Nin is going through a rough time regarding the playerbase at the moment, I am here to propose some solutions to this problem.
Nin is not giving its players enough dopamine hits. In 2022 people have low attention spans because everything around us is designed to give instant short dopamine hits, TikTok is the best example of that. Even in grindy games there are ways to keep players engaged and there are systems so that players to not get bored.
Too much grinding, too little rewards.
Nin is based on a lot of grinding. All aspects of the game need a lot of grind, leveling, jutsus, getting equipment, summons, it all requires a lot of effort grinding. Grinding in this game mostly consists of killing thousands of mobs, that gets very repetitive and very boring. The fact that only blanks are valuable drops from low level mobs and the good drops at high level mobs are incredibly rare makes the game a pain to grind and it stops feeling like a game after a while.
Problem with grinding in Nin is that it's too repetitive. Heavy repetitive grinding in MMORPGs should be an extra for players that want to be the best, not be required for all aspects. There are not many people that will just stay and kill mobs 2/3 hours everyday just to progress, that's why it's hard for Nin to find players and maintain them. There also is no clear objective to the game. Nin has no clear end game, there is no clear destination, so there is no motivation to grind.
Why grinding in Nin is not fun and can't keep players playing.
The main problem of Nin in my opinion is that it's too grind dependent and it's not giving players motivation to grind. People will not just find motivation to play Nin, Nin has to give players reasons to come back daily and grind.
Daily mission are not enough. Dailies in Nin are actually just more grind, there are not a lot of fun missions. If you only grind just to be able to grind more that's not sustainable for a MMORPG.
I understand that end game in Nin is a lot about PVP (as other games). PVP in Nin is very skill based and it is fun, but the way to get to max level is too long, too plain, too simple and without a lot of progression. In Nin you do the dailies for a lot of XP, then you have to grind mobs, that's almost all up to level 50+ when you're able to do real PVP. Dailies + mobs daily won't be fun for so long, so there needs to be more systems in place to keep players want to progress and there needs to be more stuff that makes players feel like their character really scales in power. That's why we play MMORPGs after all, to make our characters as cool and powerful as they can be.
Also, there are not enough drops. I've never seen a MMORPG, where you party up with your friends, go fight a hard boss together, and it drops nothing. In all big games, all bosses drop little stuff. In Nin it's either a blank, some rare drop or some very very very rare 0.1% drop. There is no low tier drops for everyone that make the boss fight feel like it was worth it. Successful MMORPGs will make bosses drop a heck ton of stuff, that's when the dopamine hits. Searching through the drops and seeing "very rare" or nothing gives the dopamine boost that make players want to play on and grind more, even if there is no very rare drop, players will still be ok with the fact they got something out of their 10 minutes spent on killing the boss. In Nin you almost feel like you lose your time, there needs to be more drops and more rewards for fighting high level mobs.
1. Daily Rewards
Nin has to make a daily rewards system. Players will just boot their PC up and open the game just for daily rewards. That is the start, making people open up the game daily. There shouldn't be high tier rewards, just stuff that players want and would make them open up Nin for (maybe after 2 weeks of opening up the game daily they get a stat reset or something valuable, or nin cred). That will give motivation to players to play Nin daily and it will also give a small dopamine hits.
Instead of having only dailies to do, there should be daily/weekly/monthly Nin wide objective. Those are periodic individual objectives for all players to do. If today objective is to kill 5 ninjas, you'll see all danger zones full of ninjas, cause everyone needs to kill 5 ninjas, not only random people that get WW or want bounty. If today objective is to fish 20 fishes, fishing sites would be full of players. Right now players do anything, there is no clear objective for them to do. That will bring in the feeling of community and it will make the players more active, while also giving them the motivation to play. Of course there needs to be a reward after you complete it, the harder the objective the bigger the reward.
There can also be village wide weekly objective, that will give a boost to all of the players in that village when completed, global monthly objectives (like killing 1000 snow wolves in total will active a global reward, like 0.5% drop rate, or 5% success rates or something like that), you can get creative and create a lot of objectives. That would really revive the community as players will have to grind from themselves, their village, or the whole game.
It is not a system that's extremely hard to implement but it would have great benefits.
3. Status items
I can not stress this enough, MMORPGs players grind to be the best in the game, and they want to show it. Nin does a great job providing the feeling of status by having the Chunin, Jonin, and Kage ranks, and all the other stuff. There can be more added, like monthly PVP tournaments where the winner gets some unique cosmetic that will last the whole month, or some title or tag (like GMs have), just for the feeling of power and status. That will make players want to PVP and be the best, even for cosmetic items that expire after 1 month, it's a great feeling knowing you're the only one in the game that has that cosmetic item, even if it's only for a limited time. A lot of MMORPGs have that, it's clear that this system provides great player retention as the high level players will train and compete to be the best at PVP. Everyone will want to kill the guy that has "#1" above his head, this will add a whole new feeling to PVP and a new motivation to do it.
In MMORPGs you start playing to level up and progress your character then you keep playing to get the status of being the best player, Nin needs to embrace this and add system that will make this possible.
I'll add some other things that MMORPGs do to keep their players that are not that essential in Nin but they would help the game grow:
1. Degrading items or items that expire after some time (this would keep players playing as they want to get the most out of that item).
2. Periodic big global events with big rewards, like Trivia events, PVP tournaments, PVE tournaments. (this would make peak player numbers during the time of the events, if the rewards are big enough, 100 people would come to a Trivia event monthly if the reward was 20 nin cred or some crazy item for the winner)
3. Ability to upgrade items using ryo + grinded items like (cocoons, ant feelers, bear paws, dna...). 90% of RPGs have a equipment upgrading systems, some of them take this as far as having a lower and lower change of the upgrade being successful and even deleting the item if the upgrade wasn't successful (mostly in pay2win MMORPGs)
That's my solution for solving this game player population problem. Core game shouldn't change, it's just some slight content changes that would give motivation for players to play daily and come back to the game. Daily missions are not enough, they are good, but they can not carry the game alone, there should be a lot more systems to keep players playing. After implementing stuff like this, Hitspark can start investing in advertising and they'll have a huge Nin player population that will keep playing.