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Indeed! I'm calling BS on the notion that there is this mythical mass of players that want a sandbox virtual world MMO. If there was one, I would hear about it, devs would see it, and there would be games for that crowd. As it stands, there's hardly one, and it has been like that for so long that merely saying there hasn't been the right one yet is not going to cut it. Many have tried, many have failed and even if these games were any good they would've showed much more interest from the public, don't you think?
How can you have a "massive" virtual world when you only have a handful of players to fill it. And how can you get funding to something that has such a small audience. You are doomed to wander from indie game to indie game...
Admit it. You are to rest of the MMORPG players what LARPers are to P&P role players. "Regular people" snicker at people who play D&D but everyone laughs at LARPers (no offense meant - but they do).
Ben "Yahtzee" Crosshaw hit the nail in the head: -"Eve players are to nerds what nerds are to normal people."
Even if some recent themeparks have failed or will fail in your eyes, I'm quite confident in saying that there will be no major shift towards sandboxes of any sort. People still love themeparks - they just don't like shitty games, thats all.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky