It might very well all be PR BS, but I like what Tørnquist from Funcom said about The Secret World:
“We’re not going to play it safe,” Tørnquist assures players. “We won’t be introducing classes or levels, elves or dwarves, and regardless of the competition, we won’t back down from our original vision. We’re going to keep doing what we’re good at. We’ll continue to push the boundaries, and we’ll keep reinventing the wheel (quite literally). Five years ago, we set out to revolutionize the genre, and the revolution has just begun.”
Ok, that last bit is a little much, but the first part is something I wish everyone in the genre would do. It’s what CCP did back in 2003, and while things are not apple to apples between CCP then and Funcom today, the core design philosophy is correct.
The biggest problem for TSW has nothing to do with its content or systems (never played it, but those who do today seem very happy with it). It’s that Funcom designed a niche MMO on (maybe?) an AAA budget and expected AAA sales. 200k units sold is a very workable number if you plan for it. If you plan for 1m+, not so much.