Before I get started I know this isn't a definitive figure for the number of players in the game, it doesn't account for players logging in via ARC, or console players and nor does it account for players with multiple accounts or players logging in purely to collect VIP rewards or invoke and not actually playing the game.
However, I was just looking at the steam player number charts for Neverwinter, and as a trend for player numbers it is a useful indicator. The September 2021 Average players number was 1355.6 and peak players number was 2402. These are the lowest numbers in their respective categories since the Steam records began in December 2013. They're not just the lowest numbers since the game launched on Steam, they are the lowest by quite a distance only October 2019 comes close.
Its early days yet, but currently this month looks set to be even worse with 1323.9 Average players and a 2249 peak figure. This is of course in line with anecdotal evidence, the game feels emptier lots of familiar names have gone, pug queue times are painful etc. It could of course be that the reduced number of players consists of a player base that spends more money and Cryptic are happy with how things are progressing, but that feels unlikely given the constant giveaways and sales.
I know I wont get a definitive answer on this forum, and certainly nothing from the developers, but at what point do they realise the direction they are taking the game in is not proving popular with their players, or are we past that point and they simply don't care or don't have the resources for another rework? I'm sure some people like how the game is now, but the numbers don't lie, the average player numbers are down over 1000 and peak over 2000 since they started making major changes with Mod 16, that's near enough a 50% reduction on the Steam player base They may be attracting new players but they're not staying in sufficient numbers to keep up with the ongoing attrition.