I compiled a little diagram that shows you why promotion is vital for a game like Illarion. It shows the number of registered account in a week over time in green and the number of abandoned characters over time in red. Registered accounts are all active accounts that are not banned and not an obvious bot. Abandoned characters are all characters that logged in for the last time during the week in question, are neither banned nor got deleted. Note that an abandoned character may belong to a player who is still active and that a player can have several characters.
What you can see: The number of registered accounts each week goes down and down. We had a enormous peak in summer 2006 that correspondes with the drop of the application system. The next one who asks to reintroduce said application system should print out this diagram and slap himself with it
. After this big peak, until the begin of development of the VBU in summer 2009, we had a fair number of 100-150 new accounts each week. Meanwhile, the number of registrations goes down each day. We are down to less than 40 new players each week. This has nothing to do with any ingame event or similar, people simply don't join Illarion anymore due to whatever reason. Parallel to the number of new accounts you see the number of abandoned characters that seem to correlate with each other. There is always a peak in abandoned characters shortly after a peak in registered accounts. This can be interpreted as players that check out the game and leave immediatly. However, the ratio between registered accounts and abandoned characters got worse and worse; less people join and the number of people leaving (=abandon their characters) stays rather constant. People always leave a game like Illarion, but these days, too few join to keep the balance. While the developers work on the red curve - improving Illarion in a way that more people stay - the promoters have to work on the green curve.
Make more people join! Only when both aspects are dealt with we can turn the tide!