A reader wrote me with an interesting comment on how to solve the problem of casual versus hardcore gamers. Right now the casual gamers complain if Blizzard spends too much developer time in making a top end raid dungeon like Sunwell Plateau, because they will never see it. And the reason why they will never see it is that success in raids is a pretty binary affair: either you kill the boss who drops the loot, or you don't. Now compare that to a game of golf: Both the best and the worst player can play on the same course. They don't compete directly against each other, they compete against the environment, but there isn't a minimum skill level to advance. The good golfer might make a birdie, one stroke under par, and the really, really bad golfer might need 10 strokes over par. But eventually his ball will be in the hole and he'll advance to the next hole. Even if the course is Augusta, or some other very hard place.
I wonder if that system could somehow be applied to MMORPG raiding. For example the monsters could become a bit easier every time the raid wipes, until at some point it is of the good difficulty level for the raid group attempting it. Of course the reward system would have to be changed completely, into some point system like PvP. The less wipes you need to kill a boss, the more points you get, and then there is a vendor somewhere who sells you epics for those points.
In a lesser way something similar already exists in Zul'Aman, with the timers. If you kill the bosses faster than the timer, you get more rewards. At least that increases the number of possible scores from 2 to 3: fail totally, kill boss slowly, kill boss in time. But that still isn't perfect, because there are still quite a lot of raid groups who never see the end of ZA. On a golf course everyone eventually reaches the 18th hole. Why shouldn't that be possible in a MMORPG.