Combat: Due to advances in technology both from graphics animations and data transfer, MMORPG combat has become more interactive. The old system of autoattack coupled with special attacks on hotkeys is gone. Players now need to watch what the computer controlled monster is doing and react accordingly. Earlier experiments to have this interactivity be based on split-second twitchy reactions have failed, as only a small audience of male teenagers were able to master that sort of gameplay.Now, I'm not saying there's not a significant portion of the console playerbase who are teenage males. I'd be lying to myself to refute that. What I have issue with is that Tobold seems to look down on this style of play as lesser than a more strategic approach.
I don't know how old the man is, but this portion of his post comes off making him seem like a Walter Mathau of Grumpy Old Men. And as I wrote in a comment over at his blog, I see this prediction as more of a hope due to his preferred playstyle than as an actual educated guess.
Personally, I think what is more likely, looking at games like Call of Duty 4's online multi-player is that you'll see more and more titles of all genres including MMO-like features. They may not all be persistent worlds, and in fact I think very few persistent world MMOs will have major success over the next 12 years, but rather I see games offering players the ability to level up their characters in online play in many different genres from sports games to FPS to more traditional single-player RPGs with an online component.
Why? Because it costs a lot of money and a lot of development time and heartache to make the type of world that can compete with WoW as many investors are going to realize over the next few years. Either the development trials and tribulations have to be lessened somehow, or the games will have to shrink in scope. Something will have to give as the bubble bursts in the next 5 or so years.
And personally, I'd almost rather have this happen. I love MMOs, but it's becoming clear to me that paying for them monthly, having to devote yourself to them solely, and essentially spend all of your free-time with one and only one is something I don't relish. I'd much rather have a few solid massive worlds to play in, and then some venues of smaller scope that wouldn't cost me additional monthly fees to play, and hours upon hours of my time. And before I get lambasted here, it's not that I have anything against the traditional MMO design... just that it's becoming outdated as the genre evolves.
Where am I going with this? I guess I'm just saying that I want evolution and I eagerly await it, however it may be. Blizzard's beast has launched the MMO into the American mainstream... so let's see where we go from here. I'm betting there will be something for everyone more so than any select few, and that my post and Tobold's will both be rendered moot.
EDIT: I should have just posted a link to this Next-Gen article, then I wouldn't have needed to write any of the preceding. This thing says it all.