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.
We all know this trend in RPG genre. But success of Dragon Age (and other RPGs like Drakensang in RPG-positive Germany) may help to give social side of RPGs a little more credit. People buy these "real" RPGs, but there are less publishers who are willing to support these games alongside "easy money" FPS shooters ("each year new CoD" formula) or other mostly action games marketed by graphics.
Blizzard kind of defined - imho - the "Action-RPG" genre, and everyone is only too willing to give in that, because that's what sells !
Its usual in many genres. Something is popular, others try to copy that to get easy money.
Even Drakensang, which uses a system which contains rather a *lot* of possibilities for social interaction, consists rather of a series of fights.
For me, social interaction in Drakensang was ok. If you choose hero with initial high social skills you can find more dialog branches in interaction with NPCs from the start (even in very first dialog in the game with sergeant Erland there was this "hidden" dialog option). You can also use it to intimidate or persuade someone in many dialogs. But I agree that it was far from ideal state - social skills could have more impact on a game (for example - option to persuade NPC to help you vs some monsters in a quest (or NPC could give you some strong weapon), while more fighter-type hero would never get that help and have to fight alone with weapons he already has). Dialog texts in english could also benefit from a little more work on characters (less formal language would be much better) etc.
I hope that developers bring to Drakensang: River of Time more detail, more TDE lore, overal better characters and deeper quests
- and the game will sit on RPG throne as the best title in the year AFTER Dragon Age. (very optimistic
BTW: Alrik, could you confirm that from your experience as tester?