I don't have much evidence to back up my sentiment but the drought of major, classic MMOs coming out in the near future is a sign that the MMO genre is undergoing some significant changes. Payment models have been evolving for years now but the core game-play has only seen some minor iterations.
I believe the MMO industry knows that the classic WoW/Everquest model has largely run it's course and that something new is required to score big. But nobody's quite sure what that is.
So I pose a question about what the future of MMOs has in store for us.
As a reminder, here's some of the more recent evolutions we've seen in some titles.
-Move towards alternative payment models (F2P, P2P etc.)
-Breaking down of classic server/realm structures GW2, EVE Online).
-Some e-sports aspirations (WoW, GW2, possibly others)
-Focus on cosmetic gear progression.
-Action combat as opposed to hotkey combat (TERA, GW2, TESO etc.)
-Emphasis on "personal stories" (SWTOR, GW2)
-Events replacing quests (Rift, GW2, WAR)
And there are quite a few more. What trends will continue? Which will die? What else might evolve?
My take: With there being so many MMO veterans around now I believe we might see the re-emergence of some of the qualities of older MMOs. Personal Stories and similar, single-player focused events take up a lot of resources and are typically only appreciated a few times. While they help draw in new players they contribute fairly little towards actually building a lasting game and community. The success of EVE Online proves this. Sandbox games might not have the initial draw of a more traditional MMO but it pays off in the long run.
The question is though how willing are modern MMO players to return to some of the more archaic concepts of the past? (Like grinding, real Guild Management etc.)