To be clear, I'm only asking about the commercial success of story-driven APs, and how this success is affected by the level of detail provided/vs. what is left for the GM to fill in. (Leaving completely aside the question of plot-free sandboxes.) It's not completely clear to me that Paizo has struck the most profitable balance between detail (good) and linearity (bad), based simply on my own play experiences, and my excitement levels as I read the APs. However, it's likely you know something about this that I don't, if you've concluded categorically that DM intervention shouldn't be required.That said, a well designed AP should not require intervention to be playable and enjoyable. It should merely benefit from it.
There is much that can be said about the relative strengths of AP vs ad libbed sandbox settings, but I was referring to "commercial success" in the quote you mentioned.
While I appreciate that many players (including yours) have different preferences, I think the market has indicated that the Pathfinder AP approach is the more commercially successful of the two in recent years.
Note, I haven't got my copy of HotDQ yet, so I'm limited as to how far I can pursue this conversation. If they really don't give any more encounter detail than "six cultists attack the characters on the road", then that sounds pretty bad, and I suppose makes the point moot.
I'm afraid there's very little chance of me ever running Pathfinder again (though--moods change; never say never!) so I will have to wait on some robust 5E conversion tools to even begin contemplating that. However, I can tell you from listening to my players, that the thing that irked them most, was the linear progression from module to module. It really highlighted to them that they had no real say in the direction the adventure was going, and all of the minor niggling doubts that had been built up over the module sort of re-emerged all at once in acute frustration and disengagement.I'd be curious what your group's reaction to EN Publishing's ZEITGEIST adventure path would be. We have a series of adventures, and the links between them are fairly linear, but within each I think players get a lot of flexibility. I wish I could convert them to 5e.