MMORPGs require some kind of achievement grind. These grinds were about skills in UO, levels in Everquest, epics in World of Warcraft and later pets and text messages that were called 'achievements'.
All these achievements were very player specific. That's what made them cheap to produce. Especially so called 'achievements' are probably the cheapest achievement grind ever for the developer.
But the problem is that players get used to these different forms of achievement grinds. They tire of all of them after a while. Raiding to get better items to raid with? That was fun for a few months. Farming mobs at respawn points to get more levels? Also fun for a few months. Grinding stupid quests, that you don't even read, just to have them done all? Fun for a few months. Farming pets or even text-messages (=achievements) was fun for .. well was never fun for me .. anyway.
Players like to achieve things, and this "achieving" is the main motivator to log in; always has been. Yeah, players also like to explore and to socialize and to kill and a lot of other stuff. But achieving stands out. It has been the most successful motivator in the past and will be the most successful motivator in the future. But players need new things to achieve! Levels and epics and pets and the rest, they are worn out. We need something new!
So what will be the next thing that we will achieve? What will drive us into dungeons and make us fight monsters, even though we've seen this kind of content before? "Path of the Titans?" I doubt it. Rather, I'd say: Minecraft.
People like to build stuff. To construct something. And if you have to venture into dangerous dungeons to be able to make your real estate shine in silvery light at dawn, then you will!
This step will be made eventually. Minecraft is too successful to not make an MMO out of it! The question is really not whether, but only when it will happen! And there's also another reason that this will overtake other MMORPGs: If the achievement that drives the player does not modify player power, the social aspect of playing together can finally become more important. Social games and showing off to other players are the current hype. A lot of money can flow here.
While Character Power Progression, CPP, is really a two-edged sword; real estate is not!
A game that is about perfecting your player house, or even your guild-castle still has all the achievement-crazy addictiveness of current MMOs. It is even better at showing off! It also is much better at socializing! It feels more "fair"! And it can be more casual, which is important as the current MMO generation enters the high-noon of their careers.
What do you think ?