I was considering today why it is that I prefer MMORPGs over most other game types. Eve certainly has the pvp aspect, which I feel is probably a solid draw for a large number of players, but it can't be denied that pve is the biggest draw for games like WoW and its ilk. I can't really speak for anyone else in regards to the selling point of Eve in general. I can only really speak from my own experience.
Also, just this once, the trolling light is off. I'm actually writing a serious post.
I didn't RP for probably the first year and a half to two years of playing Eve. At that point in time, it was something for myself and a bunch of work friends to do when we got home. I was in the Navy at the time, and my work friends were really my only friends, and my wife wasn't there at the time. So, Eve became our hobby, and one that cost much less than our old hobby of getting absolutely shit-faced at the nearby bar. I vomited slightly less, as well, which I saw as a definite improvement.
We formed our own little corporation and began to play around with running complexes and other pve nonsense, but I began to be quite bored with it. I managed to become CEO and I made us join with a pvp alliance in Geminate, and quickly splurged to set up system sovereignty in an out of the way system. This was back when sov was a matter of putting up and keeping up POS's. So, my little corp of 10 people held a shitty system for a very short period of time. Inevitably, much larger and more active alliances swooped in and ROFLSTOMPED the bajeezus out of our alliance. This was when I pulled us out of the alliance, got our towers out safely (True Sansha Large tower is not a pleasant thing to lose), and quickly went about killing noobs in high sec to get my fix. Before long, I had become estranged from my corp. I had lived in low-sec with maybe 3 ships to my name for about a month, killing where I could. But, this really wasn't enough to keep me playing.
I took a long time off before I came back and resumed my old high-sec ganking ways. I happened upon someone recruiting for TNT and decided to finally make my break with high-sec for good. I settled into null-sec rather comfortably for several months. But, then null-sec politics came into the picture. I decided I didn't want to be there anymore. An old friend's wife convinced me to join Amarr FW. This is where the reason I play MMORPGs finally came to be.
I met some very interesting people in KotMC. But, Shalee was probably the most important for the purposes of this discussion. Between her and Rin, I had been convinced to try out this RP business. It was shaky at first. I didn't know what RP was supposed to be like, and so I sat and watched for my first few tries before I began to really get the hang of it. I started an RP blog, intending to flesh out my character beyond the unscripted chatroom interactions. That blog (The Path of Strife) is now 108 posts long, and my character sufficiently complex that I am constantly interested in seeing what he will do next. He's gotten a life of his own.
That's why I play MMORPGs. MMOs allow you the ability to truly create another life, to breathe life and personality, neuroses, etc. into a character of your creation. MMOs provide another world, another history, and another framework in which to place that character and to explore their choices. It's not just about blowing up spaceships for me. It's about watching the triumphs and failures of a person I've grown quite attached to.
That's why I play MMORPGs, and that's why I RP.