People had huge hopes for SWTOR as well. SE's clout has only been waning in recent years, but Bioware was maintaining a large, loyal following of players. Combine with that the Star Wars IP, another instant money maker, and the biggest MMO budget on record, and SWTOR was SURE(!!!) to be a huge success! Bethesda is about to make a similar mistake with their Elder Scrolls MMO, which is set up to be a disaster.
Yeah, you'll have some players who are nostalgic, rosey-eyed die-hards, but they won't keep your game alive. In the end, it comes down to gameplay design. It's either really fun, or it's less fun than the competitors. FFXI was for many groups of players the best available game of its time (console NA base, almost the entire JP base, and better than it's chief competitor, Everquest for the NA PC base). That's why it got away with having such mediocre gameplay. It won't get another pass, no matter how much anyone wants it to succeed.
Thing with SWTOR is that there isn't a progressive series of Star Wars video games made by the same developers that brings the same loyal fans back for more each time. Yes, Star Wars does have a rabid fan base, which is good, but the world of movies and the world of video games seldom work together in harmony (as many failed movie-into-video-games and video-games-into-movies have shown).
LOTR and AoC both have loyal followings in prose and comics as well as the big screen, but they haven't been met with success in MMO-dom as much as it would seem like a no-brainer at first blush.
SE met success in FFXI because it was a continuation of a popular video game series to begin with, so it scratches an itch that its followers already had. I think WoW also capitalizes on this as well on the heels of the Warcraft series, but also the way it borrows elements of Diablo, and the renowned quality that Blizzard had, to their credit, delivered in their previous titles.
These guys already know how to hit their gamers right in the sweet spot in a way a movie or novel franchise has yet to figure out.
That's why I think the Elder Scrolls MMO has a good chance of success as long as it connects with its fans who know and love the Elder Scrolls series as video games in the first place.
FFXIV was bad not because it was a Final Fantasy game, but because its standards for quality was far too low to be passable in this day and age of gaming. They simply hadn't done their research and ignored the overwhelming crowd who had. But given another chance to fix these problems, I think it will turn out okay. I believe there will be enough fans left who still want that itch scratched to make it work. Edited, Feb 19th 2013 7:33pm by Xoie