This is as much addressed to the supporters of WotC as it is to supporters of Blizzard's current practices regarding the MMORPG World of Warcraft. I'm not arrogant enough to believe any of them actually read this blog, so this is more my way of getting things that have been allowed to build up for far too long, off my chest.
First off, I don't hate you. I'd very much rather not be your "enemy" and would very much like to see your business succeed so you can continue to create things I never would even think of. I'm not however going to support you when you dismantle everything I actually DO like about your products, in order for you to cater to casuals(especially when, in doing so, you choose to demean or demonize anyone who prefers the older way of doing things). I realize that you need more customers in order to make more money, and I realize that the people you're wanting to attract probably have more money than I do. I also realize that you are a business and thus the bottom line is all that matters. But you also need to realize that you ARE dealing with a niche market, and a lot of people in said niche market don't WANT it to grow. Especially not in the ways you're trying to force it. Seeking to placate the casuals doesn't have to mean that you need to alienate the grognards.
First off, to Blizzard: I don't actually know what's involved in setting up or maintaining one of your servers, but it would go a long way towards retaining your long term customer base(and probably attract even more new blood) if you'd set up a few "legacy" servers where anyone who wants to do so, can play Vanilla, TBC, or (with the upcoming xpac) WotLK without feeling like they're being FORCED to buy the latest Expansion. After all, getting $15 a month is better than getting $0 a month because you've strong-armed people into quitting, since they don't want to shell out the $50 for the newest xpac that they strongly believe(right or wrong) that they're not going to enjoy it anyway. You'll even likely get an additional income rush as people pay to have their characters "downgraded" and transferred to one of these new legacy servers. Heck, I wouldn't even mind paying a bit extra for the downgrade if it meant never having to see another DK! I'm even more likely to to continue to play, and more likely to buy the upcoming xpac if you were going to institute something like this. At the moment though, it doesn't seem that likely that I'll continue to shell out the cash each month since I find that WotLK, and the policies you've put into practice with this expansion(as well as the people who seem to enjoy them) have made the game no longer something I can enjoy.
For WotC/Hasbro: I guess the fix for the Edition Wars is nowhere near as easy to solve. I will say that you angered a lot of people with 4th edition. I know many people who refuse to even call it D&D because it is such a radical departure from the lore built up over the last 30+ years. I also think the game would have gotten much better reviews and reached a wider audience if it wasn't for the fact that you put it under the D&D banner. I think, perhaps, there would have been a lot less gnashing of teeth and a lot less bad blood between old school and new school types if you'd just decided to retire the D&D brand name. I keep hearing that the design team wanted to explore entirely new avenues of thought, but by taking the name D&D there's a certain amount of expected baggage that goes along with it. For many people, what you did is tantamount to the same level of dickishness I expect out of directors like Uwe Boll when they get the rights to make movies about video game or comic book franchises, and then go off to make movies that wouldn't be bad if they hadn't built up the expectations by using the franchise names. I'd also rather like to think of the people in charge of design at WotC as being nothing like Uwe Boll.
People take this sort of stuff seriously, and as old as D&D is, for many players the lore and feel of the game is held in the same regard as traditions. It also seems to me at least, rather foolish to be alienating what would otherwise be a very vocal group of people who actually DO want to support you in your efforts.
I would also like to thank everyone who IS involved with the games, both players and companies, as I realize that both sides have legitimate concerns and arguments. I believe both the grognards and the companies really are important to the future of the games/hobbies we're involved in. I just think that perhaps we could do a little better at trying to come up with solutions that benefit both sides rather than further isolating ourselves from one another.
1 hour ago