Hmm sounds like they know exactly what they want to do ?
That in no way contradicts Baron's statement. In fact, it validates his analysis of a potential reason for some of the perceived issues in game. Vertical progression effectively stops after the game stops teaching you the game system (at level 30). And vertical progression si GREAT for this purpose. But after that, the game is pretty much entirely horizontal.
The fact that Anet acknowledges this is confusing as they do not seem to be making decisions that coincide with their own analysis of the game or with their stated goals. Their stated goal is to start with vertical progression and switch to horizontal progression, but they have added vertical progression back in at the end despite saying that they didn't want the downsides inherent with that decision. The stated reasoning for Ascended makes no sense since the initial vertical progression ends at 30 and you don't start building Ascended till 80, long after you have been fully submerged in horizontal systems.
I personally don't think you can fix the downsides of horizontal progression by suddenly adding vertical progression. One of them will invalidate the other in most circumstances and suddenly you add in the downsides of a vertical progression system. Fixing the issues of a system shouldn't be done with a band-aid solution. I think this is more of Anet not knowing how to do this (I don't know either so don't go after me for saying that) and they are doing what they already know since they view it as safe.