Hi Rogier. You're right, I planed to do a following post at the time and didn't do it.
There are some elements of answers though in that post here:https://plus.google.com/110873640795387924972/posts/SdnPzjvV1op
Also there's another way to do an horizontal progression while still keeping a vertical feeling to it like Arenanet is doing it for Guild Wars 2.https://plus.google.com/110873640795387924972/posts/creg8d1RPoD
The leader Blizzard can "feel" there's something wrong with vertical progression nowadays but don't get "Social" yet (they succeeded before the Social era) and they just think it's an aesthetic problem:http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3885585
Blizzard even say: "If your answer is that stat budgets don’t have to grow so much in order for players to still want the gear, our experience says otherwise"
What they don't realize is that their data mining don't only measure player activity but also their own rules (people play by the rules); one would think that losing 3 millions players during the last expansion would wake them up but not yet.
Even if Guild Wars 2 fails I expect it will mark a transition in the MMO industry with "Social ready" MMOs. I'm going to test their sidekick system very soon since pre-access start this evening.
I want to also investigate Age of Wulin (huge chinese MMO coming in EU/US) which seems to have an horizontal progression but not 100% sure.
In the end I compare the MMO industry to the Web2/Social industry (will probably do a post about it soon).
1) Is it easily accessible?
(web2 is mostly "free", accessible in a simple browser, sells convenience/aesthetic/services)
2) can real friends interact together in a meaningful way?
(in web2 people can still interact not based on servers/factions/levels)
3) can people have a minimal "write" feature?
(some people like to consume content but some also like to share or even create content like Minecraft => User Generated Content)
The reason I sound "angry" about the MMO industry is that I'm convinced there's a huge untapped potential and that this market should be 10 times bigger and not bleeding like it is right now.