This something that bothers me to this day. I been around this forum for a while.
I been here with Sandbox was all the hype and themepark was frowned upon publicly. But one thing I noticed, all the sandbox mmos that were released over the decade pretty much all follow the same formula. This is the same general complaint the MMO community had regarding the age of Themepark WoW Clones which all follow the same EQ/WoW formula over and over.
Pretty much all the hyped up Sandbox games that came out during all of this all were some kind of a grindy unbalance FFA open world death match with little group focused pve elements. They all pretty much PvP MMOs.
We just didnt have a name for this back then like we did for games using the WoW model. People here were more coded on talking about these Sandbox mmos as well. We all knew they were just PvP focused MMOs, but those words would never be whispered or denied outright by the most vigilant sandbox mmo fans. But again we all knew the reality here.
The thing is these games always failed as well. But we never saw an outcry against developers using that same formula, like we did for the WoW Clones.