... for big one size fits all MMOs. Look in the forums for the big MMOs and there are the same themes being touted in them all.
There are now, it seems, very defined groups of players trying to sway devs to their play styles.
PvPers: PvP balance is always an issue, and I've yet to see one of the big MMOs say "all races/classes are now in balance". It's not going to happen ever.
Min-Maxers: This group see the journey from level 1 to max level as inconvenient, and they're only interested in end-game content.
Soloers: These guys want enough scaling content, so they can do everything, but on their own. This doesn't mean they want to play alone all the time, or see a world empty of other players.
Explorers & Edge Runners: People who want oodles of map content with hidden areas, puzzles, treasure all in hard to get at places on the edges of the map. They want to be the first to get to a place, and be rewarded for it.
RPers: Not such a small group as you might think. RPers want social interaction tools (active emoting as well as passive ie. blow a kiss is passive, but kissing someone that requires animation of both characters. Sorry to use kissing as an example, there are a host of others). Storyline and journey is also important to them.
Elitists: Probably an unfair name, this group do all the maths, check stats very carefully, to ensure that they are getting the absolute maximum out of their character. Often (but not always) they believe anyone in a PUG or other group who isn't max spec'd is holding their group back, and kick them out.
Casuals: These guys play when they can, for fun, playing at their own speed and socialising either in guild chat, or in character.
The Journey: Players that take their time, explore, soak up the ambience, read every quest text and thoroughly immerse themselves in the world that the devs have created. They're much slower to level, often don't want to reach max level, and have no interest in end content.
There are probably other groups as well, and some players are members of more than one group, and some have their own unique play style. Whilst it's unfair to group players together, similar play styles can be named and defined in order that game devs can make sure that new content for each play style is included in their updates.
Personally, I believe that some of these groups are mutually exclusive, and attempts to cover them all end up in generic MMOs that fade away slowly as one or more groups perceive that their group is being left behind or not catered to, or that the game is becoming too washed out. Big one size fits all MMOs require hundreds of thousands of paying players to break even, and pay of the huge loans spent on the 3-5 years creating them.
To this end, I can see not a niche, but very great market appearing for MMOs that specifically pick a couple of groups and hold fast to those groups, not letting themselves become washed out. This is where I see the independent MMO creator, using realistic, affordable tools like MV gaining ground.
Was there a point to all of this? Only to the independent MMO creator, to spur them all on and make something truly original, and not worry that in leaving certain play styles out, that their heading for a niche market. Smaller MMOs with less than ten thousand paying players can still repay your time and effort very nicely indeed. There's a couple of very small one-man MMOs that still make a good living for their creators with only a couple of hundred players. I've often found that the smaller MMOs have a much tighter knit core community who play because of the unique mechanics or style of the game, not because it has the best graphics, audio, or caters to every play style.
(bored with huge generic MMOs)