Blackout wasn’t the only change added recently that may have contribued to reduced player count. Another change was these roaming trig groups in empire. These npcs typically camp stations and own newbies and anyone who is not paying attention at the time. Concord does nothing about them.
These station camping trig npcs add no value to gameplay. All they do is act as an annoyance for anyone they catch out. If you can be certain of one thing, they don’t help with player retention.
Hi-sec already has a big enough problem with dedicated squadrons of nullsec players wiping out targets of value, or in some cases anyone unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place when they are online. Now we need npc bots who will camp stations in what is supposed to be “High security space” to murder players too?
It’s almost as if they want people to quit the game.