What hasn't been talked about though is the idea that perhaps some attention should be paid to the 80% of the population (QEN Q4 2010) that lives in Empire. Everyone knows that Eve is a game based on PVP and there is no such thing as a safe place. Anytime you undock there is a chance of getting killed by another player. This hardcore mentality is not new to MMO's, most games have several servers based on this concept, but Eve is unique in that it has no option to avoid PVP. Thus the game ends up with a constant threat at all times.
The problem with this threat is that many people do not enjoy feeling vulnerable. The most populated servers in MMO's are the PVE servers, but Eve has made little effort to cater to the care-bear players. Instead the designers continue trying to pull, sometimes push, people into nullsec. Having a robust nullsec population is a good thing as that is the end game type raids for Eve, but having nullsec be the only option is bad for subscription rates. I think some adjustments need to be made to help out the segment of the gaming population preferring softcore game play. Here are my initial ideas to help pull in players that have quit and appeal to newer players.
Add more difficult PVE content to Empire spaceWhen I've mentioned this suggestion to other players I usually get a reply like "incursions are more difficult, that's all you need". The problem with that response is the essence of incursions themselves. They are randomly located requiring extensive travel, most fleets want at least an hour of commitment, they require atleast 9 other people to be profitable, they become crowded rather quickly, and they are boring once you've been through them a few dozen times. The only change I'd make to high sec incursions though is to add another one or two invasions so that there is one site in each empire's space and one random spawn wherever. This would reduce crowding and reduce required travel.
I think high sec needs exploration sites with the same degree of difficulty as the harder lvl 4 missions. Respawn timers should be very short and loot drops should be current high sec complex table with very low random chance of the next table dropping. You'd end up with roughly the same value on bounties, loot drops would replace LP rewards, and it provides a bit more challenge than scripted missions.
I'd also like to see Lvl 5 missions available in high sec but with half the LP payout. The point is provide more of a challenge than Lvl 4s but still keep the risk/reward balanced.
Increase fiscal impact of criminal activity in high secCurrently there is little impact on the wallet for ganking someone in high sec, and sometimes there is healthy profit to be made. One of the best changes I've seen to help dissuade ganking is to refuse insurance payout for criminal activity in high sec.
Improve Concord response times and firepowerSimple enough, just make the police more capable and make ganking less likely to be successful.
Adjust War declaration rulesWars can be fun, but they can also drive people from the game. Wars should have some form of win/loss function. Setting a specific ISK loss, total number of kills, or a maximum number of days are all possible ways to ensure both sides have a goal to achieve. The group declaring war should be charged more for higher goals. Example would be desiring to achieve 50 kills on a 15 man corp. The group declaring war would be charged 500mil to start the war with 250mil of that put into escrow. Whichever group got to 50kills first would win and receive 250mil as a reward. The group that was on the receiving end of the war would then be immune to any war declaration for twice the length the war lasted.
I think the above changes would make the game more fun for people not as interested in PVP and thus increasing the total number of players. In the end some of these people will try out null and all areas of the game will benefit.