I should probably be the last person in the world of warcraft talking about PVP since I am far from experienced. Still the topic has always had my intrest since I entered my first BG and this resulted in me eagerly reading most of anything I can find on PVP even going so far as to occasionally troll the ArenaJunkies forums / sites.
Having not looked into PVP since february (coincidentally just about the time I got my new job) I decided to do my rounds and figure out what the current state of arena / PVP is.
Let me start by saying: There's massive changes incoming for the next season. Not only will the rating system be completely re-vamped to start rating from 0 for everyone but all the rewards from PVP have also been re-balanced in the cost department.
From what it looks like arena rating requirements will be significantly lower for most pieces and a lot of pieces will be relegated to the realm of honor purchase. To what extend the new rating values will be achievable with the new system remains to be seen, but only a few items are still left that seem completely off the rating charts.
The arena system has always been in a constant state of flux as blizzard tries to fight the various groups of people that abuse the system or just addressing overall balance issues. If nothing else dealing with their obscure matching system that more often than not resulted in your first 100 matches at a rating of 1500 being against better geared people that'd stomp you into the ground in no time.
Cloth wearers have had it especially hard this season as the very crit-happy wotlk expansion clearly displayed in the average survival times of cloth wearing classes being around the 5 - 15 second mark. The few arena experiences I had as a cloth wearer were dysmal at best and at times I wished I would've brought my prot pally instead just so I could actually last longer than 15secs.
The incoming flurry of arena changes for season 6 were to be expected but most likely fueled by one simple fact:
Overall arena representation / participation is down by a whopping 65% across the board.
65% ... that's almost 3 quarters of the arena population throwing the proverbial towel into the ring.
You know that feeling you had that 2 out of 3 or your former PVP partners stopped playing arena alltogether? Well, turns out that you were spot on on that one.
Sure, people levelling would account for lower arena representation but after 5 odd months of WotLK most people have been level 80 and working on gear / rep / other for a while now.
Arena play motivation is at an all time low. With no incentives for casuals to play the arena and the outlook of spending a good amount of time getting your skull crushed in just for some measly arena rating which in the current setup rarely is enough to get some decent gear caused most of the casuals to literally give up on arena alltogether.
Starting the arena rating from 0 seems the natural way to go and in the long term will hopefully allow people to fight people on their level rather than overgeared people with artificially low ratings; But then the arena matching system might throw a spanner in the works on that one.
In the end, whatever change they decide on the goal should be not to make PVP a horribly frustrating experience for the casual players, not because PVP should be easy for casuals but simply to maintain at least the impression that arenas are more than just a strap-on E-sport.
We are willing to accept the fact that we can't reach high-end pvp gear for some occasional pvp-ing but I think most casuals would agree on this: we would like to compete vs other people on our level, and we would like to be able to get something out of it even if it takes a while.