Here's what I wrote today on RPGWatch :
In my opinion, Divinity 1 has many pieces of an Action-RPG, but personally, I don't see it as such.
To me, it's just an hybrid.
It has *lots* of fightings, but what it differs from Action-RPGs is that it also contains a relatively well-developed story - but that's not that important to me,
more important to me is the fact that it has sooooo many sidequests ! Of which only a part consists of hacking & slashing like one is used to from "true" Action-RPGs (remember the dish-washing ?).
Action-RPGs only have relatively few sidequests, I assume (well, Sacred 1 is an exception in that respect), and very, very few character interaction. In D2 by Blizzard it is reduced to the absolute tiniest necessary minimum. Blizzard shaped their Action-RPGs so as if the character interaction waw considered only a hindrance, a distraction from "real" gameplay, and that "role-playing" merely consists of happily hacking monsters, nothing more. Blizzards games are a testament against social skills.
I fear that this was another reason (among many others) that social skills were rather left out from even "real" RPGs (Gothic, for example) - from almost the whole RPG genre.
Not that they were often implemented either.
Blizzard kind of defined - imho - the "Action-RPG" genre, and everyone is only too willing to give in that, because that's what sells !
The influence was also masive on other RPGs. Now almost every game has "Action/RPG" written on its cover, no matter how much this *really* truly applies to the game itself.
Except The Witcher, maybe.
Now, the current state is, that under the influence of sub-genre defining Blizzard, RPGs in general are considered to be just or nothing but a line of hacking & slashing intermezzos, with a little bit of shopping and even less social interaction being nothing but a break of that.
Even Drakensang, which uses a system which contains rather a *lot* of possibilities for social interaction, consists rather of a series of fights.
The hardcore Action-RPG üplayer will - this is just a theorym, nothing more - just despise any attempt to make any RPG more "social", so to say. Because for the hardcore Action-RPGer "role-playing" merely consists of killing monsters, and getting loot for it, and shopping, of course. In this theory, The SIMs would be most hated, because it is the direct opposite of the essence of the Action-RPG genre.