The new World of Warcraft Guardian Cub can be bought at the Pet Store using real money, then sold in-game at the auction house to make WOW money.
The Guardian Cubs are bind-on-equip, which means they're not locked to a character until a character uses them.
In other words, you can spend real money to make WOW money, legitimately, with Blizzard's blessing, for the first time ever.
"While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we're OK with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services," wrote Blizzard on the World of Warcraft website.
"We're OK with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services."Blizzard
"However, please keep in mind that there's never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they'll pay for it. Also, it's important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts.
"While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that's preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling black market and account theft."
Does this signal a bigger change for World of Warcraft? Are free-to-play-style micro-transactions finally creeping in?
"It's too early to say how we'll handle future Pet Store pets," Blizzard added. "We made this change in response to feedback from players looking for alternate ways to get the Pet Store pets, and we're always looking into other opportunities for improvement. We're interested in hearing what players think of the Guardian Cub when it launches, and we hope you'll have fun with this new flying friend."
The Guardian Cub is a small, cute version of the Winged Guardian mount. It's got a flaming mane and flaming tail. From the Pet Store a Guardian Cub costs $10. How they'll price on the auction house you'll have to wait and see - 100g? They occupy a bank/bag slot each; they're not stackable.
In other news, BlizzCon next week.