Expired content that no longer serves a purpose after an expansion is nothing new in MMORPGs, but with the phenomenal success of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, the idea of looking back on old content has never really been tackled on this grand of a scale. There is a lot of good raiding content in the "old game" that's practically pointless now. The effort required and the gear gained just isn't worth it now with the game continuing on past what used to be "end game content." As 2.4 million people are discovering, two hours in the Outlands can replace gear that took a year and getting 40 people together to run these instances week after week to get.
Sister site WoW Insider is tackling this situation with suggestions on ways to make old instances relevant again.
- Enabling Heroic mode. Heroic mode makes bosses and enemies harder, but they'll also give better loot.
- Send players back in old instances for quests. A few Outland quests are already sending players back into Azeroth to finish them, and Blizzard could do the same for the old instances, offering special summons or cutscenes.
- Tune them up. Just balance the old content to relate in the new reality of the game.