Gaming is mainstream and the "hardcore" gamers, while still out there and still as boisterous as ever (see any online gaming forum), are the minority. What, you don't really think the majority of the nine million WoW players are hardcore gamers do you? Gaming is major league big business now. It's not like it used to be back in the day (late 80's and early 90's) when a few folks could get together and bang out a game that became a cult hit. It just doesn't work like that anymore. Thus, games must cater to the lowest common denominator, to the largest group of people willing to pay the monthly fees. And that means casual gamers who don't, or more likely can't, spend hours upon hours in game. Thus, the game mechanics (i.e., instances) have to change or the game simply won't survive. It's a matter of economics. ESPECIALLY in the jam packed MMO arena where everyone is fighting in a very limited revenue pool. Even the hardest of hardcore gamers can't play more than a few at any one time.
Plus, the whole "carebear" mentality goes hand in hand with how our society has developed. In our country especially, most everyone (that does not mean ALL people) now expects things to to be given to them. A life, a job, a car, an "epic sword".. whatever. They want it all, want it now, and don't want to work to get it. Sadly, that's a fact and not just the ramblings of a mad man. Why this "entitlement" mentality has evolved is a topic for another time and another place however.
So give the Hardcore Casual artcile "You are not special" a read and let us know your thoughts!