Thats the way i see it too... i cannot see why the OP seems to think a new patch is the start of a significant period on Wow history. Its simply a couple of new features being thrown into the Wow universe, features which are in response to ongoing problems that the Wow community has been crying to Blizzard about for literally.. YEARS.
The low-pop realm and low-pop faction issue has been around for over 5 years. And its arguable if the new 'Virtual realms' system will actually fix the problem. Afterall, do u think this new feature will hit the ground in perfect working order? Im pretty sure there will be a multitude of glitches which will annoy the hell out of alot of players. Sure, the low-pop realm victims can probably handle added pain to their miserable gaming experience for the past few years, so i guess they can endure weeks of glitches right...
As for the 'Flex' raiding... does anyone really think this feature was even needed?
It looks to me like Blizzard are trying to get as many players as possible to raid by inventing so many raiding formats that everyone will surely drop into it. They know that the main selling point Wow has over all the other games is the raiding, i cant argue with that. But theyre making such a joke of Wows best feature by watering it down and feeding it to the playerbase with so many options its making a mockery of the whole thing...
Rather than creating any new content theyre just re-mashing old content into as many mutations as they possibly can... does anyone really think these are steps forward?
I haven't read too much into the virtual realm thing, but IMO it really seems like blizzard should just merge realms already - it appears they likely don't because they make A LOT of money from realm changes, but giving a few cross realm features isn't cutting the mustard lol.
But yeah I definitely agree, flex raiding is the latest effort to water down one of the most interesting areas of the game. The ToC days of running the same instance 3 or 4 times wasn't interesting, why would this change? I get this is probably a money saver for blizz, but considering how successful the game has been, it would be awesome if they put some of that money back into it (or more than they have), and give real content for people: new 5 mans, add interesting features to professions, make rep grinds that you can't finish in 2 weeks and that give gear that doesn't cost IMO would be an interesting start.
Casual isn't even the right word to use here, but obviously there's a crowd in the game that gets upset if they can't beat certain types of content on the first try, but then they end up getting bored with that content after a few months if it's nerfed into oblivion. I think the answer lies in making content that can slowly ramp them up to raids, challenging 5 mans that do drop upgrades - not just stuff from LFR, where you then go on to do just another version of the same raid you already did lol.