The ladders will be a great reason to start a new character in a game that otherwise doesn't have a lot of motivation to do so (at least in Softcore). So, I see the ladders as a welcome addition. I hope that they implement a system to "retire" characters, similar to how you can "archive" dead Hardcore heroes.Quote from Snaps
It will be ladders pretty obviously, but I'm praying they don't just put in standard ladders ala D2.
Diablo 3 is not a game about character creation, thus implementing ladders has limited value. Exclusive items are a terrible idea; why people who want to play ladder feel entitled to this is beyond me, the reward is the competition, the race, if this reward alone is not enough - then stop playing ladders. I don't see the hardcore community begging for exclusive items just because they play HC.
Whether you like ladder-exclusive items or not is just a matter of opinion. Some like the incentive, some don't care for it. Personally, I'd like to see some ladder-exclusive affixes that are geared toward ladder play - bonus exp, bonus chance to find gems,bonus smithing patters, stuff that would help players starting with no support, as you do in a fresh ladder season.