There is a side of MMOs that Garnett and Jeff and the crew seem totally unaware of. They always talk about the questing, the loot, the encounters, the cooperative play. BLECH that is not why I play MMOs! Granted, those aspects can be fun if you are playing with your friends, but virtually any co-op game can deliver that (Diablo 3 for example).
No, the best experience MMOs can offer is mixing those tried and true RPG elements with open PvP. When you can be killed anywhere, anytime, by anyone, those meaningless fetch quests become thrilling adventures! You are dashing from tree to tree to avoid gankers. You need that new +10% stats to survive. Co-op carebear becomes brutal gang warfare. Only MMOs can deliver this and it takes two key elements: 1) Open PvP (meaning non-factional, everyone can attack everyone else) 2) High server population. PvP is not "part" of the game, PvP IS THE GAME and those other pursuits simply provide the necessary progression goals and prey to be hunted, as well as an interesting rich environment for the PvP to occur in.
Tera currently offers this, and its a blast! DaoC had/has amazing PvP servers. Conan had it, Ultima had it, EVE has it. Many successful MMOs have used this formula, yet it rarely gets talked about by the press. Instead reviewers focus on the single player PvE experience. In this model, it is OK if PvE is a meaningless grind because story and cutscenes interfere with the PvP experience. Getting ganked by a random level 50 breaks your immersion in almost any story, the elements are incompatible.
They mentioned the low server populations for TOR, this killed the game for me. As a single-player KOTOR3 it was pretty good, but not good enough to keep me playing after 100 hours. For that I needed open PvP (There was also no excuse for such a big-budget Star Wars title to have no aiming, no real space combat sim, and choppy netcode). The half-dozen PvP fights I had were a blast, but the fact that there were only a half-dozen over 100 hours tells you how abysmally low the population was, and how split the zones were between republic and empire. It was the exact same problem in WoW, and Warhammer. While there was good battleground and end-game pvp in those games, there was virtually zero PvP while leveling. What happens then is you level up in a month or two, taste all the game has to offer, and cancel.
To build player commitment an MMO world has to be incredibly dangerous and slow to explore and level and master. That way players become invested and expert in the game, and feel privileged to have seen or done something few others have. This is what makes EVE such a success. It takes years to master, there is no quick and easy path. The easier it is to level up, explore every zone, and taste everything, the quicker players will grow bored and cancel. Accessibility has been the goal of many modern MMOs, to their detriment. WoW avoided this fate by being simply better than anything else, and releasing a constant trickle of new content, but this is the expensive route only a Blizzard can take. EVE shows how you can build a dedicated playerbase in a shoestring by filling your game with PvP, a world that is unique, and lots of complex, difficult systems to master. Sure this isn't going to bring in millions of players because by definition what i'm talking about is inaccessibility, but it will slowly build a dedicated core in the 100s of thousands.