Jon over at The Bronze Kettle (I especially enjoy the way the husband and wife posting dynamic plays out on this site, it's getting bookmarked) makes an interesting post about how World of Warcraft's art direction works for him when other MMO's fail.
While we've discussed the Uncanny Valley here on the site before, Jon's post comes with a nice visual representation of what he's talking about, contrasting another MMO to WoW. You can see that in many ways, the UI is practically identical but what sets WoW apart is the more stylized look of the characters. Clearly the more realistic look has come a long way... the character in this screenshot looks a lot better than you would have seen just a few years ago. Eventually, you might well expect the valley to be crossed and an MMO to have art and character design almost indistinguishable from a person, without the stilted poser quality you still see today.
But WoW, as Jon indicated, skipped right over that hurdle by deliberately stepping well away from it. WoW's graphics mean that they don't come close to the uncanny valley, and as a side benefit WoW can be less demanding on your machine, so more folks can play it. A shrewd way to sidestep the issue and make more money, I'd say. As always, what do you think? Should WoW stay the course or start moving more towards an attempt at realism?