doing something else, but the marketing team can still point to the viewership numbers and the game’s high ranking on Twitch and claim success.
Watch the Dragonflight trailer here if you haven't already — you won't get a mount for doing so sadly.
The only issue is they’re giving away the Fel Drake, as well as the Dragon Kite pet. Both were originally obtainable via the now discontinued World of Warcraft tradable card game, and have up until now become largely unattainable for the casual player. With that exclusivity, the drake has become quite the valuable item. Selling for around $3,000 on online marketplaces such as WoW TCG Loot.
This has, as you may have imagined, caused quite a stir among the WoW community, especially mount collectors who have forever been some of the more passionate, dedicated players in the game. For some, the ownership of the Fel Drake was the prize jewel in their mount collection. A true rarity, either bought for a wild amount of real world cash, in game gold, or a lucky pack opening years ago.
“With the addition of the Fel Drake as a Twitch drop. I want to start by saying I don’t have a Fel Drake, but the addition of a TCG mount as a Twitch drop has removed TCG mounts as the final remaining investment to fight gold inflation,” writes RichNasty on the WoW Forums.
“Now, all TCG mounts have the potential of being given away as freebies to the entire WoW community, when previously they were in a limited, finite supply. This means nobody is going to feel comfortable paying millions of gold for a mount that may be given away for free at a later date.”
This is a financial angle on the larger argument raised by those against the Fel Drake Twitch Drop. Over time, mounts like the Fel Drake who aren’t something the average player can obtain, have become the last real status symbol left in WoW. You could argue that Gladiator mounts, which requires a player to reach a high ranking in a limited PvP season, but as even that has been dirtied by a largely uncontrolled boosting scene in World of Warcraft, you‘re left with few truly untainted trophy pieces in a WoW collector's digital mantlepiece.
It doesn't help that you can spend an hour in game and get a mount that looks a million times better.
Those taking this side of the argument are correct in that this is a step that Blizzard hasn’t taken before. However, for every person defending the virtue of exclusive WoW mounts, there is seemingly 10 laughing at the situation, grinning ear to ear as they’re about to get a new mount for free, while tanking the value of pre-existing Fel Drake codes and the collections of an incredibly niche portion of the playerbase.
“Everybody please remember the Fel Drake Twitch Drop is November 28-30, it is very important as many people watch this as possible,” is the title of a thread penned by user Ill_Excuse_997 on the World of Warcraft subreddit. Their stance is one of glee, hoping for this promotion to become hella successful as to encourage Blizzard to continue distributing TCG mounts in future promotions. It is the position of the mountless masses, who clammer for a dragon that looks way worse than many incredibly common mounts already in their collection. They do so for the same reason people like seeing NFT stocks crumble or pretentious modern art go wrong — because it’s funny.
But lets quickly break down why Blizzard would do this. First and most obviously, the vast majority of players will not be affected negatively. Less than 0.1% of players own it, and an incredibly small fraction of players will ever farm the gold required to buy it. It is a move that will lead to an overwhelming uproar of cheers for the majority, and a relative whimper from the collectors.
Secondly, of all the mounts, it’s one that’s already been made accessible some years ago. Back in Mists of Pandaria, players were able to duplicate items and sell them on the auction house. Yes, if detected these items could be deleted and the mounts would vanish from you collection, but nonetheless a wave of far cheaper Fel Drakes flooded the market. If the Fel Drake is a glistening crown atop a players mount collection, it’s made of fool’s gold.
But there's a reason why the free giveaway of the Fel Drake to WoW players doesn’t matter that many may have missed. Mounts don’t matter anymore in WoW. They haven’t for years. With every major patch of the retail version of the game, a dozen or more mounts are often added. Many of them recolours of the same model — a practice that devalues the mounts the moment they become available, because who cares about your creepy hand mount, when I have one that’s the exact same aside from a slight green tinge.
In retail WoW, no one looks at your mount and goes “WoW”, unless you’re AFK on a Swift Nether Drake or something like that, but even with those truly special mounts, the majority of players don’t know nor care why it’s special. Mount saturation killed the value of mounts years ago, this is just one of the bones left over crumbling into dust.
Funnily enough, if you played Classic WoW, you can still experience a bit of the gold ol’ days when mounts mean something. Not the bronze drake — no one ever cared about that — but the Time Lost Proto Drake, or the Black Proto Drake, or Invincible when it comes out! When you see those out in the wild, it actually means something. The Fel Drake hasn’t meant anything to practically anyone in around a decade.
So yeah, go watch a Dragonflight livestream if you want. Get the Fel Drake as a prize! Jump on it in game, fly around on it for a bit, then throw it in the collection tab forever. The only thing Blizzard has done with this promotion is give the majority of players a nice reason to watch the game as it nears to its release date, and perhaps also vandalise the gravestone of actual mount value. But hardly anyone visited it, so whatever.