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Gear progression works good for a number of reasons:
It makes good players great and it makes great players amazing.
It also allows terrible players through gear grinding to dominate at some level, (dominate the new players leveling up regardless of the new players skill).
In other words it allows everyone regardless of skill to feel powerfull to some extent and thats VERY applealing if you want to attract a wide market, which Anet wants to do.
It provides a progression system that keeps players active in the game.
You take all that away and eventually all your left with is a small group of elite players playing your game, so basically a dismal population.
No matter how much "fun" you think Anet has built into the game it will get old.
And with no progression to keep players moving forward most players will move on.
EDIT: Sorry about the paragragh block the line spacing wont take.