The blogosphere all jumped down Smokejumper's throat for the suggestion that EQ2 might give out max level characters, in no small part because we don't trust SOE not to monetize such an offer in ways that no one would enjoy. Looking back on the controversy, like Massively's Karen Bryan, I'm starting to wonder whether selling max level characters for cash would actually be less damaging than the current approach to vertical progression.
Solo content in big budget MMO's is not going anywhere so long as the majority of the revenue comes from players who would rather solo. At the same time, the communities that make MMO's worth a solo player's monthly fee are built around players who tackle repeatable group content week in and week out, and those communities seem increasingly threatened by the sheer number of barriers - server, faction, archetype and level - that stand in between players and the friends they would like to group with. Even solo content is suffering from constant reductions in difficulty that are needed to keep the leveling time for new group players in line.
We already have a de facto split where the leveling game is primarily solo and the endgame is primarily group-based. Perhaps it is time to make it official, allow group players to buy their way out of the "chores" they don't want to do anyway, and go back to balancing solo leveling content on its own merits, rather than on the basis of how much leveling it is fair to force group players to endure.