They promised us old-gods and delivered us plushie-toys. Wow dies with Deathwing.
These reactions are mixed, but there are clearly those people looking forward to the Pandas. Those who aren't also feel that the game's being 'dumbed down', a sentiment it's easy to sympathise with when you consider the move towards more 'casual' content. This is not an expansion adding a new difficulty level for raiding, it's introducing a system to encourage more people to raid starting with what is, let's face it, a Training Mode. That seems a little out of place on a forum that's setting itself up to try and compete with one of the biggest raid 'support' sites: surely you should be pushing the positives to the forefront?
Inevitably, change provokes different reactions from individuals. Those who were already dissatisfied with the situation pre-Expansion announcement may well use this as the 'spur' they need to quit the game altogether: I have no idea what the turnover is of hardcore raiders is but I'm guessing it's quite high, and assuming there are still people willing to replace them, nothing much changes. If we lose a major player over this, if a 'big name' Guild quits as a result... well, there'll be no change there either. If Ensidia and For the Horde have come together to launch a site to compete with Tankspot, that tells me that someone in those Guilds is looking at a picture that is clearly larger than simply the hardcore game, and that means embracing the Pokemon and the Challenge Modes. Change is inevitable, after all, and with change comes the potential to pull in new players who may one day wish to raid. Assuming that Blizzard want to keep encouraging people towards End Game, and assuming that End Game remains attractive, there's a constant stream of potential recruits to keep the whole system ticking over for quite some time to come.
I have to say, I have a measure of sympathy with some of these comments, but as is borne out in the Facebook responses to this post, no-one is making anyone play the game. If it's not fun any more it's time to stop and go do something else. The key of course to the new expansions' overall success will be the unknown quantities: those who will come new to the game and (more importantly) those who may be lured back. Add to this the (as yet) untouched worldwide markets the game has, and I suspect any amount of whining from a vocal minority is unlikely to change any of Blizzards long-term strategies.
Blizzard clearly have a Plan. Only time will tell if it's the right one.