Here's some of their take:
In the absence of gaining levels, there are still ways to reward players who want to continue questing or playing through quest-like experiences. Here are some things (there may be more) that might encourage players like this to stick around:
Participation in an epic story
A sense of progress
Discovery of something new or unexpected each day
Earning character customization (including cool mounts!)
Earning fun toys
Making your character more powerful
That's a good start. Story and gear are certainly my two. I want something memorable. That's been rare. I also want to be able to run instances without detracting from the party. The Catch-22 of having to run an instance to get instance-ready gear is a real pita. And when you don't get to instance that much, you want to overgear slightly to make up for your gameplay. I can PvE with the best of 'em. Not so much run Shadowfang.
We've grappled with this problem before, and we'll continue to tinker with solutions. The Isle of Quel'Danas provided people with a great sense of progression, at least on a realm-wide level, and it sure felt epic. The Argent Tournament definitely gave players a sense of personal progress, as well as lots of fun toys.
Ewww. The Argent Tournament stunk. STUNK. Not fun. The Isle was at least an easy, visually impressive grind, and I got to put my items to good use waxing demons, so there was a little strat going from quest to quest, but it was still more grindy than epic storyline. They're overselling themselves here.
The Guardians of Hyjal are getting smart in patch 4.2. They're not just assaulting the Firelands with hardcore raiding guilds… they're attacking that place with everything they've got. That includes you, solo players! We've created a whole zone dedicated to daily questing. There are some 60 new quests in total -- that's about half a zone's worth of quest content. While the raiders are concentrating on taking down the likes of Ragnaros, you'll be securing the rest of his fiery domain.
There's also a story here, a chronicle of a vicious, knock-down, drag-out fight that begins in Hyjal and progresses -- over the course of weeks -- across the mountaintop and then into the Firelands themselves...
The progression is personal: you won’t see it happen until you make it happen.
Well, let's hope. I did enjoy the story in HyJal the most, though Therazane was the most visually impressive and the Wildhammer Clan the most memorable. The developers essentially beg you to beta test Firelands in the Watercooler piece, asking you to tell them where the storyline ain't hot. W[hy]tf do I want to see the storyline to tell you how to make the storyline better? The whole point of being a causal quester is that I like to run through the stuff once. If I just loved questing and didn't mind seeing content over again, I'd be an alt-a-holic.
And though Matlocker, prot-boy extraordinaire is now 21, I realized this week that it's been six years since I last quested in Duskwood. SIX YEARS. That's how long I like between doing and repeating my quests. I hope they go PTR to roll-out for Firelands in less than 6 years. And even then I want a cataclysm in between and a good reason -- Recruit-a-Friend and a friend -- before I'll run it.
Much of the motivation here is nostalgia. Just look at my complaints about what they did to Stitches and Acheus. I'm upset about a sword I never used, for heaven's sake. I'm not replaying just for fun. I'm not going to run the PTR and then run Firelands again when it's released. I've no interest in "What If" Jalindrine. I want good story and gear that rewards my serious questing and allows me to enjoy the periodic instance the first time.
/thus ends the lesson ;^)