I think macd21's post sums up my feelings as well.
I play WOW, I play tabletops, and I also GM Dark Heresy. That said, I would always leave my WOW toons in the dust if someone said "hey, let's roleplay."
I consider these two distinct hobbies that fulfill two very different interests.
Tabletop games fulfill my love of storytelling. MMO's are just a mechanical game. To me, to call them the same is like saying reading a novel is the same as playing Monopoly. Despite their names, I do not consider most MMO's to be a "RolePlaying" game.
And when it comes to exercise of my free time, story telling will always win out over a flashy mechanical game. It is quite frankly why the GW tabletop games never appealed to me much, except as pretty shelf decorations.
So as mac said, tabletop RPG companies that do well will be the ones that cater to people like myself (wow, I never thought I would find myself saying I am anything close to the target market of games about Space Marines and nuns with guns), who prefer storytelling to hack and slash.
I blame WoW for the 4th ed D&D. Ridiculous!
So do I. Myself and and a number of other gamers I know have gone back to 3'rd ed. Wizards did the exact opposite of the recommendation above. They tried to cater to an audience whose primary goals are not best served by a pen and paper game.
40K Campaigns: http://aethel.net/40krpg
honestly im sure RPGs will never die and im a fact of it i started when i was 15 thouroghly in love with WoW and because of how DH is and pen and paper games are im disgusted with MMORPGs now (fallout 3 excluded because i dont veiw it as an rpg) i love pen and paper because unlike wow i can choose anything my mind can come up with unlike being an ork warrior for the umpteenth time and oh yes im 16 now very soon to be 17 and i have a group of 7 or 8 ppl that are all under twenty that play and yes 3.5 is so much better than 4 it makes me want to burn all the 4 ed books in a witch hunters pyre...
-Working for the inquisition is like playing poker, you never beat the house and you end up losing a leg and arm somewhere in the mix.
I'm not sure it's just World of Warcraft or MMOs in general. I believe that it is the fault of computer games; they are far too accessible and do not require all that setting up. It takes less effort to play against others online than to organise a day or night of roleplaying. Yesterday, I attempted to arrange a game of Arkham Horror and no one was interested because they were having a LAN day.
These days, I just run roleplaying games via a forum. I'm close to giving up on tabletop roleplay.
Move him into the sun
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morningthis snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
- Wilfred Owen
I did a lot of good Roleplaying on my WOW server and have a good RP community who rather take the Background of WoW to create there own adventures, story-archs and backgrounds. It takes a bit of effort to beat the mechanics sometimes but it is a very rewarding virtual WOW Pen and Paper gaming table.
And many of the people who participate in these WOW Rps are persons who get very involved but never knew about RPs in the first place. I do intro rounds to school classed once a year on a book fair. It is now much easier to explain to the young ones what Pen and Paper is all about, since they already now the mechanical side of it.
Normally at least some of them get hooked up. And that is the potential for growth! 11 Millionen potential Pen and Paper gamers! If only every 5th hundered one start also doing P&P we got 22000 new gamers.
To me the distinction is simple:
Scourge? I don't think so... I appreciate my real world friends, because I can probably call upon them should I need help, but I can't say the same for my online acquaintances.