Many online games have spectator modes to allow you to watch the action without actually participating. World of Warcraft players have been clamoring for a similar feature, and this weekend Blizzard decided to respond.
"Unfortunately as far as I’m aware we don’t have any current plans to implement such a feature any time soon, we know that some players have been asking for spectator mode to be added to arenas for quite a while now," said a dev post on the Battle.net forums. He added that this feature would require a lot of development time so the team would need to be certain that enough players want it before they work to implement it.
There are potential spectator mode applications for both PvE and PvP. I'm sure plenty of people would love to watch raids, arenas, or ranked battlegrounds in real-time. It would be a good way to newbies to learn the ropes. Alternately, people sitting on standby for a raid wouldn't miss out on the experience.
Still, spectator modes require certain controls. As one player points out on the forum thread, spectators leave open the possibility of unfair advantages. You would have a leg up in a battleground if you had a friend on Skype watching enemy movements. Likewise, imagine having a raid leader who's able to simply watch the fights and give instructions without having to worry about playing his own character. Another player suggested that the spectator mode have a short delay (like 20 seconds) to wipe out these advantages. Blizzard responded favorably to this suggestion.
"Exactly, a possible solution could be simply introducing some delay, I’m sure there’s many more ways we could minimize the drawbacks of this idea, our dev team is pretty good at coming up with intelligent solutions."
Players can already watch PvE or PvP events through YouTube or livestreams so spectator mode might not be an outright necessity. Still, a spectator mode would be much more accessible than those options. The fact that it wouldn't require any external programs on the part of the players would be appealing to Blizzard. After all, they added a Dungeon Journal so people wouldn't have to tab-out and check their web browser every time they fight a new boss.