This isn't new news or anything, but I only just spotted this particular quote:
"Free for All... has drawn hundreds of thousands of new and returning players to the virtual world, increasing Champions Online's online concurrent user, unique login and revenue totals by over 1,000 percent."
That's from a statement by Cryptic (months ago I know). That's a pretty clear demonstration of how dramatic an effect F2P can have on an MMO, particularly as it has one of the magic words "revenue" seeing that huge increase. Not as nice as if it was profit going up like that and of course since Cryptic ended up getting sold by Atari we might assume that there were other issues regarding profitability for the company as a whole, but that's not necessarily related and regardless, you won't make decent profit if you don't have decent revenue.
Something I've heard from a game industry type people lately is that the MMO community needs to get over our self imposed stigma of a game going F2P meaning a desperate last throw of the dice after failure. Sure it can transform the fortunes of a struggling or "failed" game, but it can also be a hugely beneficial move for a game that is doing well. This should be obvious to us really with more and more game developers looking at going with F2P from the off. Planetside 2 for example is a proper big deal game and that's going to be F2P, in fact from the noises coming out of SOE it seems like all of their MMO games will be F2P in future.
I've spent a lot of time sneering at F2P games. Justifiably I think actually, what with them historically being all those eastern grind wank bollock games of hideousness. But that's then, not now. Things are moving on and it seems most people are saying F2P is the future and that SWTOR will be the last major subscription MMO. Will it be the last? I don't think anyone can really predict that with utter certainty, though there is a good chance of it I would say. Personally I think that the Guild Wars style of Pay2Start-Free2Continue will become the method of choice for the developers. Backed up by a cash shop of course.
Whatever does happen, we can however be sure that the MMO market has changed and F2P is no longer synonymous with fail. We just need to get over our preconceptions.