With no horse in the race, I find the WoW news about maintaining a lack of flight quite fascinating. As always, stories.
I had a subscription for the first month or so of WoD. It took a “normal” amount of time to get to cap, at least compared to MoP. Which was near double or triple of the Cataclysm trainwreck. Once I did hit the cap, I decided to bring a couple more alts to 100. Did I mention that I was able to get one to 99 without ever moving past the garrison quests? Mounts were superfluous. And zone design didn’t exactly necessitate any mounts either since the quests were usually a few feet away from a quest giver. Long gone are the days of getting a quest on one side of the map and going to the other (which ironically, Cata had in spades). I’m struggling to think of a single occurrence of character death while leveling, outside of the elite/rare kills I attempted solo. There was never any real threat. To get around the world was about hoping on a flight path and alt-tabbing until I got there, which in some cases was extremely long.
Once I did hit cap, I was mostly pet/mount hunting. All of that was in the old content, because WoD held little appeal outside of the 7 day gronn mount spawn. My Boots quest in EQ has killed any desire to spawn camp. Anyways, I have 6 alts who were at level 85/90 who could easily farm old content. Zul was the only daily for the 2 mounts, which I never got after months of farming. I got the Bird mount in Terrok pretty quick, which left mostly raid farming for the rest. The cycle usually went MC, BWL, Kara, SSC, TK and then AQ. Every single one of them was reached through flight, aiming the mouse and alt-tabbing until I got there. I tried flight paths, which all landed next to the raid (MC, BWL and SSC excepted) and all were slower than aiming my dragon and going afk. Not just a little slower either, a lot. I don’t think I would have even bothered with half of it if it wasn’t for the fast travel. So yeah, it was more about convenience than anything else.
Having flight while leveling made things extremely trivial. Not so much in that it bypassed content (it did) but that it highlighted bad design decisions. Dropping in, picking up 2 packages and then leaving isn’t super smart. Neither is farming a drop for 20 minutes. I think Wildstar’s approach here was better, where various actions provided progress on a bar. Kill a lot of small things, a few big things, collect some items, destroy others. Zones had some rough spots to run through, where you needed to pay attention. You still had some boring taxi travel BUT each zone had 1 large teleporter or some kind to help with fast travel between the actual zones.
All that said, I think it speaks volumes that a company that hit the 10m mark, lost ~3m subs, put in a legit gold selling program (and will sell top-end gear for said gold) doesn’t think flight is worth the hassle. WoW is the most accessible it has ever been, the absolute least social version ever and flight for some people is a hill to die on. Such an interesting read to see people’s reactions (Wilhelm has a good collection of them).