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They spend way too much on high-quality graphics, voice overs and marketing and not enough on improving content creation tools, client/server performance, and gameplay research and design. Minecraft and many other indie games have proven that online games don't need glitz and sparkles to be highly popular. The game just needs to be fun and have plenty of 'different' activities for players to enjoy.
Also, I don't think subscriptions are dead or concept should go away. I don't think cash shops and free to play is the natural or needed evolution of business models for MMORPG's. The problem is that people are tired of the same ol' empty, soulless worlds that are all about combat and formulaic character development geared almost exclusively towards combat. Why do AAA MMORPG's skip the implementation of interesting housing and ship ownership/construction/exploration - well most anyway - even though those have been in other MMORPG's since 1997?
If MMORPG developers could scale back on graphic quality and voice over so that they could focus more on gameplay and technology then we'd start to see MMORPG's that are worth a subscription.