I find it interesting that you guys have been talking about MMORPGs and where they will move next and the one game / company that has been the best at evolving and updating and branching out is always left out of your discussions.
Now I don't even enjoy playing EvE: Online but those guys at CCP have crafted a Universe whole cloth and really let the player base run rampant in the confines of it. From the constant improvement and refinement of the old, along with very interesting additions and new content at regular (free expansion) elements, combating inflation and skyrocketing money by letter players buy game time in game, branching out to another console/genre to create DUST 514 to interact with the persistent world of EvE.
My problems with it stemmed from the combat generally not feeling engaging, however the system, freedom and world they have kept running for 9 years is something that I don't think can be ignored in the MMO space. When I see Old Republic and see all the ways a Star Wars game could have worked with ideas and systems EvE set up it is unbelievable to see that game turn out as it did.
I do get that crafting the game in a universe leaves a lot more room for the player base to own content and really go crazy but I always question why World Maps in video games have to be practical sizes in the first place it is a video game.
It is exactly the world I expect out of every MMO I play and am constantly let down.