Even as far back as the days of Prophecies, this kind of attitude existed. As some pointed out in the open letter threads, GW was a game originally designed as a PvP game that had a PvE experience meant to lead you to that PvP. Instead, it was found that many people bought the game for the PvE experience and strayed from doing any PvP. Instead of using later campaigns or expansions as a way to reconfigure or reinforce their game to fit this original vision, they caved into the larger PvE crowd that wanted to buy their game for that experience and spent more time and effort towards them over their PvP crowd for which they had first made their game. The purpose was to push more boxes, get more people to buy the game so that more money can be made to make new campaigns and new expansions with bigger and more intense PvE experiences. I say this from the perspective of someone who was in that PvE crowd, having never spent any serious time in GvG or HA, but it always stuck with me how players, major PvPers in particular, would say that this game that they got into for the PvP was being left neglected for a crowd that the developers didn't intend to serve so well.
The most popular sighting of this disconnect comes from the ever-so-popularly-cited manifesto for GW2. When some person or group releases a manifesto, it gives the impression that it means something. It's making a statement about what kind of beliefs are held by those people or that group, and the expectation is that those beliefs will be followed through on. Whenever ANet does something that strays from that message, people point back to it and say, again and again, "What did this mean to you? What was this supposed to mean to us? Why do your actions not seem to follow your words?"
It's because ANet has zero design philosophy. There are no central tenets to anything that they develop that I can recall them sticking to, except for, "our games will have no subscription fee," and, "we have an iterative development process." The first one has a little bit to do with their games, but much more is about their business model, and they will in fact change anything in their game to serve this model (as in, get more people to buy their boxes). The second is just a fancy way of saying, "we work on things that we find are broken or don't work," and, "we are always working on developing something," which are just givens in any industry such as this where you can modify the product/service you provide the customer (i.e. every business ever). Everything else that they put out is at risk for being "iterated" upon to serve the purpose of selling more boxes. Nothing ANet says about how they're making their game or what direction they're going in can ever be trusted (long-term) because none of it is ever set in stone, for that very reason. This kind of flaky approach might be good for making them a great business, but it doesn't allow them to put together a good game.
Here is a post by Regina from six years ago, in response to the second open letter:
Regina Buenaobra said:
I'm going to address the points you made under your section, "So what can you do?" because they are areas that we're currently taking action on and/or seriously exploring for the immediate future.
One of the underlying points that I'm getting from your letter is that you want more transparency. One of your points is the need for players to understand why the developers make the decisions they do. We recently started making major Dev Updates, which explain the rationale behind changes made to the game, more visible to the community at-large by including them in News Posts on the official website. Not everyone reads fan forums or wikis, and this was the reasoning behind making Dev Updates more visible by linking to them more frequently in News Posts.
We are exploring other ways in which we can communicate developer design decisions to the community. I have been discussing this issue with players, and several have suggested creating a Developer Blog, in which various staff at ArenaNet could post and give their insights into the design process, amongst other types of content. I have been soliciting and collecting feedback on what sort of content players would like to see in a Dev Blog.
Another point you made is regarding the collection and organization of community feedback. The design team does regularly consult with and solicits feedback from experienced and knowledgable players. I and other members of the team are accessible through our wiki pages and through PMs on the forums as well. I and the other members of the community team have been communicating with players through email, forum PMs, in-game, on the wiki, and in the forums at large. However these discussions are dispersed through many different mediums and there is no single, unified place where feedback is visibly given and read.
Forums can be a great place for discussion, they are not necessarily the best place for organizing feedback in such a way that people (players and devs) can easily find it, search for suggestions that are the most popular, or figure out which pieces of feedback rank highly in terms of importance to the community.
The official wiki, which is another place where we view, discuss, and solicit feedback, is a great place for documentation, but it's not conducive to discussion, search, or ranking in terms of importance/popularity.
We're currently exploring ways in which we can use technology to collect feedback in a more intelligent and visible way. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
I can assure you that our team has a strong goal for what we want to accomplish with Guild Wars 2, and hopefully we can get this across in future communications.
It's frightening how much this mirrors recent events with the push for the NPE in GW2. The concern for the gameplay being dumbed down, the efforts by the devs to become just a little more transparent on what they're thinking, the downplaying of criticism from any one source because, "we look at feedback from many places, so your specific concerns here can't be that important," avoiding direct communication with or giving answers to troubled players by redirecting them via PR speak to pretty blog posts and videos, it's all here. In particular though, I and my past self both liked that second to last line.
"I can assure you that our team has a strong goal for what we want to accomplish with Guild Wars 2, and hopefully we can get this across in future communications."
If your efforts to communicate this were to make an official forum thread where devs can circlejerk with random passersby, congratulations.