We had quite the firey argument yesterday here on the site -- first, Adam postulated that raiding was so easy we didn't even need to track it, and then I responded by saying that anyone who'd already beat the raid content was just going too fast. And now we have a response from Ghostcrawler (even though he beat us to the punch anyway by posting on Wednesday -- that's just how awesome he is). "If you're 80 already," he says on the forums, "you are a relatively hardcore player."
That will ruffle a few feathers, and I should know, because I ruffled a few of the same feathers yesterday. But the stats back GC up -- it's true that most of the players in the game haven't gotten to 80 yet, and of course it doesn't mean that you're a no-life loser if you're 80; it just means that you're faster than the average player. Congrats.
But in the hopes of actually bringing this whole thing home to a place we can all agree on without flaming each other, let's take a look at the new way of doing the endgame: the regular, show up-and-fight PvE content is now for casual players. Ulduar will be harder than the current endgame, says GC, but it still won't be as hard as AQ40 and the original Naxx were in their day. And for the hardcore players, Blizzard is offering achievements and special runs -- have you finished Sartharion with three drakes yet, he asks? Have you finished all of the achievements yet (and if you have, let us know, because we'd love to post about you)? There are really hardcore, really challenging things to do in the game, still, and Blizzard is working on offering appropriate rewards for them, says GC. But the average endgame is no longer the domain of people who raid three times a week or more, and that's the way Blizzard wants it.