idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
It's actually really weird it hasn't. I mean, the balance between hardcore, casual, and average raiders was being highly felt in Wrath. Even if they've had to stretch the difficulty further in the other direction, flexible mode still would have been a really nice feature to have.
The way they described Flex Mode was that it was pretty much a natural extension of the scaling systems that only went into place with MoP. Stuff like Challenge Modes, where your gear is scaled down to a certain ilevel in order to keep things fair, and the item upgrading in exchange for valor points system were really almost prerequisites for Flex Mode. There was a large foundation laid in MoP for other reasons, and Flex Mode evolved naturally out of existing work that had already been done.
You see, Flex Raids scale the boss's health and mechanics based on the number of people in your raid. The goal is to have a mode available that can be completed by social groups that may not always have a full roster of 25 people, or might want to bring in a friend of one of the raiders, or whatever. We really only saw this health scaling mechanic for the first time in 5.2 with the Isle of Thunder. There are a lot of elites and a lot of reasons to hunt for them, so rather than have it be a cluster@#%^ AoE spamfest for the first tag, anyone on the same faction as the person who tags it gets credit and loot, and the elite's health just scales to account for the new people present.
If back in Wrath the devs decided that they wanted to implement Flex mode, then one of the tiers or maybe the expansion pack itself would have been delayed massively. They had to rush to get Wrath out, and reused Naxx to save time (still wish we got that Utgarde Keep raid). Ulduar was already in progress upon release, and still took them a while to get out. ToC was @#%^ing horrible filler, but the alternative was Ulduar for another six months while waiting for ICC. And then we ended up doing ICC for about a year.
My point is that they are implementing Flex Mode now because the systems required for scaling content were already there. Blizzard talks all the time about development being pretty much an allocation of resources. "We can have a class quest, or we can have a new zone" and the like. The WoW team is the largest right now that they have ever been, and before they probably wouldn't have had the resources to develop the Flex Mode tech in any reasonable amount of time.
As it stands, there's a massive amount of content coming in the next patch (5.4) on the 10th of September. There's a new raid with Garrosh as the end boss, Flex Raid difficulty, "Connected Realms" (server mergings), new legendaries, and the Timeless Isle, which is pretty much a new zone with a focus on exploration. Edited, Aug 25th 2013 6:05pm by IDrownFish