It's true, it's all been done before. Nothing is original. A smart person can spot this, a smart trio of Australians can make it funny. However, there's an art to making something we all know is familiar seem entertaining and immersive, especially after five years.
I have a friend who reads here whose played time is significant. He's racked up over three hundred days, and I suspect if he put all his alts time together he could probably push that close to a year in virtual terms. He seems to think that's something he should be ashamed of, that having 'wasted' a year of his life on an online game is something he should be feeling guilty about. I have to say I disagree. It's not about the same old things either, and I'm not just saying that because I'm in a similar situation. P clicked over the 300 days played recently, and it made me stop and look back on the time I've spent in game. I've met some fantastic people, I've had good and bad times, I've stepped back a couple of times but I keep coming back, because it's never the same two days running. On most days that's NOTHING to do with the content either, it's the social aspects that make things so entertaining, even on the bad days.
I think the issues people have with time online inevitably come back to maintaining a healthy balance, of keeping all parts of your life on an even keel. It's far easier to 'hide' online when things are bad, the same way it is to escape into a TV show or even into social networking, the trick is being aware it's happening and then doing something about it. When the sun's out, like it's been this week here, I am quietly gratified to log and find no-one else online. The lack of people inevitably makes people think twice about being inside and pushes them away from the game anyway. Even though things remain the same online, you feel the need to be different. When the sun is shining your first thought should be to be outside or doing something else, simply because you have no idea when the next blizzard or volcanic eruption could be... ^^
There is a comfort in familiarity. There's a reason those four chords keep being used, it's a hit in the making. There's a reason Blizzard don't change the quest mechanics, but it doesn't stop them making those repetitive tasks more interactive or immersive. A foolish person would mess with the winning formula. To those people still whining about the Sparkly Horse, for instance, who don't understand why Blizzard can get away with charging 20 euros (for an item that costs half an expansion) when this amount in other MMO's causes rioting, well the answer is simple. This isn't the same as other MMO's. This isn't just a game anymore, now is it? I think a 'hobby' might be a better word, at least for me. It's an interest away from just saying 'I enjoy playing games', it has a line all to itself. I have other things I do, Warcraft is one of them, but I don't feel guilty about it because I enjoy it. When I don't, I go do something else. 'Twas ever thus...
The point is, don't feel bad about something you enjoy. It's the same old mantra all over again: if you don't enjoy it, time for a change. If it's making other things suffer, time for some balance. It'll still be here, the same old things, but the chances are it's not them that are the problem, macrotransactions or not.