My feeling is that they originally implemented level scaling for a number of reasons, none of which had anything to do with what new players want or need to keep them in the game, despite Ion’s claim that new players weren’t starting the game because of a lack of level scaling, and that new players wanted really hard leveling. So where are those hundreds of thousands of such new players? There weren’t any. Wow is lucky to attract and keep any new players at this point, given that the devs refuse to recognize how overwhelming the game is to a player who is starting from zero. It takes way more than a few hours of leveling in a zone with a tutorial aspect to get someone to the point where they’re fully functional at max, during which times they will have many, many questions go unanswered because they didn’t know how to ask them right or didn’t know which website to go to look them up on.
They told us we got level scaling because:
- New players were demanding level scaling
- New players were demanding really hard leveling
- Leveling had nerfed itself into the ground at the beginning of Legion and the only possible solution was level scaling.
- Players were unable to complete zones because blizzard had set the xp gain to zero out after reaching the zone end level, and the only possible solution was level scaling.
Of course player could complete zones if they really wanted to, and devs could have just readjusted xp gains to taper off less dramatically. But they really wanted to implement level scaling because:
It was a step in the plan to put big changes into the game and convert it longterm into a low maintenance game that could churn out an unrelated game by template and have the previous one converted on the fly into a leveling zone.
They wanted to remove player options, because devs don’t believe in player options. Player options allow players to choose to play the game wrong, and choosing the wrong option is inherently degenerate gameplay.
- With allied races upcoming at that point, and players about to level up multiple allied race characters to unlock the heritage armor, they wanted to vastly bloat the amount of time it took to level. This is something that a blue actually admitted in the forum.
And so we got
All feeling of progression removed from leveling, which made it thoroughly boring.
Mob health greatly increased, so leveling went from 30 hours or less to 120 hours of slowly whittling down hundreds of thousands of trash packs while reading the forums, watching netflix, or surfing the web to stay awake.
Dungeons made much harder by, again, turning mobs into damage sponges. BC dungeons went from 10-15 minutes to an hour. Since then the mob health has been decreased again, while quietly adding mechanics to dungeons over a period of time. They’ve even added cata heroic dungeon mechanics to a few vanilla dungeons.
Removal of popular leveling options like powerleveling and soloing dungeons at level.
Hard nerfing of heirloom stats and normalization to change them all to the same stats by converting versatility items to crit, haste, or crit-haste. Long-term I’m sure their intention was to eliminate the option of using heirlooms entirely, as we have been told a fair amount of times that somehow being forced to rely on the same boring, normalized leveling gear while leveling would add excitement to leveling. Like, “Oh, boy, I’m level 40 and I finally replaced that piece of starter gear, I feel like I won the lottery!” Yeah, no.
But we were also told many times that leveling would feel more rewarding if we had to work harder and longer to do it. This “classic leveling was better because it was hard and long” talking point was soundly rejected by the playerbase, and so we ended up with leveling being nothing but a rush to end game.
TL;DR: Leveling changes since Legion have been part of the long-term plan to turn wow into a game that was cheap to develop new template-driven content for and low maintenance.