Flying has been possible in the game since 2007 expansion The Burning Crusade, but it was controversially omitted from last year’s Warlords.
"Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways," lead designer Ion Hazzikostas told Polygon while chatting about the game's newest zone, Tanaan Jungle.
"While there was certainly convenience in being able to completely explore the world in three dimensions, that also came at the expense of gameplay like targeted exploration, like trying to figure out what's in that cave on top of a hill and how do I get up there.
"It made the world feel in many ways much smaller.”
At the launch of Warlords, Hazzikostas was reasonably sure flying would eventually make a return, but now he says it will not.
"The world feels larger, feels more dangerous," he said.
"There's more room for exploration, for secrets, for discovery and overall immersion in the world. At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We're not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that's kind of where we're at going forward."
Instead, Blizzard will continue to work on its network of taxi flight paths.
"The goal is to maximize convenience in getting from point a to point but retaining as much of the gameplay and depth as possible once you do get to that point," he said.