Here's a thought for you: we've been waiting for the next Elite for over twenty years now. No, not literally. We got that when Frontier appeared, and that wasn't the next Elite in the way we're currently yabbering about. What it means is a game which immediately and obviously dominates the gaming landscape and consumes the social life of pretty much everyone.
Clearly, the Elite successors that have appeared have had localised effects. Reading this they'll be veterans of Frontier or Privateer or X: Beyond the Frontier who still bear the scars in their personal history, scabby months in a darkened room in an uncomfortable seat saving the universe and making enormous profits. Hell: there's the ever-growing community of Eve Online who've decided to retreat from the real-world into a universe where laser death lights the heavens (with a side-order of mining). But all of these are peripheral concerns, outside the main thrust of the culture.
So maybe times have just changed? It's a game which may have worked once, but no more - but then look at (say) Civilzation, which, generation after generation, gains a new fanbase and reclaims the centre. What's different about Elite Clones?