Given their focus on near-future technology and networking, and the pervasiveness with which the future is infiltrating our lives, cyberpunk-themed MMOGs should in reality rank among the most popular. But they don’t.
Neocron and Matrix Online have both managed to stay online for now, but they never achieved much popularity and have well-publicized business problems. Neocron recently cut their sub fee in half (to $5/month) and eliminated multi-month subscriptions; MxO nearly folded before SOE bought it and never managed to take off due to implementation problems. EVE Online doesn’t really fall into this category, although it retains some cyberpunkish thematic elements.
So the reasons why this genre flounders really escape me. Surely there’s more demand out there for a solid near-future science fiction MMORPG, cyberpunk or not. In fact, there are so few SF MMOGs out there: add Tabula Rasa and Star Wars Galaxies to the list and you’ve basically completed it. Developers have announced several games, but until they’re released or at least reach beta, they don’t count.
Markets abhor vacuums. Someone will fill the niche. Someone will get it right. I want to believe.