sorry but you can't deny significant drop in player's base since AA, Khans, Hawks and others left/stopped playing.
November average hits 44 players.
this is 50% drop.
You can say whatever you want, this cannot be denied unless you're a complete ignorant.
There is no need for the devs to deny anything, they can simply continue to pretend it has not happened or was all part of the plan or whatever.
As I see it they tried to "fix" things they perceived as broken - mainly noobs losing gear and people using hex bot without consideration to how these things contributed to the learning curve and motivation of the player base. On no loot there was even a test in the middle of last session which confirmed players would drop off like nobody's business if it was brought in. It's worth considering that no loot was enabled with the knowledge that this would happen
However, even if another server with all those conditions people claim to miss started up tomorrow, nobody would play it as it's much more fun to demand the devs fix reloaded than to simply move on.