Some people claim that it is impossible to create an open world as detailed as Skyrim for a MMORPG because that would be too expensive.
Their main argument is that the MMO world has to be larger than Skyrim. There are two points I want to make:
First, I don't think that Skyrim's world is that small, really. I haven't yet tried to walk from one edge of the world to the other, but that would certainly take quite a while.
The other, more important, point is that Skyrim had eight level designers working on its 150 dungeons that populate the open world. Let's assume that one level designer costs the company $200.000 a year to employ. That includes the administrative costs as well as the equipment he requires.
Eight of them cost $1.6 mio a year. Now, remember how much money a successful AAA MMO company makes. Here's a reminder. It is easily possible to employ 40 or a hundred level designers! There are no diminishing returns here, really: twice as many level designers create almost twice as much landscape per year.
Since there is no Steve Jobs in the games industry we need more competition for games with huge, detailed open worlds. It's not a problem of profit; it's a problem of incentives for the industry.