I get it man. I understand why they do it. Maybe it's time for a different approach? Maybe beating the boss will be the reward? After seeing Absolute Virtue, i can see SE taking this road. Get the awesome gear first, then try to beat the boss. The boss may drop some cool new stuff. Wouldn't it be cool if the boss dropped weapons.... for classes we don't know exist yet?
I am speculating, and sorry for that lol. My whole point was, I haven't seen any gear drop at all, therefore, i assume gear drops may be rare at this point.
Beating the boss will never be the reward if you understand the player-base that play MMOs. The reason why Absolute Virtue is a hot topic is not because its so hard to beat and thats the reward, it's because he drops some of the best items in the game. The speed sash in itself is groundbreaking with haste along with the other gear it drops. If he didn't drop anything, people wouldn't even bother killing it, which is why HNMS like jorm and hydra etc, just be up walking around all day (and at least they drop materials).
Also classes will be known because of dat mines. Just like we know about classes like fencer, mystic, enforcer, etc even though they won't be in for release. Once Mobs are added there drops are dat mined by the players and thats how we know what they drop before they are ever even defeated. So it wouldn't be a surprise to the players.
Another problem with this is that not everybody participates in endgame. This would mean a lot of your casual audience (which is your target audience) wouldn't be able to play the new classes. This will hurt your market and is why stuff like classes is available to all and stuff like gear is the incentive. Casuals understand that they won't have the best gear so it is the perfect incentive. Casuals will not be okay with not being able to play new classes because they drop from HNMs though, and that is your target audience.
So to sum it up...
1. There has to be an incentive or people will not do the content.
2. The incentive cannot be detrimental to your target audience (like putting new classes on Endgame HNM content)
3. Its an approach that works and makes the most sense when you look at it from all angles.
4. The incentive to kill the bosses can not totally kill 1 group of core players (like new classes from HNM big bosses) but it also has to be good enough to give people motivation to keep playing. Gear is the perfect bridge (at least to companies it is) to allow both sides to be happy.
I'm not against a different approach but I don't see one that works if you think about it logically from a business standpoint. They have to keep you playing without upsetting a huge portion of there player-base in the process. Maybe HNMs could drop skills instead of gear (like new weapon skills or magic spells), but I dont see casuals taking that well either. The majority of the content has to be accessible to your largest crowd (which is casuals), with enough hardcore content as well to keep your hardcore base happy. Gear does the trick in keeping hardcore players happy.