I dont think Vanilla WoW sucked for the time, It was there, so you played it. With the way WoW has changed the MMO market, I think fewer games can have success. You cant start another MMO like WoW did, because now people expect the best right off the bat, where as WoW had many years to learn from its mistakes and develop. People want instant gratification now, and dont want to wait and give a new MMO a chance.
I also think back then the game was focused less on stats, mechanics, balance, items levels and more about a server community experience. Anyone who played early Vanilla, back before Cross Realm anything, could tell you that you knew mostly everyone on the server. Because the game made you develop relationships with your fellow players, and your reputation actually meant something. If you were known as a ninja looter, nobody grouped with you, etc. Now, you are lucky if you know 1/2 the people in your own guild.
I also think that the game has changed for the worse now because basically once you hit max level, the entire game can be played from Orgrimmar/Stormwind. I personally miss the days when you had to run through a gauntlet of Alliance waiting for inside the gates leading through the tunnel to Molten Core. Or seeing people fail at jumping down the cliff and missing the platform and ending up dying in lava. Only Vanilla WoW players will know those experiences, and I dont think that is a good thing. Having an epic mount used to be a huge accomplishment, and it took alot of farming after your max level to get one. Back when the riding skill was cheap, and the mounts were what was expensive. Now, the only time I use a mount is to fly from the Bank to the Auction House.
Sure, it took a while to form a group to run anything, + travel time, but I think it was better because you had to interact with people on your own server. Now, just hit two buttons and join a dungeon. Get in, get out, dont say a word the whole time, buy gear when youre done. I was by no means a top 1% raider back in the day, I got to see C'Thun, but hardly any originally Naxx. I wouldnt have called myself an Elitist, but I do think gear now is wayyy to easy to get. I hit lvl 85 on my alt tank about 2 weeks ago, now he is ilvl384 already. Back in the day, good gear was something you had to join a guild and work for.
played since Molten core came out, got really addicted to the game (i was 11 or 12 years old), it was so good, when i was like 14 TBC came out, still just as addicted and thought it was amazing, wotlk came out, still addicted and thought it was fun not amazing, cata came out played it a while during the first tier, then quit, it sucked ass, still does, maybe MoP will be great i dont know but imo, i had the most fun in vanilla and TBC, tho ulduar was really great, Vannila had all the mystery, it was hard, you had to farm alot and earn your epics, but man what a feeling when you got one, now you go to a guy and get one for free....., everyone got epics and looks the same, its not fun.
So, Vanilla sucks ?!
That surely explains why it made 8 million subs. /end sarcasm
It wasn't vanilla that sucked. Just that everything after TBC has been in a steady down hill slope when it comes to entertainment and fun. Granted that all subjective but at this point, the down hill trend is is more like bottom of the barrel gaming.
But vanilla... Those days were so much better but the sad thing is those days will never be seen again I don't think.