Not too long ago I took my warrior out for a spin in 1k needles and after 9 or so characters levelling through there I figure I know the area pretty well. And still something was different than the last 8 characters I put through there... something was very different.
It wasn't the half a trillion new graveyards that would practically spit me out next to my corpse whenever I died. It wasn't the increased run-speed while dead, or the incredible leveling speed or even the fact that I was happily sitting on a mount at level 30... no:
It was the silence... the silence was absolutely deafening.
I had spent a solid 2 hours online and hadn't run into anyone all the time I was out questing. I went to 1k needles and there was nothing (Except loads of ore numnums). I went on to hillsbrad foothills to find a whole lot of no one... out of curiosity I even took a peek at stranglethorne vale and found  players. 3 of them level 80s that were obviously lost, on their way to Kara, grinding bloodsail rep or... well... lost.
I didn't see anyone out there outside of Booty bay... but /who clearly stated they were there.
I decided to take a look at the LFG channel for my level bracket, looked at the blank list for a while and decided to just go back to questing.
I've been a bit of a loner for most my wow existence. I like crowds of people, I enjoy the social atmosphere lots of people bring to the table but when it comes down to sticking my blade in things I always preferred to be by myself (or in exclusive company).
But what if you're not the loner type? What if you just bought wow and expected to see teaming masses of people all over the place? Expect to run dungeons in groups, explore the world and do cool things 'with' other people?
What if you really wanted to see all there is to see in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor in the way it was meant to be seen (not some bored level 80 burning through an instance leaving a path of corpses [and you] in his/her wake)?
Are you well and truly hosed? Can you even expect to see a 'real' player before you step foot in deathknight peninsula? Is it really going to be good for a new player to have his/her first contact be with some poor soul's DK alt?
After all this time I always figured WoW would die a certain death from a collapsing economy (mudflation) or suffer defeat at the hands of unmanageable numbers (large number syndrome) but looking at what the game is now it seems like there is a new danger forming. New player frustration.
Sure, levelling is faster than ever... but would you really want to play an MMORPG for 55 levels (which is still going to take a while to get to) if you're surrounded by the overwhelming feeling that you're either completely alone or so late to the game that you'll never catch up?
I am not sure I would... back in the day when I started Azeroth was already a bit of a wasteland... but there were still people, they were annoying and talked a lot of nonsense but they made places like the barrens feel alive...
Now the barrens are just that: barren.
So whilst I am glad that my lowest level character is level 34 which puts me at least well on my way out of azeroth the question begs to be asked:
what's in it for the new guy?