Excuse me for my late rely to this. I would like to make a nice post with my views and maybe suggestions but my free time is sooo small right now that i ll just say a few important things here.
First of all, @Developers where the first to say here that they wouldnt like the game to be Pay to Win. Seriouly, more than half of the suggestions here will make the game heavly Pay-to-Win.
If you ask me, going down that road will bring "game over".
Items purchased from cash shop should NEVER make progeressing faster or give special abilities to characters. Also adding a VIP membership with increased drop rates and stuff, means that to be Competative you have to be VIP. I have personally played a very big number of MMOs, both with p2p,p2w, VIP status and stuff.
The only way for honest game with honest income is the Pay-to-Play model. Now given the state of this games playerbase, Pay-to-Play doesnt seem viable for us here, although a small VIP status with some benefits would be what you guys are looking for. Not drop rates and stuff, but daily quests and daily dungeons and stuff. I will go into this more later.
Now, the cash shop currently on is not even close to good. Most items are useless there. So yeah i agree you invest to a revamp there, but only with cosmetics and items that dont help progress and stuff. I will add on that too later, cause my main point here is another one.
Considering @Prometheus statement in this post, (and excuse for saying this the harsh way, i dont mean that bad) it seems that the game has failed in the end. No profit means no game support, updates, fixes, etc. So the real thing here is do you guys want to make this a P2W game and continue with not much dev support? That would suck.
I have been thinking about how much a game like this could cost monthly or how much the devs want to make from it per month, to see how many profit the community has to gather every month from shop to keep this up with profit to the team.
Honestly we are like 50 ppl playing this game? So even if we all support with like 50$ a month, that equals to 2,5k $ per month. This ammount is hilarious! This game can't be profitable just by a cool cash shop or paying model cause the player base is tooo low to keep this up!
So back to my original problems/thoughts. @Developers should discuss themselfs about this games future. And queston yourselfs, do we want to make this work? or do we abandon the project? Making that strong changes with the addition of items that will ruin the game as we know it and hoping for profits of 5-8k $ per month is like abandoning the game cause it will never be the same, and you will still wont have profit to live from it.
Now if you like to make this work, here is what i suggest:
Your main and solely efforts atm should be to bring MUCH more ppl in game. At least 150-200 players should be online at all times a day. This would need big updates to many things in game, (like map size, even realm size/number, improved protection system for new players etc etc). To do that,
a) You have to rethink what linkrealms really is and market it right. Linkrealms is Full Loot PvP game, where you can own a non-instanced piece of land and create your own kingdom. Be whoever you want to be, and dominate the world through trade or power of weapons. Fuck UO experience and promote your own strenghts. Revamp many things in game and fix them first, (honest cash shop inluded), and repromote from start as a new revamped thing. Like FFXIV did.
b) You have to reach to people that matter in the game industry and make them talk about you. You might have to pay them first, so you will need to create a bugdet. I m talking about Youtube reviewers, MMO reviewers, IGN, Gamspot etc. Already told this to PM to you too.
c) You first have to accept defeat and like the Phoenix rise from the asses. Believe me this game has the base to be a masterpiece. If you guys hit bottom with it, you still have a very good product to build on. What i would do, is stall updating with new content atm, make a good marketing plan, make a vision about what your game would like to be in the future and go ask for crowdfunding, so you can finish the updates and the advertising campain. The $ and hype you could get from a move like this can save the game and your jobs. This would be the checkm8 in order to make this a master piece with hundreads and maybe more ppl online. A new revamped experience.
So please think about this statement, and be sure that if you move to a more paying model like VIP, or P2P or P2Wish cash shop, the game wont be the same again and will slowly die, cause you wont get the money you need from 50-100 ppl that play the game and production will be left aside in the end. If you want to save the game, revamp, take some time off from updating, and rethin about the way you market this. Make a plan, and go crowdfunding and you will have our help ,test and support here, to make this a masterpiece.