Jinxed Thoughts talked about Blizzard's desire to smooth the first 30 minutes of gameplay for more casual players. She espouses a view that I think is pretty common among experienced WoW players:
People around me basically go into two different categories - the ones that know games because they enjoy them and the ones that don't know games because they don't enjoy them. The latter ones probably wouldn't enjoy WoW no matter how easy it was at the start because the whole idea of running around and killing monsters on a computer simply does not appeal to them. ... She had no idea on how to handle the spells, although there were only two or so, or what to do with quests. I find it really hard to see how you could make the game so easy so that she would be interested in playing. Am I evil to say that people who can't get through the first 30 minutes of a game that is as simple as WoW should be trying something else instead? Can WoW ever be the learning grounds for people who've never touched a game before?
While I sympathize a bit with this view, here's the thing: it is not trivial to start playing WoW, even before you get in game. You have to buy a copy or download a multi-gig client. You have to set up and create a Battle.net account.
People who don't want to play WoW don't do those things. If someone goes to the time and effort of installing WoW, then they are interested in playing WoW. Maybe because they know people who play, and want to see if they can join them. Maybe because they want to try an MMO. Who knows?
But the point is that just by getting to character creation, they have demonstrated a significant interest in playing the game. They want to like the game, if only to justify the time and money spent setting it up.
This situation is not like various television networks dumbing down sci-fi shows, in order to appeal to people who never watch sci-fi. I think that's what we're scared of, that our game will be weakened in a vain attempt to appeal to people who have no interest in sci-fi.
But I think the people who Blizzard is targeting are not those uninterested people. They're new people, most likely new to computer gaming, that is true. But they have demonstrated interest. The simple act of getting, installing, and setting up an account for WoW shows that.
Some game has to be the first real game for new gamers. I think WoW is the best for that because of its network effects. It's totally understandable that a new gamer would want to play the game her friends are playing. If encouraging that new player takes more hand-holding at the lower levels, then I am all for it.
My guild, Ad Infinitum, is looking for DPS. (Though we could always use another healer or tank.) We're a 25-man guild. We raid Wed/Sun/Mon from 7-11pm PST. We're currently 1/7 Heroic Firelands.
We would really like a couple more regular raiders. Apparently, you can 23-man Heroic Shannox. Heroic Ryolith, not so much.