I think that raiding as a preferred playing style in MMOs is on a long downwards spiral. There’s really no trend to show that people are dying to spend more time in tight knit raid guilds with regular weekly raid nights, far from it, the trends are towards more solo and casual play.
And although more people than ever before have been able to raid in Wrath, that just means that people who hadn’t seen raids before might now be able to decide, “Well, that was OK but never again.” Especially if opportunities for PUG raids or casual raiders are reduced in the new expansion, which is likely for the first few months at least. (10 man raids are more sensitive to people being able to commit to regular weekly raids, not less because they’re likely to have fewer people ‘on the bench’.)
Rohan commented recently that he sees issues with the new rated battlegrounds too, and I think he’s right on the money with this one. I particularly like his categories of transient vs extended group content — eg. a PUG is a transient group which forms for a single session, and a raid group is an extended group which forms with the expectation of regular weekly/ daily assaults on extended raid content.
So what are the casual players to do if they aren’t able or willing to commit to something as long term as a regular raid group or battleground group? And how about people who are bored of raiding because they’re bored of the regularity of the whole thing, what can they do to break up the tedium?
I think that WoW, for better or worse, is tied to this form of endgame and will continue to cater to it until the last server is turned off (ie. possibly not in my lifetime!) but people tiring of raiding is an opportunity for some more agile developer to ask, again, what is an MMO really all about? Is it just PvP over territory again and again and again or raiding? Is it just adding more solo grinds? Or could it be something else?
Or perhaps people will just dip into more of the F2P games, play a bit until something else comes along, and endgame as such will be only for the ultra hardcore. (As opposed to just the hardcore as it is now.)