What are the two biggest complaints leveled at WAR by ex-WAR players? One: The RvR endgame is meaningless, boring, and repetitive. Two: The exact same thing can be said about PvE - except all the way through.
How can you make RvR the main focus of your game without pissing off PvE folks and vice versa? You can definitely try and balance them 50/50, but let's be real here. Mythic can barely balance their classes, let alone entire aspects of an MMO. Let's also be fair -- it's a pretty damned hard task to achieve.
Make PvE gear 5% easier to get than RvR gear and you're going to start a civil war within your community. There's already latent animosity between both camps to begin with.
So, who is left playing WAR these days? Oddly enough, a friend and I were discussing this a few nights ago over the phone (which inspired this post by the way). We think the people playing WAR these days are made up of hardcore RvR folks who have had their fill of DAOC, other PvPers, Warhammer tabletop fans happy to experience the IP in a new medium, and a number of disgruntled ex-WoW folks (and other MMOs).
Those aren't actually bad audiences to work with and they can definitely be built upon. Target content to these players while fixing performance issues and WAR may start growing rather than holding steady or potentially even shrinking.
On the other hand, we feel these audiences are also prime candidates for a couple upcoming MMOs.
First, we have Aion. This is the next big RvR-focused WoW-clone (Yes, I said it!) coming to market. We think the Abyss concept will appeal to many WAR players interested in PvP because the combat is just as refined (maybe even more so) and the PvP is slightly more meaningful and hardcore. We also think it will appeal to many WoW players who choose to play on PvP servers.
Next, we have Warhammer 40K. Sure, it's a ways off yet, but we have a feeling this game will grab many WAR players who call themselves hardcore tabletop fans. It's worth mentioning that WH40K will also feature PvP and that it may even be more advanced, including vehicles and destructible terrain. That said, a lot can happen between now and release. It's risky business to bet on an MMO based on pre-beta feature lists.
WAR's biggest audience right now is made up of people interested in RvR/PvP, but we think many of these players could easily jump to one or several upcoming RvR/PvP MMOs in search of their next thrill. The titles include: Aion, Global Agenda, Mortal Online, Earthrise, and maybe even Darkfall once it releases its NA-1 server. Options for PvPers are growing in the MMO genre.