A lot of mmo's have come out recently, (Last few years) that have been called failures, and most would blame early releases, and would essentially be correct. Here is a numbered list of industry "standards" I guess that game devs continue to follow and it boggles my mind that they don't change these. Find a lower standard, so they release a polished game, while still offering us a game full of content.
1) Starting Max Level 50: Why 50? Because eq did it? WoW did it? Most games out there have done it? I would prefer having 20 levels of solid game content, with possible level 20 raid content available to me at release, then to have 20 levels of ok content, and then 30 levels of grinds and crappy or no content.
There is nothing saying you have to start with 50 levels, and there is nothing saying that level 20 raid dungeons can't be turned into one group content at a later date when you can add levels and more "working" content.
2) Why release with a billion races and classes? Give us a run down or list of classes you plan to implement in the future, but have a shorter list of them ready to go out the door. If you can add more, then by all means go for it. However get the race/classes that you want at release to be working at least 90%. Before you try to add in more classes and races.
3) A world doesn't need to be released with 500 areas right off. Use one continent, floating isle, planet, or wahtever and fill it with content, and quests, and pack it in good for release. Planning for others, but not polishing them for release and just give us a big continent packed to the brim, with lots of stuff to do, and then add more to it. We want a polished game, not one with 300 of the 500 areas empty with out so much as a squirrel to kill.
I say this because the people backing these games obviously want a game out the door making them money, and we, or at the very least me, want a polished game that plays well and has stuff to do. Racial quest lines, stocked with lore. Quests for legendary items, that actually work. Raids, more then one. Community hot spots for trade, grouping up and questing.
If you give me a solid product with stuff I can continue to do, I will be appeased till you release more content, as I'm sure most would.
What I would love to see is quite simply a game with a max level of 20 out the door, with content actually designed for large groups of level 20s, as well as single group and/or solo content. Quests that work, zones that are populated, and game that runs smoothly, I can live without the level 50, and the extra races and classes, until such a time that you can continue to release the content.
In this fashion, you will be able to release a product in shorter time, and the people paying to produce the game will be off your back, because for most mmo's it seems like they are on a 5 year plan, imagine if you could cut that time in half and manage to not piss off your customer base. A solid product IMO will get more subs, then a massive game with tons and tons of content, that just doesn't work. Also by releasing a smaller finished game, you can let people know all the stuff that is already in development that will be released over the course of the first year. Giving customers a lot of cool things to look forward too.
I understand that having all that additional content is good for marketing, but IMO its the game community thats going to keep the subs coming in and if they are happy with the game, then they will tell their friends who will tell their friends.
Its great that games want to give you the biggest and the best, but as it has been shown time and time again that just fails. Look at WoW for example. I just think that games try to hard to blow our minds and impress us and fall on their face, where as I'd be impressed with a game that works the first day it goes live, and even more impressed that it has an end game for the current max levels.
Anyway rant off,