While I quit WOW awhile ago I still find it necessary to come out swinging to defend it from its many detractors now and again. I just saw a video bashing WOW for ruining MMOs entirely and while the video was amusing and made some good points I think there was far too much silly misinformation there. There are lots of things people criticize about WOW legitimately but here are some of the more common but incorrect ones:
Hotbar Based Combat
Hotbar based combat has two primarily components. First we have the mechanic that hitting a button does something. You hit R and your character casts Divine Shield. You hit 2 and your character casts Judgement. This is NOT a WOW mechanic, it is a 'using a computer' mechanic. The second component of hotbar based combat is having these linkages between keystrokes and game actions represented on the screen for player reference. Is anyone really upset that there is a small corner of the screen devoted to letting me know which buttons do which things, or are they upset because hitting buttons does things? Either answer is ridiculous.
Quests and Quest Hubs
Saying that WOW quests suck and aren't interesting is fair. Most of them are 'Kill 10 Rats' or some variation on that theme. However, we aren't comparing WOW quests to some undefined game nirvana but rather to other realistic options. WOW tried in depth quests with tons of story, cinematics, phasing, etc. to make quests less about killing rats and more about saving the world in Cataclysm and guess what... they sucked worse. How about removing quests entirely? Then you get endless hours grinding the same mobs over and over, which was a constant complaint about the games before WOW, and also about WOW at launch. People want quests, they don't want quests that are too cinematic / interesting / hard, and they want to be able to easily find those quests. Oh look, we are back to 'Kill 10 Rats'.
Player Freedom aka The Sandbox
People talk about wanting extremely freedom to build their own world - the sandbox experience. The trouble is what they actually want is freedom for themselves and no freedom for other people. Note what happens in Eve, the flagship of sandbox games: People nearly all hide in perfectly safe places doing missions and mining that barely ever interact with other players and build nothing of consequence except a bankroll. When they aren't being boring and they go out into the dangerous part of the world they get scammed, PKed, and their stuff gets stolen or destroyed for lols.
Do you know what happens in a sandbox where there aren't any adults protecting the kids from each other? Bullies run around smashing everybody's castles to bits just for fun. Imagine if WOW let people build things. The first thing they would build is giant walls to block off the newb areas so new players couldn't escape. Then they would wall off class trainers, blockade cities, and do all manner of other disruptive things. That is, of course, unless player built things could be destroyed in which case everything that was built would be torn down by others in a fit of spite. Sandbox type gameplay combined with Massively Multiplayer results in endless griefing and (surprise!) no subscribers.
An Ill Defined Paradise
My challenge to all those who claim WOW ruined everything is this: Come up with better alternatives. Precise alternatives. Not "I would do things better." because that is just mental masturbation with a hubris sauce. You don't like quests? Cool, tell me how exactly you would run things. It is nearly certain that your solution would be either completely impractical or straight up worse. (Worse for the majority, of course, since you can find a couple of people who will sign on to any damn fool thing.) Is WOW perfect? HELL no. However, the claim that WOW ruined everything is spurious at best. Games copied WOW because of its financial success and failed because they did it worse. The reason so many games that are kinda like WOW get made and so many other games don't get made is because investors want to get paid and WOW clones, sad as it seems, are more likely to make money than MMOs that try something completely different.