I honestly believe that what Blizzard is doing is part of a bigger thing. And no, not a bigger thing involving Blizzard alone. This is simply a direct consequence of how people want their business being served.
How it used to be
After WW2 a lot of people had lost everything they had ever owned. They had to start over with nothing, nothing but a bad memories of the war, and longing for how it once had been.
But not all was lost, people pulled together, and by helping eachother they built up the world as they had once known it once more. Back then, people saved. If they needed a new washing machine they saved up for it. They twisted and turned around every penny twice, until they had enough to finally get that washing machine. And for most this would be a second hand washing machine, since a new one was way too expensive.
And they would take great care of their properties. In fact, we can still see some of these consequences today...on TV where they're often being laughed at. When people are absolute pack rats. Not capable of getting rid of anything they have ever owned. I feel that this often comes from a sense of 'you'll never know when you'll need it' and 'waste not, want not' type of thinking.
Finally getting something after you saved up for it for a long time gives great satisfaction. Finally getting that Baron mount after you've ran the stupid instance 200 times or more is a massive moment of glory, and one you'll never forget. That feeling of triumph that you finally did it. You persisted, and it finally dropped. And you couldn't be more proud of yourself while you're riding it through Dalaran to show off your gorgeous mount.
More and more people want to just get what they want, and get it now. When they get tired of it, they throw it away and get a new one. I know people who wear their socks 4 or 5 times and then throw them away since they just want new ones.
In this society of 'want it now' I am surprised that anybody can be surprised at instant gratification objects such as the Pandaren Monk and LiLKT. People don't want to grind forever to get their item, they want it now. And they have money to spare so if it is offered they will get it. In fact, the world is in a big regression because people don't even have money to spare, but still get it. They're very capable of just getting a loan to get what they want.
All those people buying TVs on a store credit? You really don't need a TV to live, or survive. And often they still have a perfectly fine TV standing, just not the newest one that they want.
Blizzard is being the perfect business in offering what society wants. Society wants stuff, and wants it now. They're willing to work a little for it, but not too much. Time invested? What time, we don't have time, we all have to work ridiculous hours (and USA is worse than the EU is still).
So no time, enough money (apparently), why would you not go out and buy stuff for the tiny amount of free time you have. From a business point of view Blizzard is following the number 1 rule. Give your customer what they want.
Long TermPeople often haven't gotten their weekends planned, how can you even expect them to think long-term? Most of us don't know the word anymore. Thinking about what happens next year when you do something now? Nuhuh.
This is also exactly the reason why the 'Brew of the Month' club was changed. Because people didn't look ahead. But once it was gone they looked back and went 'oh crap, I should've', Blizzard being the good business person took care of their customer's worries and solved it. It was not as if the achievement became impossible, no it took longer, and that would've been bad for business since their customers don't want to take longer, they want it now.
So is it out of the picture that Blizzard will sell gear? Currently it is, customers wouldn't want it yet. There is just enough of the 'You should work for it if you want something' feelings left in most of us to not want gear selling in WoW yet.
Will that change? Maybe.
We are in a recession at the moment (though I sometimes think 'how bad can it be when people can still buy new TVs instantly if their old one breaks'), so maybe eventually people will go back to saving up for what they want, but for the moment instant gratification is the tune.
What do I think?I think I don't have to go along if I don't want to. I have a choice. Will I go along? No idea, probably, I do like that pet, a lot. Where is my line? No idea, we'll see it when I get there. Should I worry about it now?..hell no. There's other stuff to worry about, stuff that will keep me busy enough.
And if Blizzard does start selling gear...well, we'll see about it then. There's other games on the move, and there's always the choice to not play. Did I mention that I've been playing Torchlight more than WoW this week? Yah...