The Escapist: The arguments that Blizzard favors the Horde would be too much.
Greg Street: Oh yeah, if we gave, for example, if we had done Pandaren for Alliance and say Ogres or Naga or something for Horde, a lot of Horde players would never have forgiven us because "Hey, Chen Stormstout was Horde!" We worried about it a little with Goblins in Cataclysm but we knew with Pandaren absolutely what it would be mean to limit it just half our player base.
The Escapist: What was the inspiration for the mini-pet combat system?
Greg Street: Players had been asking us for years, saying I like the collection game but I want to do something more with my pets. Mounts get you around in the world and pets were really just there for cosmetic purposes. That coupled with the fact we wanted a new system that we could add to the game, but we didn't want one that infiltrated every other aspect of the game. What I mean by that is, when we added the professions Inscription, Archaeology and Jewelcrafting they have their hooks everywhere in the game to where this is something players are going to have to worry a lot about even if you have no interest in being a jewel crafter you're expected to understand what gems mean for your character and to upgrade them and things like that. So if you're looking more for a system that really felt optional, if you had no interest in dealing with the battle pets you could ignore it completely, you don't have to worry about what this means for progression for your character or how if you're missing out on player power.
The Escapist: That was where that came from? Or did you guys already have this kind of idea and then this fits perfectly.
Greg Street: No, it was a combination. We were sitting around feeling like we could use one or two more systems in the expansion but we don't want anything that adds on a lot of complexity to the way characters grow. We didn't want a new type of thing that felt like an enchant or a new type of thing that felt like a skill system players would have to learn and this really felt like it would be optional, it would be something people would intuitively get yet they didn't have to worry about it if they didn't want to.