This became accepted and the expectations for MMOs were shaped by it. Until Blizzard did something different. For all of its (many) flaws, WoW did progress the MMO genre so that now the MMO community no longer stomachs paying to beta-test bug-ridden pieces of junk that would have been tolerated in the past. And I think that's a good thing.
Unfortunately, that may not seem worthwhile if you don’t enjoy the actual gameplay of WoW. But I think that’s all we can really expect from the MMO genre - gradual steps. The MMO genre has years of inertia to fight and MMOs are expected to be more complex and offer a wider breath of content than any other type of game. That makes them more expensive and that means less willingness to engage in risks.
That doesn’t mean improvements shouldn’t be pursued, but I just think that expecting truly significant changes is too much to ask from the MMO genre. We are seeing the genre slowly pulling itself from the mire of its past but it will be a slow and painful process. The multi-million dollar disasters we saw in the immediate post-WoW launch era left a trail of bodies and we are far from done, I think. The evolution of MMOs will see more bloody catastrophes ahead.
GW1 was lightning in a bottle. It was a niche game that made it big. We see stories of that happening in gaming because it always makes the news, but for every niche game that succeeds, literally thousands fail. Even today, how many big coop-RPGs are there? There are single player RPGs dabbling in online play but it's still a nebulous (and thus risky) area.
If you were a small company with a couple of dozen employees, a new company making their very first game like ArenaNet was when they were working on GW1, maybe you would be willing to take a risk like that.
But ArenaNet grew up. They had a lot more employees in 2007-8 when they started GW2. Even their original employees probably had families with kids by then. With those kinds of stakes, would you take the same risks you could back when you were a smaller company?
ArenaNet did take some risks with GW2. They started development years before the non-sub model became so accepted for example. They chose to move the behemoth of the MMO genre in a gradual step, just as Blizzard did. Those kind of risks are a naturally different than the ones the ArenaNet of 2000 would take because ArenaNet is no longer that company.
Would I be wrong in judging from your previous posts that you are upset because ArenaNet is no longer that company from 2000? The thing is it’s nearly impossible to stop a company from growing and evolving. Companies either do that or they stagnate and fail.
ArenaNet in 2008 needed to make a successful game. They needed to keep paying the people who had helped the company grow over the years. And from all accounts they have made a successful game to the point where there are even GW1 players who enjoy it. Going back to you point about Mass Effect 3 and Simcity, gamer rage is pretty much universal across genres when it manifests. There hasn't been the kind of upswell with GW2 compared to other MMOs that ended up real failures like FFXIV, WAR, SWG post-NGE etc.
I don’t think ArenaNet could have or should have tried to make a co-RPG like GW1 again. That kind of game really needs to come from a small company. ArenaNet had become a larger player and they are making games to reflect that. And I’m glad to see the game they ended up make is helping to push MMOs into a better place.