This could very well be a hot button topic depending on who you ask you will get a different answer. If you ask a heroic raider they will tell you that blizzard is catering to the casuals and if you ask a casual player they will tell you that blizzard is catering to the 1%. Both will say they are catering the the bad players and the bad player will tell you there is nothing for them in game because blizzard forgets about them.
In the end I think that blizzard is really catering to none of them, and all of them, and that is the reason there are so many issues with the game right now and they have been bleeding subscriptions for a long time. Because they are trying to cater their content toward multiple specific audiences instead of just building quality content and trying to give people the means to access that content. Which is exactly the design they had used during the biggest times of growth, make content, help people get to it by giving them the means to do so, and let them do it on their own.
If you look at the period of growth from vanilla to wrath where it leveled off and then the period of decrease in cata and mists you will see two very different games. It is still warcraft, the same one we always played, but the game during the period of growth was about making the content and correcting what they believed were little errors in the over all design so they could make the game better over all, not for anyone in specific. When compared to the period of decline were you see them focusing on adding things for people only instead of improving what works already to make it better.
There is an old saying that goes something like "You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time." and that is where I believe blizzard has gone wrong. They are trying to please all of the people all of the time. That is something that can not and will not ever be done.
It leaves people to blame everything on the game as "things are bad because they are catering to the 1% / casuals / bads". The thing is, they are right. They are all right. Blizzard is catering to all those groups. Perhaps it might not be the definition of catering you might be using, but they are.
You might think that catering to the 1% means they are making everything for the one percent. Or catering to the casuals means they are making everything for the random group making community. You get the idea. But catering means putting something on the table for those people. So everyone is right, they are catering to all these groups. They are not catering to "only" one of these groups however.
That is where the design error in the game started to take place. When they decided to make things for a specific gorup instead of just trying to make it quality, quick, and enjoyable, which you could see was the basic concept of vanilla thru wrath. When the game was growing they were making their game their way. Since then they are making the game trying to appeal to certain types, and we have seen the decline since then.
Why is that, why would making more content specifically for more people a bad thing?
Because they tried to please all of the people all of the time instead of all the people some of the time like the saying says. You know what happens when you try to please all of the people all of the time, you upset them all instead.
So if Blizzard is catering to everyone, and not catering to any one group specifically, why do we all always blame them for doing so?
Because we are human, most of us at least, and it is human nature to see what someone else has been given and think because I do not have it they must like them better.
When I mentioned this catering to everyone idea to a friend of mine who is a long time player he said he wasn't sure he understood where I was going with it and wasn't sure he agreed with me. Then the next day he said, I think I understand what you mean now after thinking about it.
This is how he saw it, paraphrasing of course.
When blizzard created the game they had a story to tell. They built their game to fit the story as a vehicle to tell it and as the moved the story along to further chapters with illidan and arthas they just updated their game to the times but still focused on it being about the story. When they stopped having a story to tell, in cataclysm, and needed to find another way to keep people playing they started to mess with the content that was always great thinking that they could make the game better and instead of making it better they just alienated parts of their audience with some changes making it appear as if they were catering to people other than themselves.
I said to him, you nailed it. That is exactly what I am getting at. When blizzard was concerned about making a great game and telling a great story people moved along with it, people changed with it, people grew with it. If they just kept designing their game their way they would probably be fine but they started to listen to people and their rose tinted "it was better when" glasses.
Did the original cataclysm dungeons cater to a different crowd than what their player base had become? Yes. Everyone will admit that. People who loved it, people who hated it. People who were indifferent. They will all agree that those dungeons were made for a specific type of player. That was the downfall of blizzard, when they went backwards instead of forward in an effort to design something for one specific sub set of players. It is where the catering idea comes from. Instead of moving forward as they always had, they took a step backwards.
They changed something that was a change in their moving forward development. No matter who they changed it for does not matter, it did not fit the flow of the game any longer. That was no longer the direction the game was heading, they made a hard stop and u-turn and people started to get off because the ride was no longer for them.
Since then they have consistently tried to make content for specific groups, not only one group, all of them, and by doing so each step in the way they lost people because it was a change.
Blizzard needs to get back to basics and stop trying to design the game for different groups specifically and back to designing the game to tell a great story in the way that they always had, their way. Adjusting the game to the times because the times warrant the changes, not because the players, or specific groups, want it.
Because as soon as you start listening to us players someone is bound to say you are catering to one type of player over another and that is what loses players.
Just a theory of course, but I am just like everyone else. I believe that blizzard is catering to a certain type of player and that player is not me and I am not alone because everyone no matter how they play the game things the same thing. There are things that seemed catered for me as well, but as is human nature, it is easier to remember what you feel slightest by than what you have been given. That is why they are losing subs, because everyone feels they are being slighted and forgets all the great things they have been given.
Who is blizzard catering to?
They are catering to you. No matter what type of player you are, raider, PvPer, casual, bad, etc, you are being catered to and that is why the game is losing players. It no longer has a focus, like it did when the game was still more about the story telling and blizzard was still making the game they wanted to make instead of the game they thought people wanted them to make.