Who'd be a game designer, eh? A month or so into Cataclysm, people are already complaining.
It goes like this:
BC players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too hard - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"
Blizzard: "OK - we've listened to your feedback and made gearing up much easier in Wrath via fast-playing heroics and Dungeon-Finder."
Wrath players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too easy - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"
Blizzard: "OK - we've listened to your feedback and made heroics much harder in Cataclysm, so you need a guilded group to complete them and they take several hours."
Cataclysm players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too hard - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"
Meanwhile, the subscriber numbers have climbed steadily and then plateaued at around 12 million, vastly in excess of any other MMO out there.
So what's going on? Is the player base just a bunch of spoiled brats who will complain no matter what Blizzard do?
I don't really think so. The (rather boring) truth, is that a lot of different people play WOW and they want different things from the game. Some want to test their elite gaming skills, some want to interact and socialise with their friends in a stimulating but not ball-breaking game world and some just want to pwn n00bs in PVP. Even worse, not everybody wants the same thing consistently. Some may want to do hard-core raiding a few times a week and potter about chatting the rest of the time.
Blizzard do quite a good job of providing something for each of these competing player-groups, but it's impossible to design a game that is both ultra-hardcore and casual-friendly at the same time. So the people who don't like the current balance make a huge fuss, Blizzard changes the game in response to feedback, then those who liked it the way it was complain and the cycle continues.
The problem here isn't the game, it's the players. We all need to accept that a perfect game for us isn't a perfect game for everybody else and stop making such a fuss when things don't go exactly our way. I liked the casual-friendly style of Wrath - it allowed me to get into raiding when it would otherwise have been impossible for me under BC and Vanilla, but I also know other people who liked raiding in BC but couldn't be bothered with it in Wrath. You simply can't please all of us.
I'd suggest an alternative policy for Blizzard:
Discontented players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too easy/hard/potato-shaped/orange/whatever - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"
Blizzard: "We're professional game designers. We know what we're doing. You have to understand that other people have different opinions and we can't just build a game to suit you alone, or it would have only one subscriber. There are plenty of other MMOs out there if you don't like this one. Feel free to try them and you'll be welcome back any time you decide the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence."