Incoming retardlong post. My apologies.
During The Burning Crusade, WoW had the largest growth of subscription in its history. They didnt cater to casuals, yet, the casuals played it like ever before, without setting foot in the last tier of the expansion, some not even 2nd to last, also some (many) did not even see the first (Karazhan).
The only other thing you had to gear you character was PvP(Arena was kinda free epics, even if you lost 10 matches a week) or 5man HC. The 5 man HC was hard, and if I remember correctly they dropped 1 epic from the last boss. You also had the badge system, but to get badges, you had to do dungoens.
Trade was constantly spammed with LFM "insert 5man dungeon", but other than PvP or Dungeons, you casuals did not have alot to do. Yet, you kept playing.
Wrath came along, with 10m and 25m split, this made Pugging better, and doable in all raids instead of just a selective few like in BC. And since there was not a shared lockout, alot of people from 10m guilds did 25m pugs, thus in alot of the pugs, there were people who were familiar with the content, and not only people who had never killed the boss before. 5 mans HC became a joke however.
Getting gear as a casual in wrath was either Raid or VP, the 5man HC loot was not so viable as it used to be, even tho all loot was epic(?). Becase the ilvl inflation or whatever i should call it started to become a bit heavy already here. Diffrence in first raid ilvl to last.
Cata was pretty much the same, just with lesser pugs due to shared lockout (Worst idea ever IMO). But in the end we were all introduced to the feature we all love, LFR. The non raiding population, for the first time in the history of WoW got to see current content, without needing to do anything really, while it was still current content, and it had loot! Other than this, they also implended alot of non-gear gaining content for people to play, like Darkmoon isle, from the way I understood it at the time, this was content for the "casual", giving them something to do in game.
Now MoP. LFR has been here every tier content, every subscribed player to WoW, has for the first time in its history been able to see all the PvE content in game, something they apparently have always wanted since its launch. And guess what they do, they fucking complain its not good enough. /sigh
Never before have there been more to do in-game both raiding wise and non raiding wise. I mean, as a raider, I can clear the raid 3 times each week if I want to! Yay, that wont burn me out at all!
Non-raid content, there have been alot dailies (personally not a fan), 2-3 isles to farm vanity items on rares ++, On the last added Isle, you can get SoO LFR ready in about 30min after you ding lvl 90. I do agree that the 5man HC gear is horrid, and should be a somewhat viable option to gear a character, as in, add new 5mans like in wrath. HC scenario however, can give you OK gear. Then all tiers of content is available in LFR. Yet, since 11th of february 2005, I still dont understand what non-raiders need raid gear for.
Solo content, we have Brawler's guild (Personally a big fan), Proving Grounds(Like the spectator friendly brawlers better, but a good challenge if you play a spec that scales horrid in low gear, read: fire mage). + all the other solo stuff that has been in game since forever, trying to solo old or current content. Achievment hunting. Grinding reps +++
Now let me tell you my journey in WoW, and why I do not get the entitlement that is around now adays. I did not raid alot in classic, I spent my time in 5mans getting "tier set" and also the upgraded tier 0.5 or what we called it. Pugging onyxia now and then, and at the very end I raided a bit in Zul'Gurub and AQ20 with a guild. This was how I collected gear. 1 week before TBC launch I got my last epic gear to become full epic geared (this was the one thing I strived for the whole era of classic WoW) And damn how good it felt when I achived it. Yet, I had never killed a boss in any of the 40m raids with the exception of Onyxia. I still had an incredible journey, and I wish I one day would become one of those awsome geared players I met on this journey. (I was 15 when WoW launched)
In the TBC, I did just that, applied for a guild and we rose to become the servers best guild. I raided Karazhan, Gruul, Magtheridon, SSC and TK before I i took a break in the raiding, occationally joined for a BT and Hyjal if they lacked a spot, So I got to finnish those raids when they were current aswell. I was 17, and to this date, this was the best time I had in WoW.
Wrath came along, and I quit WoW I dont know how long, one week after launch. When I started playing again, I leveled my char, did some HC's, but personally it felt like I had more to do in classic as a non-raider than i did in Wrath. Got to lvl 80, did some Sartharion/Kara/Malygos pugs, cant remember pugging Ulduar. ICC came along, I did not have the gearscore people wanted, nor any achievment to get into any ICC pug. Luckily, one of my former guild buddies from TBC started a pug, and brought me with him. Did not do a single raid as a member of a guild run, every raid I did was from pug's. The last year of the expansion I played alot, but with a pretty casual playstyle. I started hunting for achievments, and grinding alot of reps, every time I logged on, I had something to do because of this.
Cata came along, I did some casual 10m raiding in the first tier, then joined a 3days a week 4hrs a night 25m raiding guild for the rest of the expansion. 12hours raiding a week, yet, this expansion is probably the expansion I had the least amount of time /played. I logged on to raid, and that was pretty much it. Everything I could think of doing other than raiding, I had pretty much completed in Wrath when I did not raid.
Now, in MoP, I am in the same guild as I were in Cata, tho I did not raid with them until ToT, and now we are progressing in SoO HC. This expansion I have played more than before when I did not raid. I completed all the new reputation grinds (a fuckton of dailies, due to this, I now hate dailies more than I did before, and I've never been a big fan). Yet, I am far from done with achievments, vanity item from rares and whatnot, If I had not been raiding, I would have had more to do ingame, because I would have needed to run LFR and Flex for gear progression aswell. Even tho I do raid, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the expansion that is the most casual friendly to date, but not the expansion that will keep them.
And here is why: In classic, I continued to play because there was still so much to see in the game left for me. Was it a fucking timesink? Yes, but call it nostalgia, i dont care. You always had something to strive for. I ran 5 mans over and over again to get a gearpiece. This, combined with the fact that the game was new and exciting was why people kept playing it. TBC made some changes, getting gear was a bit easier, since all the leveling dungeons had HC versions at lvl 70. People raided all the raids in game, some guilds were progressing in Sunwell while other guild were still progressing Hyjal/BT, then you still had guilds trying to kill Kael or Vashj in SSC/TK, guilds with 10man kept running Kara and Zul aman. And this kept the subscribers. People ALWAYS had something to strive for.
Now, even the "casuals" have seen the end game just a few weeks after Paragon or Blood Legion. We consume the game so much faster in every single aspect of it, no wonder the subs keep dropping. 95%(number out of my ass) of the playerbase has finnished the game 1 month after patch. While before, people still tried to finnish the game before the new expansion arrived.
And I think this is why even "casuals" complain there is not enough to do. Ofc it isnt, you have "finnished" the game.
I dont even know if this post makes sense, I have written it all in quick reply and seeing 5 lines of text as I write, Ive probably repeated myself somwhere. But anyway, thats my 2cents.