Talking about advancing the MMO genre is common. People speak of being dissatisfied of the current crop of games and long for something new. But what if this is it, and MMOs as a genre will not advance any more except in the way other game genres do? By better graphics, incremental changes to established styles of play, and more of the same?
Think of fighting games. Soul Calibur IV may be one of the most technically advanced fighting games out in the market, but it really isn’t radically different from vanilla Street Fighter 2. There is only so much that fighting games can change without not being a fighting game anymore. If you disliked SF2, chances are you’d dislike SC 4. Maybe even worse, because of the increased complexity of mechanics that have been added over time.
What if the MMO genre really is like that? That ultimately it will only be variations on the same theme, and real change isn’t possible?