Recently, Darren over at Common Sense Gamer shared his feelings about the continued concern, even today, about the now famous debacle that was the SWG NGE. SOE's John Smedley has repeated apologized for the poor implementation of the changes to the game and felt that it was definitely a misstep as far as creating a successful MMO.
The problem with the NGE, from a person that is only reading about it and never played the game, is that it pretty much overhauled the whole game. It dumbed down the skill system and changed the way combat was done. But these in of themselves are not bad, its just they all happened at the same time in the same patch. The game went from being played one way to being a completely different game the next.
My point of bringing this all up is that MMO's get changed all the time. I think SOE's mistake was to do it all at once, where it became apparent. The players could actually see all the changes at once and had something to complain about. I say this because, WoW keeps changing all the time, but in slower increments.
Since release, they have hit just about every class with a nerf bat that most of them are spitting up foam on a regular bases now, gutted a good portion of the honor system, made the xp race to 60 a lot easier and now in the coming patch, you'll be able to get a riding mount at 30 instead of 40. For the most part they keep dumbing down the game in a slow but steady pace to get new players in and to make the process of making alts more appealing to those waiting for new content. But these are in fact pretty significant changes, but if taken in small doses, they become more transparent and tend to lull the player into thinking nothing is really happening. If these all happened at one time, I'm sure people would be shouting foul or yelling, "Remember the NGE, the NGE" on forums and blogs all over the place.
So, I think the NGE experience is happening in all MMO's albeit a little smoother and slower than in SWG. I just think the shock of it coming all at once is what freaked a lot of players out and the bad press from that kept a lot of new players from getting in the game.
Thats one humble players opinon.