Well, Fey, I wish I had your optimism. The problem is, as I've said before, the investment that MMOs require vs. the risk. The more the risk, the less they'll change.
So if Guild Wars 2 is successful, really successful, then it will be copied and the genre will move in a direction I like, for a change.
I see where you're coming from. But games don't need to be insanely successful to help the industry grow. If it makes you or anyone else who's worried feel any better, here's a little bit of insight which a lot of people don't realize about the creativity of game design and how it changes over time.
During the mid 90's when true 3D gaming was starting to gain a lot of traction, Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot released in the same year (1996). It's pretty obvious which one was more popular.
The creator of Crash Bandicoot, Andy Gavin, even though Nintendo won that battle by a landslide, went on to continue his franchise. When Crash Bandicoot: Warped (3) released, the franchise became more well known. The series in general was one of the first to incorporate a lot of story as well as the wacky platforming style that's similar to Mario.
In 2001 he continued on to create Jak and Daxter, one of the more successful 3D Platformers of it's time. As time progressed, Jak II and Jak 3 released but they never really gained that monumental status that the first one had achieved with the general consumer base. However, despite this, the story elements continued to advance, they became less goofy and more serious. Something I think you'd appreciate.
Using that knowledge and experience, fighting a losing battle with Nintendo's renowned titles, the creativity of the developers continued to advance. And in 2007, that same designer, Andy Gavin; gave us Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Which was phenomenal.
Just because a game doesn't do as well as intended or outright fails, doesn't mean the creativity is lost. If anything, it can help inspire designers to push harder.
Of course, the business side of things always sucks. As Andy Gavin had no hand in the creation of Uncharted's sequels. But still, it's very impressive to jump from Crash to Drake in such a short amount of time.
Fey, you have to remember, I ran a computer store and did all the game buying for a long time. Evolution in most genres happens faster than MMOs because of the obscene start up costs and development time of an MMO. Of course it will evolve...eventually. But I'm 50 years old. I'd like to see it evolve before I get social security. lol
On a more serious note, it's not evolution I'm thinking about, but evolving in the direction I'd like to see. If Guild Wars 2 doesn't do well, it's less likely that devs will take the time to copy some of the more contentious parts of the system. For example, I really dont' want to play a game with the trinity. I can't stand them. For another thing, I want cities that make me feel like I'm in cities. WoW did that well. Rift...not so much. lol
There are things I really like about Guild Wars 2. If it's successful, the chance of those things being picked up are greater than if it fails.