Hey, two games I shouldn't be talking about in just one post! Warning: Baseless speculation ahead.
Exalted's obviously not dead, or even really dying. People still play it, people still talk about it. (It occurs to me that the only people I personally knew who played it don't anymore, but they're not playing anything; graduation broke the group up and then business. So anyway.) But it doesn't dominate RPG.net like I hear it used to, and there's been a bit of talk about why that is that suggests at least some people have stopped playing it.
If that's true, there are a lot of reasons for it, from the somewhat unwieldy system to the inevitable loss of the new and shiny factor. But it occurs to me that the drop off in net activity, and theoretical corresponding play activity, happened in about the same time frame as the rise of 4th Edition D&D. Which, when I was playing it, struck me as remarkably similar to Exalted in some ways.
There's the obvious mechanical similarities between charms and powers, for one--though charms are a much broader animal than powers, the combat ones at least still have the same "bite-sized tactical awesome" vibe. And there's the general "this is a game about epic heroes, built on top of a crunchy tactical combat system" goal.
I don't know how far to credit all that "Exalted is broken!" stuff on RPG.net, since the people I know who played it got on just fine, but from what I know from experience that 4e's base system is very tight, and I hear the 4e supplements are about as clean as could be expected. It does, at the very least, have a higher rate of book production than Exalted, which could appeal to some sectors. And it's also got a much greater general fanbase, which if 4e is a factor in this hypothetical drop off at all is probably the main reason. I can easily imagine people giving 4e a shot because it covers a lot of the same ground as Exalted and they figure they could get a group together a lot more easily.
Right. So. I'll stop writing about games I don't play now, I promise.