And dear lord has it failed. The living world isn't even remotely similar to the temporary nature or real life events. Real life events are caused by chaos, ended by chance, and replaced by something that has been shaped by how people reacted to the original event. Real life events are happening constantly, in all places, at all times, everywhere. Real life events can be created, affected, and ended by the people who are a part of them. The "Living" World is such a pale imitation of how events occur in reality that I'm almost insulted when people try to use realism to defend the Living World.
The Living World is completely artificial. It's a scripted series of attractions. It is identical to the Personal Story in all ways except that it is temporary, and its temporary nature is known to be an undesirable quality amongst general markets. Yes, known. I'm not talking about looking at forums and making guesses, I'm talking about DVD sales and Netflix's entire business model and the fact that vast swaths of the television world have converted to making shows that are sold by the season in box sets, and offered an episode at a time on television as an afterthought. I'm talking about how abc.com offers the past four episodes of Once Upon A Time so that people can get caught up if they missed one, and they offer it for free. I'm talking about Netflix television shows being produced and released exclusively for Netflix, where they are archived forever. If you think that what the people want is fixed, static content exactly like the Personal Story (or any other linear game) that also goes away after two weeks, then there are entire businesses founded on nothing but the fact that you are wrong. The market has spoken and it hates you.
If you wanted a genuine Living World, Guild Wars 1 and 2 both have examples of how to do that better. GW1 had Alliance Battles, where players fought to actually change the territory controlled by different factions on the map, with significant (though not redefining) changes to the affected areas. GW2 has dynamic events, where the success or failure of the players actually changes the map for a short while. The Living World isn't like that. It doesn't matter how many people beat the dungeon, fight the invasions, or gain the achievements. If, for some reason, everyone woke up when the Toxic Alliance content was released and decided they just weren't going to run any of it at all, ever, the plot would've moved forward in exactly the same way as if every single player had played it for 12 hours straight every day it was available. There's absolutely nothing living about Scarlet's story.
This argument is so feeble it borders on the disingenuous. If the Fractals must be random to reflect scientific experimentation, that means Fractals are the wrong way to reintroduce content. As a writer of fiction, you command the world in its entirety. Pretending that ArenaNet just had no choice but to put this in the Fractals is just bizarre. Of course they did. They could have had some Durmand Priory guy build a historical simulation chamber. Or just a library, and have the playthrough of the content be a metaphor for researching different primary sources to build a unified historical perspective of the situation, which is basically what GW1's Bonus Mission Pack already is. Or they could have derandomized the Fractals with the explanation that Dessa's experiments are complete and now produce repeatable results, which would have ruined things for the Fractal fans but would still have been a perfectly sensible in-universe explanation for having non-random reintroduction of previously temporary content.