GW2 was sold as a game where you wouldn't have to grind for gear to stay competitive.
Let's take a look at the 3 major game modes: PvE (open world and dungeon), WvW, and PvP.
In PvE open world, Ascended gear is meaningless, and an argument could be easily made that says so is Exotic gear. You don't need either to complete the content.
In PvE dungeons (non-fractals), it is only the other players that are judging you for not having Ascended gear. It's a cooperative game mode and people got through these dungeons just fine with Rare and Exotic gear in the past, and they'll continue to do so unaffected by the addition Ascended gear.
In Fractals, Agony resistance in Ascended gear is "required" to progress past a certain point. This applies only to this dungeon and so far Agony does not affect the outside world. If a group wants to do Fractals to do Fractals
then they get some "grindy" reward for it. Let's face it, there are people who play games who just want
grind. For whatever reason, I don't care if they really want it or only think they want it. Point is, they crave that shit. They want "hard" content and they want to see their numbers go up.
In WvW, Ascended gear may or may not have a noticeable effect. However, the main point here is that ArenaNet do not consider WvW to be competitive. I know some players do, and they care about WvW a lot, but the reality is that because you can get in there with any level and any gear, and you cannot control other peoples' level and gear, it will always be unbalanced in numbers (let alone the difference in number of players) Even if there were no Ascended gear, WvW would still be just as unbalanced, and that is by design.
In PvP, there's no Ascended gear.
So, Fractals of the Mists is the only game mode where Ascended gear is a required in any way, and it isn't even a "grind to stay competitive,"
it's a grind to be able to progress further. And really the only people that should be running Fractals are the players that want that grindy shit. ArenaNet have apparently made that niche game mode for players who like grind. Players are all different and want different things, after all.
Edited by Reverse Ghost, 10 January 2013 - 10:29 PM.