Liore from Herding Cats has an interesting post about cash shops in MMOs and how they can impact on some non-standard measurements of achievement. In this context raid progression or PVP ranking are often considered as measurements of a characters development. However, at least in the past, there has been other achievements not always linked to the above. Status and pride could also come from having a hard-to-obtain title, rare pet or mount.
When I came back to Rift last year for the one year deal I received a lot of compliments and questions about my spectral warhorse mount. It was a very rare drop from rifts in the very first monthly event after Rift launched (wiki link: the River of Souls). I love this mount and continue to use it as my only mount on this character when I play, I did see others after the event but coming back a year later it was even rarer since there were fewer players from the launch era still in the game.
They since added other spectral-type mounts into the game and also to the store.
Although the horse I have still remains rare, the spectral effect that made it stand out is not at all rare anymore. Personally I wouldn’t buy such a mount from the store, and I wouldn’t be that motivated to grind the event for one either – the value of the warhorse is in its rarity.
As Liore raises in her post there has been plenty of controversy during the wave of Free to Play conversions among MMOs that the cash store should not offer shortcuts to character power progression (a.k.a ‘pay to win’). It is interesting however that there has been less controversy over the potentially negative effect of cash stores on the players who are primarily collectors, achievers or explorers.