Something that has frustrated me for the longest time is the moving target for classes in World of Warcraft. Obviously, this has gone on since the start of the expansion. In some cases, the changes are positive as bugs might be addressed in a patch. However, a lot of the changes in spells, talents, etc. seem pretty unnecessary for the most part. While I tend to blame the vast majority of these issues exclusively on Blizzard’s refusal to split the talent/abilities section between PVP and PVE (as well as the arena players causing a raucous), I do think that once they lay the ground work for classes in an expansion, they should pretty much leave them alone outside of fixing major bugs.
But my opinion does not really address the question posed as the title for this posting. My theory behind the constant changes for classes are in two parts. First, I think the class issues mostly are adjusted constantly to deal with arena balance (or imbalance). Unfortunately, the way the game is designed, there isn’t such a thing as true balancing in PVP. To make balancing a realistic option, all classes have to be completely stripped away of their identities and the only things remaining would be sheer selectable talents.
Realistically, removing classes from the game would make the game unappealing I believe for many as playing different classes provide a sense of identity to the game. And that sense of identity adds a lot of flavor to the world (of Warcraft). Essentially, the game would end up looking something like Skyrim/Elder Scrolls where you can choose a default class type that pre-selected your talents/skills, or you could create a customized class. Considering how lazy the developers over at Blizzard are in terms of testing, the sheer combinatorial factor would make it impossible for them to do thorough testing without adding more headaches upon themselves.
Along these lines of the class balance aspect, creating the whole “flavor of the month” class is a nefarious tactic Blizzard uses to make certain classes and specs more appealing. I’m really not a huge fan of this type of tactic as it pretty much robs people of choice in allowing people to figure out on their own how to beat rock using Spock rather than just paper.
But there’s another reason I’ve determined as to why these constant class changes occur in each patch: job security. I personally believe that certain members inside of Blizzard (most notably people like Ghostcrawler Greg Street) use the class balancing act (or the excuse thereof) to insure their jobs remain intact by providing an excuse to constantly muck with numbers as opposed to innovating on the content aspect.
When you look at how class changes occur in each patch, you have to admit that for the most part they are quite useless. Most of it is just buffing this ability or nerfing that ability because group XXX in arena complained. But I think this is just an example of how poorly thought out the development process in Blizzard is handled when it comes to content, which is why encounters have to continually be adjusted.
The thing is that Blizzard needs to stop focusing on adjusting classes and work on fixing bugs either with the classes or the content themselves. I think it’s a horrible waste of resources to constantly fix something that was set out from the beginning of the expansion and then change it progressively over the course of the game. It’s a really poor message to the community in revealing to us just how broken the game is. Worse yet, there are a large number of bugs in the game that are game breakers. Take the warlock Demonic Gateway that can potentially halt a Ji-Kun LFR encounter. It’s a huge griefing possibility that has me becoming extremely wary every time a warlock sets up a Gateway in that encounter. Yet since the inception of LFR, this bug never has been fixed. Or take how combat rogues effectively become useless during Megaera because of how the positioning elements for backstab ends up. I mean I can go on for a lot of these issues which seem poorly thought out in the scheme of things.
For myself, I would prefer seeing bug fixes every week being issued out at a much higher rate for content as opposed to +/-% points on abilities. I would love to see mechanics like LFR, LFG, etc. have significant improvements like decreasing the amount of time to get into a group or determining how to make those elements of the game more friendly/social rather than just class mechanics. It feels like there’s just so much wasted effort trying to balance the game that other more important aspects are being left in the cold. And to me that’s just a massive waste of money.