A larger focus on the story was a key selling point.
But was this news inevitable? I don't really know if I can answer that, the cynic within me tells me that any attempt to challenge the WoW monopoly on subscription based online MMOs will naturally result in disaster, with examples too numerous that it isn't even fun to name them.
One thing that tripped them at the starting gate was the god awful decision to make it one of the premier 'draws' of the Origin download platform, EA's shameless counterattack to Steam. In sacrificing one to make the other great, EA ensured the mediocrity of both products, rather than just one. I know that had The Old Republic been on Steam, I would probably been amongst the rank and file playing it, but EA's pride and greed said otherwise.
Not that it matters, now I can play it for free.