It seems like everyone is making their predictions for 2008 so I guess I will to. So here we go with Part 1:
EQ1: Not much will change here with regards to the core game, SOE knows which side its bread is buttered on and there is greasy fat all over the raiders. The next expansion will be mostly aimed at the high end player and quite frankly I cannot disagree with this anymore. Many years ago when I played this game regularly I did not like that so much attention was given to raiding and I still think that it was a mistake to do it. However the outcome of them catering to raiders early on is that raiders make up the backbone of their game and catering to them now only makes sense.
However there could be some really interesting things coming up for those of us who just love the world and want to hang out in it. SOE has been softening on the idea of alternate rule-set servers over the last few months. Many people are holding out hope for a Classic server (I admit this would bring me back for a while..maybe a long while) and I think they might finally get it. It will be interesting to see what other ideas SOE can come up with for server rule sets.
EQ2: I already talked about this one a bit so I'll make this quick. I think EQ2 will continue to become more and more polished, I agree with some other people who have stated that the next expansion will be some kind of PoP type thing, finally I think that before 2008 passes SOE will introduce something really new to the game.
WoW: This will be a turning point for WoW and I have no idea which way it will go. They are staring down the barrel of a difficult choice: Do they cater to the l33t kiddies and continue to focus on high end content like they have for most of the games run? Or, do they take the plunge and follow up on patch 2.3 with even more goodies thrown to the casual players that make up most of their subscriber base?
It is a tough choice. EQ1 went with the raiders and it has paid off, the game is still around and doing pretty well considering its age and the amount MMOs have changed. If you go with the raiders you will alienate the casual base eventually (or at least make it almost impossible to ever get caught up with the rest of the players) and they will leave. The trick is they may leave anyway. Do they have the same attachment to the game as someone who plays for thousands of hours? They might, or they might jump ship to the next good casual friendly MMO. The raiders will stay if you keep them happy, they will still be there buying your Xpacs and pwning your bosses 10 years from now.
I don't think that the expansion pack will be coming out anytime soon, it will probably be towards the end of 2008 (or even 2009, it is Blizzard after all). The problem is I think they will have to make this decision long before the expansion drops. If they string the casuals along for months and months with nothing to do they will jump ship to one of the big MMOs coming in the next year. If you don't keep the raid juice flowing the raiders will leave whole guilds at a time for greener pastures. They will be making this decision in their patches.
I hope they take the plunge, I like what they did with the last patch and I think if they start introducing whole new paths through the game they can hold on to a lot of people through alts alone. I would like to see them make raids more casual friendly too. I think someone is going to get smart and make a MMO where you don't even grind to a level cap, you just start raiding from the get go. In fact I have been planning to write something on this in its own post.
Vanguard: I have never wanted to like a game so much. There are so many great things about it. YOU NEED TO GET IT WORKING PROPERLY! It still has serious performance and bug issues, and it also has a population problem. They have, at best, a few months to clean this up and "relaunch".
Warhammer: This is "The One". If any game is going to take on WoW in the near future this is the only one with much of a chance. If this one can't make a dent we will probably have to wait until Bioware's MMO launches. It has a lot of hype, an experienced team, a strong IP, and on paper it looks pretty good. One of the things that excites me the most is that you will actually be able to block enemy movement with your body. Collision detection can give a shot in the arm to stale MMO combat. I am so excited about the possibilities of collision detection and combat that I will be writing a post on it soon. I think they can do it. I think that Warhammer will draw in a significant number of subscribers and become the second biggest MMO in America.
Next up: AoC, L2, FFXI, the freebies and more...