I believe Blizzard should perhaps hire the guy above. I mean, they hired people who incorporated pokem0n to the game for heaven's sake. The guy above would be a refreshing addition to the people who implemented the Panda/Pokemon concept. I mean, it can't really go any worse than this.This kind if thread is, in my opinion, representative of just how much out of touch the online communitites of the game are with the actual community of the game itself; as well as how uninformed about the structure of companies.
Ghostcrawler is one of the lead developers of the game, true. But he is, at best, one among several people that make the big decisions at Blizzard, if even that. He is just given an assignment most of the time, to be carried out under certain conditions, with certain resources. And his is only one part of the game which he supervises and leads; one among many parts. So what do you expect from him? If the direction of the game is decided to be towards a certain place his work is to carry out his part of the steering, nothing else.
Has he failed partly? Oh yes. A lot actually. He has removed so much of the uniquness of classes and specialisations. Dumped down theory-crafting elements. Almost eradicated sandbox gameplay. Streamlined the #&$% out of the game, and has cut so many elements that most of the classes and specialisations feel tasteless, unexciting, routinely "okish", safe, predictable, restrained. He has substituted the excitement one should feel by playing a game with logical equality in performance, not! balance.
He has failed to understand that most players don't give a damn about balance; they just want to have fun. And that by catering to some echo chamber-effect driven minority that hangs around forums, he has missed the vast majority of players that don't even visit sites about the game. Oh yeah: MMOC's 36k active posters are nothing compared to the game's 7 million + players, or the past 12 million. They are not even representative of the community, because they are not chosen randomly. Yet he caters to them, and their never-ending conversations about "balance," whatever that is supposed to mean.
Even worse, he is a professional that should have long ago understood one simple thing: there can be no balance between two or more different elements. Only identical elements can be equal. So the best thing to do is strive for some semblance of equality, while keeping fun and excitement as his most important goal. But then again, even though instanced gameplay is far from what most players enjoy in the game, it's what the company is trying to promote, because it's easier to develop content for, and cheaper; and of course in instanced content you need balance for PvP, and absence of uniqueness for 10-man raiding in PvE. And so, whether he wants to or not, Ghostcrawler has been tasked to play his part is steering the game to be more accomodating towards those activities.
Which leads to the actual reason why the game is declining so fast in subscriptions: fatigue. Not that much from the age of the game, but its content: its focus on instanced content in both PvE and PvP. Such content is desirable from high-performance players; actually the closer it is to a MOBA or a fighting game in an arena the better; but it's boring to most players of the game. Because the vast majority doesn't care about raiding or arena. They joined the game when it was an open-world role-playing game. When there was a vast world for them to play in, adventure and explore. Vanilla was the period of time that the game met its highest rise in players in percentages; and the time when, barring a small minority of ever-complaing high-performance players or their wannabe followers, most players actually enjoyed the game; they were genuinely excited about logging in and playing, as opposed to routinely logging in to do their online chores nowadays.
That's what made the game such a raving success: its open world. Not the dungeons. If it relied on dungeons then it would have stopped at the usual 200k subscribers mark of all other similar mmorpgs; perhaps gone a bit further because of its accessiblity. But that would be it. The several-million-players success story was built on the one thing WoW did better than any mmorpg until then, or since: its tenths of zones, with their thousand of quests, its exploration, and sense of a vast world filled with immense potential. Not the grind for points and shinies that it has become now.
And it's quite obvious really: Shenmue, Driver, Zelda, Yakuza, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto; do you know what they all have in common? Hugely successful games. With an open world theme. Most recently Skyrim, with its horrible combat and clunky animations, surpassed 10 million copies sold, in an era where piracy is huge, on PCs especially. So the actual number of people that have playeed it? Yeah, one can only imagine. 10 million + players. Which other open-world role-playing game once had such numbers? Hmm....That's the genre WoW belonged to in Vanilla, and that's the genre it has forsaken, and a major reason of why it has declined so much in popularity. Shinies instead of actual open-world content is only going to take you so far. And this seems to be the extent of the trick's longevity. Most players are just bored and tired of grinding points instead of playing a proper open-world role-playing game. So they leave.