Why Casuals Whine: The Paradigm Shift at 60 As for casuals vs. raiding, here's what casuals want.
Log on whenever they feel like it. Might be for 5 hours, but they want to be able to log on when they want, not because someone told them to log on.
Either make some progress solo or get a group together and go do something for the next 3-4 hours that furthers their character.
Expecting this is not unreasonable, considering the entire 1-59 PvE game has trained them to think this is feasible. They don't want to have to deal with scheduling when to play the game when they haven't had to for the last 59 levels...
The paradigms for both raiding and PvP break this expectation.
In Raiding, casuals no longer can log on when they want. Instead they must re-arrange their lives around a game, a concept that many of them find paradoxical. "If I'm playing a game to have fun, why should I rearrange my life around the game?" "Why should I have to turn down a spontaneous invitation to go out with my friends because I have to attend a raid? Why couldn't I just attend that raid the next day? At level 45 I didn't have to go to Uldaman only at set times."
A good solution to this is changing the lockout system drastically, going so far as to eliminate lockout entirely, instead replacing it with a concept I like to call "lootout." If you loot a boss, you can't loot that boss for another (what the current timer is for the raid). If you loot Ragnaros you won't be able to loot Ragnaros for another 7 days, but you'll be able to loot something you need off of Garr in a different raid.
This would be a huge step forward as it would remove the regimented and schedule aspect of raiding that is a big turn off to many casuals. It isn't that they don't have the play time, it's that they oftentimes don't know when that play time will be, because of commitments to work, family and friends. WoW is something they greatly enjoy. They can't rearrange their schedule around WoW, however.
They could play WoW when they wanted to from level 1-59 and don't understand why, for raiding, WoW requires them to play at certain times not of their choosing. Basically WoW's own game mechanics are coming back to haunt it.
A similar problem appears in PvP.
You rank up based on your standing per week, which means if you miss a week entirely due to going on a business trip, you derank, losing all your progress. This idea is abhorrent to the game mechanics that WoW has from levels 1-59. If a casual doesn't log on for a week at level 45, he doesn't LOSE levels. Instead, he gains rested xp so that when he comes back he will be able to more effectively GAIN levels. In PvP, it's backwards from what WoW has taught casuals to expect, and thus they whine. They want to be able to log on whenever they want, play for 1-6 hours, and make progess. Right now if you try PvPing like that, you'll peak out and Rank 6 or so, and not be able to go any further until you devote more and more time to PvP, until Rank 13/14 when you're going to have to be playing 100+ hours to get those top standing spots just to rank up.
Solution: Move to a progression system more like XP, where sum contribution influences rank, not quantum contribution per week.
The current raiding and PvP game is completely different from what WoW has taught players to expect from levels 1-59 and that's why they're complaining.
A tiny side note here: the Tier 0.5 quest mechanics are excellent. Casuals can log on at their choosing and make progress towards compleing their set. This is in tune with the level 1-59 game and is a huge step in the right direction.
WoW has dramatically expanded the size of the MMOG market; most WoW players, I would venture to guess, have never played any other MMOG. That means they don't understand when you say 'oh well it was like this in EQ' and don't understand why it has to be that way. WoW was advertised as casual-friendly, and it is, amazingly so, up to level 60. Then suddenly the game rudely changes its primary game mechanics at level 60, much to the surprise and disappointment of the casual player.
Good points in general. Changing to a more pickup-friendly endgame experience, however, would require a restructuring of the current raid reward mechanics. Most of the goodies you want are single drops off bosses, which must be assigned to a single individual out of a twenty or forty person group. While random assignment is technically fair, it has a huge variance in individual fairness over the short term, so people develop point systems that act as smoothing functions for the loot received.
In order for pickup-style raiding to work, the reward mechanic needs to be smoothed by the game itself, not by player agreement. Moving toward raid rewards based on faction (which everyone gets) and token collection (which breaks up a single item into a bunch of smaller drops, effectively keeping the mean amount of loot you get constant while reducing the variance) are steps in this direction, but to truly make raiding with different groups of people something other than a total crapshoot, basically all the raid rewards need to be moved to this system, with individual uber-drops eliminated. (Alternately, the game could implement some sort of built-in point system, which players can pay each other in order to have the rights to a single good drop—a sort of second currency only useful for BoP items, enforced by game mechanics, though there's potential market abuse issues there unless it's very carefully designed.)