In basically all respects Raph is right, especially at the end with “World of Warcraft effectively made MMOs perfect, and in the process, it killed them.” It’s sad to imagine what the genre could have been had WoW not happened. Sure, budgets overall would have been smaller, but bigger budgets gave us SW:TOR, so it’s not like we would be losing anything of value with that. WAR probably would have been more like DAoC, LotRO might have been less by-the-numbers, and all those countless dev hours spent creating the endless WoW-clones that we got might have resulted in a least a few worthwhile titles. It’s not like WoW being successful prevent a ton of others to fail, and I’d rather they fail trying to do something different than just trying to be WoW.
That aside, I am infinity amused right now by WoW players saying how much fun the latest expansion is thanks to things like housing (garrisons), an ‘old school’ feel to the zones and dungeons, and having to actually travel across a zone rather than just fly from point A to point B. WoW got way too cute even for itself during the WotLK/Cata/MoP down years, and the stagnation and ultimate loss of almost 40% of the playerbase reflected that. If, and its a very big if, this latest expansion reverses things for WoW, it will at least be a small victory for the genre. Vanilla WoW certainly wasn’t as ‘MMO’ as UO, but at least back then it was something far closer than what WoW has been since WotLK. Baby steps are better than nothing at this point, right?