I was trying to resist saying anything about this topic besides some comments here and there because I feel this is one of those complicated discussions that might not have right answers. Not to mention people have some strong opinions on it.
So, it all began with Aywren defending the importance of story in MMORPGs by using Final Fantasy XIV as an example. Then later on Naithin, as he was returning to Final Fantasy XIV, mused if Final Fantasy XIV has to be a MMO to deliver its story. Then there is Bhagpuss, who hasn’t made a post on the topic yet, asking in a comment in one of Naithin’s posts, if the way that Final Fantasy XIV tells it’s story wouldn’t be best done in a more traditional format like a movie or a book.
I will try to address both Naithin’s and Baghpuss’ positions and give my opinion on the subject.
EDIT: Bhagpuss did write a post on the subject of stories in MMORPGs. It isn’t aimed at any MMORPG in particular, just his instance about linear stories in MMORPGs in general. You can read it here.