From a Q&A session:
Q: Will the Raid Finder allow access to lower raids?
A: Probably not for 4.3, but it’s something we’d like to do.
Honestly why bother adding the feature without lower raids? With Transmogrification this was a no-brainer feature that could really help.
They’re trying to add cross-realm too – which is another basic feature that makes sense. If they are afraid that old content would be run too often with the RF tool (huh?), then restrict it to the server only.
Or even better, just restrict it to within your guild, that way it will never get used at all. Grumble.
Lets hope that it is released for old raid content very soon, otherwise the tool will die a very early death. Getting people happy about it by using old raids is the perfect entryway to using it for current raids. Get ’em hooked then let them stretch the usage.
I’ve also see a fair amount of rants about the loss of subscriber numbers, and it being the start of WoW’s decline. This tool might be one of those features that helps retain players for slightly longer. If even 10,000 people play longer for this reason, that is $150k revenue for a feature that would probably cost far less to implement. I hope Blizzard continue to grab that long tail and shake it for all its worth.
The first published trend (two declines in a row) – the game still has approx 11 million players. Think about it. 11m is more than enough players to sustain servers, patches, and the game in general. It is plenty to drive further growth, and will still provide a wealthy pool of players for other games. I’d go as far to say that even if the population dropped to 5 million there is still plenty of scope for a happy player base. <5m might make the owners unhappy, but you can still make a darn good game with a lot less than 1 million players.