Suzina at Kill Ten Rats confessed that she bought gold to purchase dual specialization on her first WoW character at level 40. For the purposes of this post, let us ignore the whole "buying gold" aspect of the story. What's much more puzzling to me is why Suzina felt she had to have dual-spec at all.
To me, it seems that Blizzard put the 1000g price tag on dual-spec specifically to signal that dual-spec was optional. That you didn't need it while leveling your first character, and was more of an extra for experienced players leveling an alt. And I agree with this view. You don't need dual-spec until heroics at max level. Before then you can tank or heal in any spec. Every class has the basic tools necessary available to all specs.
Sometimes it seems like this genre has no concept of the term "optional". Something is either absolutely necessary, or it is useless. There doesn't seem to be any in-between. Another example is professions. Professions used to be more or less optional. But many people complained that professions were useless, and profession perks were added. Now, having two professions is mandatory, just for the extra profession-specific perks.
There is a huge debate on the EJ Benefactor forum about the state of Wrath endgame. The people in Royalty guilds are very unhappy because they feel that--to be competitive--they are forced to do 10-mans, 25-mans, alt runs, and daily heroics. Because every one of these activities has a small benefit, they all become necessary and no longer optional. 10-mans give extra Emblems and some Best-in-Slot gear. Daily heroics give extra Emblems. Alt runs grant you extra attempts on attempt-limited bosses.
And yet, if these activities have no benefit, they become worthless and will not be done at all. There is no in-between, no state where sometimes you do a 10man, and sometimes you don't. You either do the 10-man every chance you get or you never do it at all. Sometimes it feels like players are completely unable to moderate themselves.
Is it possible to design elements that are optional and yet have decent rewards? Or should Blizzard be heavy-handed and formally restrict players from going overboard? Should they combine 10-man and 25-man lockouts? Should they restrict dual-spec to level 80s?
Maybe it's better for the designers to assume that players will have no sense of moderation or sanity, and will take every possible step to gain any potential benefits. Then design the game to severely limit the amount of possible steps to keep players from hurting themselves.