Everquest II performance was quite weak on 6800: http://www.hardocp.com/article/2005/...50_xt_review/8
X850 actually kept up with 7800GTX in certain cases : http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid...=expert&pid=13
And we all knew everquest II used nothing more than SM 2.0, but 1.1 primarily...this is actually you in 2005: http://forums.nvidia.com/lofiversion...php?t1410.html
So unless one was quite uninformed, they would blame Sony for not building SM 3.0 support into Everquest II and "intentionally" hampering the 6800.
In terms of performance engineering ATI had the lead through r430, and regained it only with x1900, through delays and etc. 6800 came first, but lost in performance quite a bit.