I guess we've got confirmation now of Blizzard's priorities. Howitzer's thread saying goodbye to people has been deleted.
It wasn't a troll. He barely even stated his reasons for going. He merely said goodbye. There was no possible reason for its' deletion other than that Blizzard do not want any kind of coherent fellowship among players of this game. They don't care about positive social interaction, or trying to foster it. They simply want to take our money.
With this, the recent chronic instability of the (particularly Oceanic) realms, and the implementation of the Arena Tournament servers, the repetition of Chilton's endgame from Ultima Online is now laid bare.
1) Create a singular, static, "black hole" attraction within the game, with no form of progression past it. In UO's case, this was Dungeon Doom. In WoW's case, it's the Arena.
2) Force both developers and players to focus purely on this single element of the game, to the absolute exclusion of all others. Because of the new Sunwell dailies, this is starting to happen. Trade in the game is grinding to a halt. Overinflation in the currency is rampant. Participation in 5 man PvE is at an all time low, and raiding is becoming exceptionally difficult due to the degree of instability on the non-AT servers. Eventually, all roads within the game will lead back to a single destination; the Arena.
3) Wreck it and run. Milk as much money as possible from the game before the black hole sucks in and destroys every other element of the game, the final few stragglers of the playerbase leave, and the whole thing crashes and burns. We're already seeing this with the dedicated AT servers, which cost additional money to play over and above the conventional monthly subscription.
The instability of the conventional servers is something I've already mentioned, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are being deliberately sabotaged in order to try and force people to use the AT servers instead.
If it isn't deliberate, it still hints at truly gross incompetence. The stability of World of Warcraft's servers has never been what I'd call bulletproof, but the problems that have plagued the game since 2.4 are worse than I've seen them at any other time while playing this game.
Why is Blizzard doing this?
It's because the majority of the game's initial development team left shortly before the release of the Burning Crusade. Wrath of the Lich King is going to be a dog, because the company barely has an art production team left. They are thus unable to produce further PvE content.
If they're going to continue to make money from the game, therefore, they need something entirely static; a mousewheel that doesn't go anywhere. That is exactly what Chilton has given them, with the Arena.
This also confirms what I have suspected for some time now.
Tom Chilton is the MMORPG industry's answer to Jack Kevorkian. The man desperately needs to be banned from the industry, by international law if possible. ;-)
World of Warcraft is going to be the second game which this individual will have been responsible for destroying. Someone needs to make sure he isn't able to do it to a third.
EDIT:- More proof the divergence between pre- and post-TBC WoW can be found here:-
By comparing these two lists of names, you will discover that these two products were made by two almost entirely different groups of people. In the original list, Jeff Kaplan's name is another that is nowhere to be found, yet he and Tom Chilton are both listed as Lead Developers for TBC.
My conclusion is that WoW pre- and post-TBC are two almost entirely different games, with the latter having radically different goals to the former.
I stay because, in truth, I want to play WoW. However unfortunately, TBC is the only thing left in its' place.