In the very early incarnation of the patch 5.3 PTR, hunter stables have been expanded to accomodate up to 50 hunter pets. This awesome feature was discovered by a score of hunters almost as soon as the PTR was available, though I believe Kalliope reported on it first.
With this change hunters will now be able to collect up to 55 different pets, with 50 in the stable and 5 in the active pet slots.
In the comments to this news at the WHU, Arth made an apt observation:
What indeed, hunters? Let's take a moment to look at why hunters need so ridiculously many stable slots, and why we got them.
Min. range is gone, our specs are fairly well-tuned and are all viable, we aren't terrible in PvP, and now this. What the hell are we supposed to complain about?
Why we need more stable slots
If you're anything like me, you're probably thinking, "I don't even use all the slots I have now. I'm certainly not going to fill 50 of them!"
Until we can tame druids and tame elves (not that there's much difference there) all those new slots will sit empty on Frostheim. And even if we could tame elves I wouldn't put them in the stable -- I'd just tame them and then abandon them just to watch them cry as they realize that nothing and no one in this world loves them.
Elves aside, it's true that 25 slots is plenty to hold everything that we mechanically need to play the game. You can get every raid buff you need for whatever spec you want to play with 13 pets (check out a list of the 13 hunter pets for buffs). If you also PvP, you'll likely want another half dozen or so pets for various PvP strategies. This still leaves you a few slots plus your active five for pet models that just catch your fancy.
However, as we've discussed before, Blizzard has introduced more and more pet taming challenges: unique pet skins that are either exceedingly rare (spirit beasts), or particularly challenging to tame. Masses of hunters have risen to these challenges to collect these pets ... but there are more pets obtainable through taming challenges alone than there are stable slots.
It's perfectly reasonable to want a place to keep your trophies. After all, Blizzard provided this content; it was successful in driving hunters to want to engage with the content; now those hunters should be allowed to keep the rewards of defeating the content. Fair is fair.
Blizzard has said no in the past
One of the most interesting things about the stable slot addition is that Blizzard has told us in the past that we're probably not getting more stable slots any time soon -- and we heard this even after the launch of MoP and the new pet taming challenges it brought.
Lead Systems Designer Ghostcrawler famously said on Twitter that hunters shouldn't be cat-hoarding ladies:
But one of the great things about the Blizzard design staff is they are very willing to revisit and reconsider their decisions. And sometimes it seems they are even willing to go against their own opinions in the face of overwhelming community feedback.
.@macrologia Taming should be a decision. There are plenty of "collect all" achievements. Hunters aren't crazy cat hoarding ladies.- Greg Street (@Ghostcrawler) September 8, 2012
Obligatory warning: it's just the PTR
Keep in mind that this is just the PTR: it's not official, it's not something that Blizzard has promised us we'll get, and it's a very, very early phase of the PTR as well. I have tried pinging Ghostcrawler on Twitter (as have the dozens of retweets) but we haven't heard an official response yet.
That said, I think we're pretty safe on this one. The existence of the extra slots on the PTR clearly means Blizzard has coded it in, and if they tried to pull it now the outcry would be overwhelming. I think the cats are out of the bag on this one. All 50 of them.
Unless the real reason for the added slots has nothing to do with community feedback. Maybe it's because they're going to introduce 50 new rare pets ...
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?