I recently attended Game Developers' Conference Online in Austin, Texas. There, some of the industry's top online game makers gave talks about the current state of the industry, educational seminars, and more.
One session which stood out was given by Nikolaus Davidson (Amazon.com games), Scott Rigby (Founder of Immersyve), and Scott Dodson (Bobber Interactive), about the ethics of modern game development. The main focus of the talk was how social game companies are conducting morally gray, or frowned upon best practices, but if they would stop, their sales would actually increase, and players would be happier. These practices include ideas such as making the "share" button large, but the "do-not-share" option tiny, restricting game access to encourage purchases, and so on. This coercion, their studies show, can pay off at first, but leads to rapid drop-off over time; Players discover the strings attached to their puppeteer... Then cut them off. Unfortunately, the companies are swimming in money from these scummy tactics. Mr. Davidson even went so far as to say (paraphrasing): "If you're not free to play right now, then you're insane. I don't even think you're in the game business."
The message, for me, was clear: Free-to-play is not going away any time soon. The worst part is that they know if they improved, things would get better for everyone. But change takes time, which also takes money. So for now, settle in for some micro transactions, and don't forget to farm corn with your ex sister-in-law once per day.
(Unfortunately you need an expensive pass to watch a recording of the session)