A while ago Blizzard came out with the stat that 70% of its accounts don't ever make it past level 10. While I am sure that Blizzard can put in some great analysis of their game, I am also sure that they would love to hear more player feedback on the new level experience.
My leveling experiences varied a lot depending on the class between level 1 and 10. The easiest and funiest class at low level is without any doubt the warlock. You get your pet really fast, and the moment you have it your Imp can just kill the mobs alone if you want it. The only "hard" part is the quest to get your Imp(1). So it is easy, but it is also fun as you use multiple spells : you got your main pewpew spell and immolation at level 1, then you get corruption, curse of agony and life tap before leaving the starting zone. That's a lot of buttons to hit while fighting mobs so you're kept busy, and life tap allow you to keep going without any mana problem. If you're undead, you won't have any downtime.
Some other classes get to level 10 pretty easy, but are boring. That's the case of paladin for example, that only have one spell to hit. In fact, you don't even have Judgement until level 4: until then, you just kill things with you auto attack \o/. It doesn't stop by level 10 by the way, paladins keep being boring until you hit level 40. But leveling a paladin is not hard. Mobs die at a decent rate, you don't run out of mana (how could you? Your only spell cost 6 mana and is on a 10 seconds cooldown), you're wearing mail armor so you can afford taking damage before you're in danger.
But some classes are (or were) really hard to level to 10. I remember the last priest I leveled, it was a bit more than a year ago. I buy her lots of mana potion, heirloom shoulders and some other greens from the AH to make leveling less painful. But still. I couldn't just kill 2 mobs in a raw using smite in the strating zone. If I didn't finish the mobs with my little mace, I was almost oom when they died. And I was human. How did the priests who hadn't the spirit bonus? By now leveling a priest should be easier with the adjustment they made in the mana costs of the spells and the mana regeneration at low level. When I leveled my baby shaman in SAN my mana was back to full as soon as I was out of the five seconds rule.
Some classes are ok, but are just missing something essential. What about rogues with only one weapon? What about hunters without a pet? What about a druid who can't shapeshift? Worse, I recently realised hunters only had a mele attack at level 1! No wonder why there are so many mele hunters out there. I completely understand that new players could get confused and think Raptor Strike is the main hunter attack.
But these considerations are from a confirmed player point of view. That doesn't answer the question : why does so many account don't make it until level 10 ?
Even if some of these account could be trial accounts from wow players, I suppose some of them are completely new players. When I remember my first hour of playing, the time it took to kill something was the least of my worries. Wath bothered me was way more basic. This experience will depend on each player previous experience. As wow is my first game, you can understand that I didn't care at all that my rogue was only wearing one weapon (why bother with 2 weapon by the way? Managing one is hard enough! ). I was just trying to get were I wanted to go, and attack what I wanted to attack. When I did that right, the stuff died, and it was ok for me. But often it was : "Why the hell did my character stop attacking? ", "You are facing the wrong way", "Wait, I'm trying to turn my character but that's not that easy! ".
That's how I felt in the strating area. The difficulty hadn't nothing to do with the game: moving was my biggest problem, my boyfriend explained the game mechanisms to me.
The level 6-10 were a little harder. You begin facing fleeing murlocs. Do you imagine how it is to try and run after a fleeing murloc when it is already hard to just run in the direction you want to run? And you need to fight Princess with her 2 bodygards!
The zone is way bigger, and you absolutely don't know where you're going. At this time, there weren't points on the map showing me where I needed to go. And I barely knew how to use a map. I remember getting lost when looking for a quest, and being surrounded by Defias 5 level above me.
Some of these difficulties have been dealt with. It's now easier not getting lost, if you know how to use the quest mapping feature. The discovering experience is not that great with this feature, but leveling is being made easier and this can really help players going past level 10. Most named monster are also easier to kill. Princess has now only one bodygard, and most elite mobs are not elite anymore (except Hogger) and can be easily soloed.
But there are some other changes, meaning to make the low level game better, that could not reach their goal. For example, all monsters in the strating zone are now neutral. It makes the strating zone easier. But quest in there weren't hard. Now, you don't need to kill stuff to level, you earn less experience, and you could find yourself leaving the strating area at level 4. It's very very low and that'll make your questing in the next area much harder than it should be. Moreover, you haven't learnt how to handle aggressive mobs, and it'll be even harder to handle aggressive and fleeing murlocs.
When Cataclysm goes out, hunters will have a pet at level 1. Leveling a hunter from 1 to 10 will be way more interesting for sure, but handling a pet can be difficult when you're just discovering the game. When I first played a demonist, managing my pet wasn't easy, and it was already the 3rd character I created.
And you, what do you think about the changes on the low level game ? Do they improve your leveling experience? Do you think they will improve beginner players' experience?
(1) I just discovered the quest to get the Imp at level 1 didn't exist anymore, you can just buy the spell now. That's a bit sad, it was great to have a warlock quest that early in the game. And the mobs warlocks had to kill must feel quite alone now...