Change can be a good thing. When there is a system not working, having it redone is not a bad thing. You need to make what isn't working work and the only way to do that is by change. The key to successful change however is that you leave enough that is familiar behind to make adapting to the change an easier transition and that the change is not a change for the sake of shaking thing up only, it has to be something that is needed.
Blizzard, in recent years, have become the poster boys for "change for the sake of change". Each expansion they change things for no other reason than to shake things up. Some of these changes are good. Some are bad. Some we can argue about for days because they are both good and bad at the same time. But they have made sure that every expansion comes with enough changes to make people, possibly, feel a little overwhelmed by it. Or perhaps even a little put off by it, such as I am with the complete dismantling of hunters and everything they have always been with the next expansion.
Ghostcrawler has not been with blizzard for a long time now but still to this day he answers many questions about warcraft. Some years back someone asked him what was the number one reason he saw on the exit interviews. The exit interview is that thing they ask people to fill out when they are canceling their subscription in an attempt to find out why. Good companies use these exit interviews to try to make some changes so that the people that are leaving because of those reasons won't leave. He said the number one reason why people quit was change.
So basically what blizzard needs to make is a change to stop making changes. Sounds odd, but it is a fact. People leave because of changes, it is the number one reason people leave. So perhaps stop changing so many things and keep to adding to the game instead of changing what is already there so much that it alienates the players and makes them feel they have fallen behind and can't catch up because "so much has changed".
Basically what Ghostcrawler pointed out is what everyone and their mother already knows, you did not need an exit interview to know it, but it is quite telling that change was the number one reason people left even if we knew already that people do not like change, more often than not. They do not like their favorite actor leaving a television series, they do not like their favorite ballplayer signing a contract with another team, and they do not like the class they have been playing to change so drastically they feel like they are stating all over again.
People can adjust to change, they always have, but they do not like it. Minor changes and adjustments are fine. But when you have been playing a class for 5 or 8 or 10 years and then suddenly it feels as if you know nothing about it and are starting brand new there is something wrong, the change went to far. This is the type of change that scares people off. When you have invested 10 years in something there is an expectation that you know what you are talking about. Changing an ability from instant to cast time, even if people rebelled over it, is acceptable change. Removing a key ability that has been with your class for 10 years and adds to the flavor of the class is not acceptable change.
Over the years I have seen many players come and go. Many that were main raiders for years that had quit return. These are good players, smart people, could adapt to nearly everything. But even with me and others in the guild willing to help them catch up, willing to answer all their questions, willing to make sure they did not feel lost because of all the changes, they still ended up quitting again because the game changed too much and they did not feel like playing catch up.
Change, at least sweeping large changes, are bad for the game, bad for sports teams, bad for television shows, bad for your family life, bad for your bowling team, basically bad for everything. Change is not always a good thing, more so when it is change that changes everything.
So my question is this...
If change is the #1 reason people quit the game, why is blizzard so intent on pushing more change than we have ever seen before down our throats?
So do they actually want people to quit or is this some sort of social experiment to see how much crap you can get people to put up with before they do quit?