Quake Live could have been the first videogame ever to achieve immortality status. Instead it's sick on its deathbed.
All established traditional games like football, tennis, snooker, pole vault, basketball, backgammon, chess etc. all went through various "proto" incarnations until they achieved "immortality" status and hit mainstream in a huge way. It was the the same with videogames, mostly due to technical limitations. Games only become extremely popular worldwide and culturally if their life expectancy is longer than 5 years or ideally immortal. This is why even stupid games like blackjack are popular.
Quake Live could be at least as big as say.... Curling, which is an olympic sport. And what kid that was new to both would rather play darts instead of Quake Live, seriously???
Quake 3 Arena was the one videogame that had the potential to be immortal, but it was still following the traditional industry model for videogames: get the money from the retail sales, take down free online after a while.
Quake Live was the perfect solution: The "proto" game rules were improved and refined, with RG now brought back down to 80. The subscribers would pay for use of the server.... ie. the game could stay up indefinitely. id could become the ruling body of Quake Live and rake in millions. It would be a NEW way of thinking about competitive videogames, they could put it on CNN etc. A game with real credibility.
So how could id possibly mess it up???
1) Marketing, marketing, marketing. The biggest one by far. Releasing the game unfinished and without any publicity or marketing at all.
2) Allowing it for free in a model that didn't work, and then Carmack stupidly promising that there would always be a "free option", when it's obvious there should be no free model at all.
3) Cheating. Cheating will ruin any game. If everyone had to be subscribed and auto-banned on findings of cheating I'm pretty sure it would stop very fast.
4) The computer and internet performance - if your computer or internet is giving an advantage/disadvantage, you should be warned about it!!! There are people going around with low FPS that are clueless that it's making a big difference. How can we be sure that having 125FPS means that your setup can't bring more advantages? You should also be warned about ANYTHING to do with your internet that's bad, not just ping.
There should be a short, intensive test done on the ping and performance of both players before the game, and if necessary a warning given about how it's not going to be a fair game. The biggest joke would be if you had a player who could easily beat another getting easily beaten by them because of internet (especially where their ping looks decent) and setup.
5) Allowing it subject to changes of any magnitude - who wants to play a game where the rules and strategies are always changing? The basic rules of chess haven't changed for over 500 years. Changing weapons, map layouts, spawns, even netcode.
6) Having no visible or credible ELO system. qlranks gave the game a big shot in the arm when it was set up, id did nothing in response, it didn't set up its own similar elo system or do anything like that.
This game didn't have to die... but it will.