I always hear the argument that WoW doesn't take any skill to play, that a idiotic child with half a brain could do anything in the game etc. etc. etc.
Let me say, for the record, that WoW is a game that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. The following will be examples and personal experiences I've had in my long history with WoW that prove my point, however I will also try to predict the arguments against my position and counter them. Please, join in the discussion in a civil and intelligent manner using the comments.
*Note* I no longer play because I got burned out in the 4 days a week 4-6 hours a day raid schedule
First off, let's talk the basics. End-game versus standard play. Standard play, and by this I mean the quests and activities you go through as you level your character to maximum. Yes, this is easy. Leveling your toon from 1 to 70 is fairly fast, fun, and easy. It's 95% solo content, and there are very few real challenges other then following directions, exploring, and managing your character and combat situations effectively. If you play smart, never bite off more then you can chew, and level through questing the game is fairly easy. I will not argue that point.
End game is entirely different. I won't go into the difficulty of PvP too much, as the experience is entirely subjective. It all depends on your class and your skill at using that class in combat with other players, and how good the opponent is, etc. It's entirely too subjective to be discussed logically without simply going into this opinion or that.
End game Pve content is not easy, despite what forum trolls want you to believe. If it were, 90%+ of the players would be going through the high end raids like Naxxaramus (pre-BC) and Black Temple. This is simply not the case. Most Wow players have experienced the pre-BC 10 man raids, and Kharazan post-BC. And that is it. It's just as much about skill in organizing and leading a guild/raiding party as it is knowing your character and how to use their abilities effectively in the raid environment.
Many will argue that it's simply "learning the script and doing the same exact thing every time." To some extent, this is true. But every raid requires all the people in your group to know their role, be able to respond to changing situations, and adapt accordingly. All of which, of course following the rules governed by the encounter's script, but this is not as easy of a process as some would like for you to believe. As I stated before, in an environment where one person not doing the right thing can cause your group to fail, coordination, teamwork, and communication are just as important as the player skill required to actually complete the game-system related tasks.
This is where the real challenge of end-game PvE raiding comes from. Leadership. You may be an uber gamer, MMO vet and a highly skilled player, but your individual contributions only matter as much as they effect the overall outcome of the group's efforts. Can one great player overcome the hinderance added by having a bad player in the group? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
So why is it this way? MMORPGs are social games. In order to achieve the greatest success in the Pve end-game, you have to be able to succeed in the social structure the game creates. This is on purpose.
Next. Gear vs. player skill vs. talent spec. I played a Warrior for ages, so I'll start their.
Gear: 25% of how effective your character is. WoW is at it's core an EQ clone, so gear is very important.
Talent Spec: 25% of how effective your character is. If you want to tank end-game content as a Warrior, you are going to need to be Protection spec. Same with any other class, to do end-game PvE content, you'll need to be an effective PvE talent spec. This was done on purpose and is "as designed."
Player skill: 50% of how effective your character is. Knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. When to use what skill, on what target, your positioning (extremely important), your group composition, and so many more.
In order to get the best gear, you need to be skilled. In order to be skilled, you have to know how to build your talents in a way that makes you effective, in order to build your talents you need to know what gear choices to make, what areas to focus on, etc. It's all connected in a circle.
If you simply get what you think is the "best" gear and use any old talent spec, you will not be as effective. If you download the supposed "best" talent spec, but don't have the gear to match the talents, you won't be as effective, and even if you get the best gear and best talents working together, if you don't know how to play the character you will not be effective.
For instance -
Say I want to do PvE as a Warrior doing DPS. Ok, I'll probably put my talent points into the Fury tree, and I'll focus my gear on +Attack power and +chance to hit. Why? Because a Fury Warrior is all about hitting a lot, very quickly, not hitting for very large numbers sparingly. The biggest point of player skill is monitoring your Threat generation so you don't pull Aggro off the Tank while still maintaining high DPS.
Say I want to do PvP as a Warrior. Ok, I'll probably put my talents into the Arms tree. But do I specialize in Axes for improved critical strike chance? Maces for a chance to stun my opponent (usual PvP Warrior pick) or Swords for a chance to double strike? How will I set up my gear? Well for PvP I need Resilience and high stamina, and if I've chosen to use two-handed axes I want to maximize my critical strike chance. Player skill in engaging in PvP combat as a Warrior is a matter of practice and experimentation, you have to learn strategies to use against different classes and in different situations. No two battles are ever the same.
For tanking, how do I want to set my character up? Maximizing my Threat generation is a definite yes, and maximize my survivability is paramount to my success as a tank. But how do I do that? Well if the boss hits very, very hard I should focus on having as much stamina as possible, but also increasing my dodge and parry rates as much as possible to avoid taking damage. One of the biggest factors when tanking is rage generation, so I have to make sure I take enough damage to generate rage so that I can build enough threat to stay above the other 24 people in my raid, but not take so much damage as to where my healers run out of mana keeping my alive before the DPS can pump out enough damage to kill the target....
This is just a sample.
The point is, WoW, at the end-game, be it PvP or PvE is not "total carebear uber easy noob mode anyone with half a brain and a couple of fingers can do it crap" like many forum trolls on MMORPG.com will tell you it is.
My guess? 99% of them found the standard game of leveling and doing quests to be too linear or simply not as much fun as everyone else told them it was, and they quit before ever reaching end game.
Either that, or they were lucky enough to get into a Guild with some REALLY talent players that walked them through every encounter and spoon fed them gear upgrades.
They never had to take a rag-tag Guild full of inexperienced raiders and work with them, over the course of months, into raiding condition so that they could clear content and advance. They never had to be a leader. They never had to resolve social disputes and manage an entire Guild full of people that, despite their redeeming and wonderful qualities, in the end wanted new shiny Gear just as much as the next guy/gal.
So please, stop calling World of Warcraft a total carebear game, and please stop saying that it doesn't require any skill at all to play.
Unless you can post pictures of your toon standing over the corpses of the final bosses of major end-game raids, and can honestly say that you got to that point with very little work at all, or can prove you are on a topped ranked PvP Arena team (with over 75% games played) then you have absolutely zero room to talk.
Just because the game is effortless to get into (accessability), not terribly complicated to figure out, isn't full of tedius and wasteful time sinks, and packed with unneccessary complications doesn't mean that it is easy.
It means it is well made.