Personally I only see the pet battle system and "challenge" modes as fluff implemented the same way archeology was.., it serves no purpose other then giving you something artificially prolonging your online time.
Yes. And that is exactly what blizzard is going for. They're putting two very popular and addictive games (farmville, Pokemon) into WoW. It is entirely to give people another reason to keep their WoW subscriprion up and running. And then there's chalange modes.... IDK, i think they might be shooting for a PVE E-sport with that one. And scenarios, that's a clear shoutout to the casual player who migt not have the time to group up with people or who doesn't realy have any freinds in the wow cummunty. Blizzard is really putting a lot of money into this upcoming expansion, and they are most certainly looking to get a bg return out of it.
I think it is a good idea in theory, but as previously stated, the media would be all over it and it would be quite difficult to phrase in a positive manner. The idea of giving people extra time before bashing their faces against the wall that is progression and letting them try out new features (and there's gonna be lots of them) is good, but no 'hardcore' guild is going to be willing to do that. As a casual player, with little raiding experience other than LFR and a few guild raid nights, feel free to correct me if you think I am drastically wrong, any opinion with a valid reason is welcome.
2 weeks prior to raids is kind of a good thing IMHO. It'll give people enough time to hit 90, gear up, then work on getting an alt up to 90 or working on professions, etc. My personal experience is that it's nice to have two max level toons that are geared for current content just in case an extra tank/dps/heals show up, so you can flip to a toon you enjoy playing. With my current guild, I have my 85 prot/arms warrior, then I also have an 85 holy/prot paladin so if we need 3 healers for a fight, I can switch etc. It's a matter of opinion, but I wouldn't mind it either way. I think a week before raids would be nice though, so you're not rushing to level cap to raid. Enjoying the new content>hitting 90 and getting face rolled 24/7 for the first few weeks of progression.
(Both toons are in DS10, my pally is starting HMDS10 for the next few weeks until I ship out for training.)