Over the years there’s been lot’s of changes, too many to list but you can check them out here:
One main change is that in 2018, CCP was sold to Pearl Abyss for $425mill, 225mill up front with a 200mill performance based bonus to be paid at a later date.
Since then, there’s been a lot of PLEX, game packs, skill points and ship skin sales happening. Skill Point’s are also offered quite regularly as reward for just logging in. Basically CCP now uses a very large carrot to entice players in but afterwards in-game it’s mostly stick they’ll get, especially in high sec space.
Oh yeah, the log-in numbers went into a steady decline around 2013 or so due to a lot of contributing factors. Supposedly CCP is working on increasing player retention, their studies show the worst cases are in new players with something like over 90% will quit within their first 7 days of playing.
As for recent and future game direction, CCP has been winging it for the most part, trying all sorts of different things to see which one sticks. They call it ‘Chaos Era’ or something like that which also includes diminished resources and higher costs.
CCP has also implemented all kinds of new NPC’s using enhanced AI to supposedly represent player ships. Issue is there’s an overabundance of them and they’re based on top line ship fits which makes them overpowered to average players. Basically it’s a nuisance and now when you undock, you consent to both PvP and PvE interaction.
Now there’s instanced PvE and PvP area’s in-game, also Hypernet gambling is allowed too. Lastly but most importantly, lot’s of little bugs, poor customer service and little to no interaction with CCP here in the Official Forums, however they do interact quite a bit on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, etc, etc…
Sooo having said all that, I think it’s definitely worth it for older players to return with their old characters. They’ll have a lot easier time surviving and thriving in Eve compared to brand new inexperienced players. Also Eve Online is still an excellent Sci-Fi space based mmorpg to play.