There is a lot to be said about the vocal minority, but blizzard was wrong to listen to the people that wanted to make the game “hard” again.
A lot of people miss the point that the complexity of the game in vanilla was not because the end game encounters were harder, but the game was not as refined as it is now. It was exponentially less accessible.
I was WoW for the first time while I was living in Michigan. The person showing me the game was one of the developers I worked with and I cannot even remember what class he was playing. All I remember from that first look at the game was the obscene amount of buttons available to you and that you were penalized by having to walk back to your body. I was torn between trying UO or WoW back then, but FPSs were more my addiction back then, that and gunbound.
I did not actually play WoW until BC and the little endgame I got to see was limited. It wasn’t until Wrath that I really started to be able to raid and experience the end game and by this point we had the LFD, the Token gear system and just overall a smoother user experience. I did experience dungeons where CC had to be used before, and even some of the fights where you had to use multiple people performing various tasks that created a lot more complexity to encounters. Ulduar was no pushover by any means, but encounters in that expansion, even ToC which I did not enjoy all that much were engaging and difficult but rewarding.
As I have noted before Cataclysm separated the casual from the raiders big time. With the lack of content and heroics being challenging again you really damaged the casual groups that had mixed skills in their ranks. The troll heroics did not do us any favors because most people that has seen the places before were not engaged by them story wise, and most casual players would cause death after death because the trash was extremely unforgiving. I believe most players in WoW sit in the dungeon world for quite some time hoping that they can raid but not having the time to invest on it. When those dungeons are not a source of fun for the people that already have the gear, good luck with trying to get people to go with you to those places.
The LFR and the new dungeons are completely opposite to what the rest of Cataclysm was. It is not that they are overly simple, because they are really not. The ramp up though is not as high as it was the rest of the expansion and you can still have fun inside of them. They are quick, they are fun, and they allow you to once again play with your friends.
Most of the hardcore raiders I knew stopped playing the game with Cataclysm. Once those players have moved on, who is the audience? The casuals. It makes no sense for a company like Blizzard to create content that only 1% of the population gets to see. Sure, that might have been the case before, but when that number turns into 5-10% during Wrath, there is no point to dial complexity back up and saying… you know what you guys don’t deserve to see this because you don’t have the skills. Enter Firelands nerf, enter LFR, enter new shorter dungeons.
Three difficulty levels is a great model. I will probably still be a normal/raid achievement raider. Knowing I can have fun with my friends is more important to me, and the LFR and new dungeons clearly show that Blizzard gets it. Make things too difficult and lose players.