The philosophy that Cryptic has applied here is one that is “player-driven development” in the sense that feedback from the players should drive much of the development of the game.
I think it is a nice idea and also something that puts less risk into the project, which I think is needed for MMOs. But going with a traditional subscription-based model topped with an item shop does not fit that well into this approach to development.
The offerings of 6 month/12 month/lifetime subscriptions for STO and CO is also something that does not quite rhyme well with this development approach.
Given the choice if Cryptic should have spent 2 years or 5 years developing STO I definitely prefer the current approach of 2 years. But it is not fair to ask customer to pay to wait for them to develop what initial player feedback might indicate.
I forgot at which blog I read a little model showing moving “release” a few steps earlier in several waves of “fix bugs and add content” (link it [thanks!]
if ya got it). Of course, a downside is if an entire system fails. City of Heroes underwent massive overhauls to basic systems in years of beta, such as back when Origins were very important rather than 98.72% decorative. If you decide that your entire combat system needs to be re-done, there are few positive synonyms for “NGE.” If they decide in 2011 that Champions really should have been class-based, that is hard to graft on top.