As the MMO genre continues to evolve in (what is now) a much more mutable industry, there are increasing signs that its stability as a genre will finally cross the threshold from closed to open persistence. The additions of data, machine, and semantic analysis are coming along in refining how well development and publishing houses can forecast (or validate) revenue, and those concepts are (albeit excruciatingly slowly) beginning to enter product design thinking.
Look for more high differentiators and innovators to push the expectation of online and offline play, choice of public or private servers, and even connected-but-disparate worlds as current themes of distributed and cloud-based play mature.
While there remain pockets of nostalgia that could generate strong revenue, current development times combined with the negative impacts of “backer-based” development seem to demonstrate that most nostalgia-based offerings take longer to develop than the nostalgia itself will support. While this can erode cost of acquisition and life-time revenue, there remain a core of “nostalgia only” players who can be relied upon to make conservative ROIs credible.
Once developing analytics mature, there is sure to be another nostalgia wave wherein the MMO may legitimately come back “into its own” both as immersive (content and personalization being then procedural) as well as mutable to the interests and focus of the consumer.
Revenue models in MMO gaming continue to struggle against their historic culture of exclusionary status, with most secondary economy all but fully undercut by coin shop and related offerings that demotivate external, less reliable sources for entry and intermediate consumers. As always, expert consumers continue to both support as well as contribute to secondary market as a hidden and largely insulated/exclusionary sub-culture.
Monetization of player-created content has largely been deprecated in the MMO due to legal and taxation issues across multiple economic boundaries that make it prohibitive. Exceptions are noted for peer to peer transactions (where the game/platform either connects consumers or pushes the transaction outside its platform), and platform-as-a-partner outlets such as “Second Life”.