I don't think gear makes difference in 5v5 since you will pretty much destroy one target in seconds no matter, if players are more or less balanced gear-wise or, if there is ilevel difference in gear between them (as you said, we are talking about casual players now, right ?). They can go even full pve and the result will be same.You won't ever find a competitive ladder on TrueWoW. It's a casual place where the mediocre players, like myself, got a chance at doing well. In terms of balance, we have a mixed gear quality among the players (some with max ilvl, some around ilvl 264 and some below that item level), already ensuring unbalance (atleast considering it's harder to find a raid these days). Bringing all those into a 3v3 match will much more highlight the gear difference compared to if they did 5v5. You can't really use the high-level balance evaluation you got from your AT-experience, as while most teams have a battle plan with CC, gimping, etc. over on AT, here it's all about "Hey, lets kill the healer first" while throwing a stun or fear left and right.5v5 is the most inbalanced and stupid ladder in my opinion for competitive playing, that's why Blizzard focused on 3v3 which is the most balanced of all 3.
In my opinion, focus on creating a fun, rather than competitive, environment regardless of gear.
Also, in my opinion, rated arenas (therefore rated soloque as well) should be always known as a competitive part of the game, you are queueing in order to get something (be it gear or APs for 10 games per week), if someone wants to play for fun there is skirmish mode for that. Moreover, I believe 3v3 is better for communication purposes between players during game.
I can't honestly believe that someone would prefer 5v5 over 3v3 really, especially on our server, since it would take twice as long to get arena call in 5v5 soloque than in 3v3 (it won't be easy to get enough players in 3v3 as well). So, I am not sure, if you would even find 10 people online at a time in queue, or, if they would wait for so long in order to get at least one game, therefore almost negating the purpose of the feature.My opinion might be a bit biased because I don't like 5v5 at all
Yes, this is fine too.If it's supposed to be 3v3, you can replace the 3v3 panel. It's not like ranked 3v3 team matches are being played anyways.No need to make it so complicated that people will lose interest. Simple solo-queuing with replacing 5v5 panel with it should be enough for start. Then it can be tweaked (if someone actually has the possibility to script it) according to players feedback.