One notable issue I don't see you mention in your posts is that unlike all prior mmos you list, wow has always had roughly half its subs in china. Do you have information on product life cycles of major chinese mmos (including the ones that netease operates?) I have read that there are some simply huge ones there on the same pay model as wow uses there, but information is quite hard to come by in english. also, just the changes from the9 to netease and subsequent netease ongoing geographic expansion within china impacts your model.
I know it is pretty common here to use the wow worldwide sub number trend while ignoring the market half those subs are in, but its bad statistics unless you have data to compare to western markets showing that similar sub trends exist in products in their largest market (by subscribers).
The product life-cycle I've described isn't limited to traditional Western subscription PC games. Among the games I've already used to demonstrate it are a Japanese console MMO (FFXI) and a Korean internet cafe MMO (Lineage). The cycle has less to do with how they pay and more to do with the fact that people are expected to pay, that they are not willing to do so in limitless numbers, and that the people who are willing to pay aren't living under a rock. Sooner or later most of them will have heard of or tried a given game already.
No "Casual player" isn't a special type of player, if I like the game more, I will play more and will be something you call it "Hardcore" and if game is not fun for me, I'll play less and will be what you call it "Casual".
Basically putting a lot of time in game isn't fun anymore that's why blizzard is making game what you call it "Casual" friendly, which is an ok move.
Originally Posted by xXzCoDProxXz
No the elitists ruined WoW with their demands..
Nothing was hard just time-consuming. Lots of free time=you can have and IQ of 10 and still clear any content you want. BLizz like any other business saw the time constraint so they had to lower the difficulty along with the length of raids/took prebuffing out of the picture(like resistance buffing yourself, fire prot potions so forth) and introduced easier mechanics