You know, I think this discussion highlights the primary issue with the online community in general. There are two camps - people who play to have fun, and people who play to prove they're better than other people.
You're only going to make one camp happy, really.
The problem from the business stand point is that the people who play to prove they're better than other people will tend to spend more money, but they're more fickle and want things exactly their way -- and will threaten and scream if they don't get it. The people who play to have fun are much more relaxed about the whole thing, but they're not as willing to pay up. So, companies have to choose between the play experience, and cash flow in the long run.
I suppose the only real solution (and I don't know if Demigod's infrastructre can handle it, and the business model can stand it) is to create two separate server pools - one for the 'game' camp, and one for the 'compete' camp, with rules optimized for each one. And make it clear in the multiplayer selection process that, depending on which server farmer you subscribe to, you're either going to game, or you're going to compete.
That fractures the gaming community, but, from reading this (and other threads), the game community is already fractured in terms of viewpoint as to what they want to get out of multiplayer, and there isn't going to be significant movement from those views. (At least, there hasn't been since Quake came on the scene, all those years ago...) So, while I applaud GPG and Stardock for once again trying to break the paradigm, in this case, I think reality is just too overwhelming.
To quote the latest xkcd -- people are complicated.