World of Warcraft forum thread, and Blizzard's Bashiok stepped in to comment on the title's move toward accessibility. "What we've always been trying to do," he said, "what WoW has always been about (and to which much of its success is due) is to make an accessible MMO."
Bashiok understands the older, so-called "masochistic" style of gameplay, but he says that MMOs are trending away from this in an effort to attract rather than repulse gamers. "I think that changing mechanics to be more reasonable and less punishing is an improvement, not a detriment, to games in general... But I feel we're lucky to now be in an age where those ideals (intended or not) are giving way to actual fun, actual challenge, and not fabricating it through high-reach requirements."
While Cataclysm's difficulty levels are a matter of some controversy these days, it's undeniable that Blizzard has tuned World of Warcraft to become more user-friendly since 2004. Bashiok notes that even at launch, WoW was radically different compared to its contemporaries: "Anyone that looks back at the game at launch and wishes it was as challenging now as it was then is not aware of the painstaking effort put into making this game accessible as compared to its predecessors."