In an interview with Gamasutra, Funcom Montreal's Creative Director, Craig Morrison shared his views on player expectations in regards to MMO releases. It's his belief that player expectation for massive day one releases is holding the mmo genre back from its true potential. I can't exactly say that I agree. [more info]
Funcom's The Secret World had 500,000 players in beta. But, only 200,000 copies of the game were sold. One can wax philosophical about what caused the game to "flop". But the simple truth is probably in the neighborhood of "they let too many people into beta (which is free), showed too much of their content, and then had nothing left in the bag to entice players into forking out actual cash for the game."
Number comparisons to other Triple A MMO's doesn't really matter. I've yet to encounter a player saying, "man this game was awesome, but I can't play it unless it can scrounge up at least a million players". That's silly. Immersive gameplay and enjoyable mechanics will almost always move a title. But hey, maybe he's right. I haven't played the game, so maybe it does require 1 million other players to be seen as viable by people willing to pay for another $15 a month MMO.
Speaking of MMO's, Project: Gorgon. It's an indie project, 3 years in the making, now seeking Kickstarter funding to enter the final phases of production. With only 18 days to go they're sitting at just over $8000 of their $55,000 goal. I'll admit, it's going to take a minor miracle to get them there at this point. But, it never hurts to spread the word.
Project: Gorgon on Kickstarter