Every day a new Minecraft server is started on, usually hoping to become the next Hypixel and become a popular server. Within a month or two, though, 95% of these servers die. Mainly, it's just lack of a player base who actually would play on their network. Each of these networks usually have the following mix of gamemodes:
- Prison (level up via mining in a prison and eventually get out by leveling to the top)
- Factions (Start a faction/team and raid other factions, also economy based)
- Sky Wars, Bed Wars, Egg Wars (minigames with all the same concept, where you start on sky islands, with the objective being the last team standing)
- Creative Plots (regular vanilla creative, maybe with WorldEdit tools where you can show off your building skills)
- Survival Games (less common than it was before, a battle royale last team standing type game)
Sometimes they will have some sort of fairly unique game, usually a very modified version of survival and normally with some RPG type gameplay. When you join these types of networks, you're also usually greeted with a large, spacious spawn area. There are NPCs which will when interacted with will teleport you to one of the above games. There's also normally a large and unnecessary scoreboard hologram/text on the HUD, with flashing or animated server logos. It seems like every network sees this as a necessity, but I find it a hindrance - especially when you see something like "Players Online: 2/500".
It's not that the games listed above aren't fun. But when they are on literally thousands of existing networks, usually with more features or players, why would you stay on this particular one? The main issue with all of them is that they require a large and existing player base. Nobody wants to play by themselves on a grinding based game (prison) where all they can do is spend hours at a time leveling up their rank (which nobody will see) and purchase gear (which will never be used). Nor do they want to wait in a minigame lobby for half an hour just to play with three or four players in an average match of Sky Wars. Why wouldn't they want to play Prison, leveling up along with thousands of other players and testing their PvP skills to earn loot. Or they may want to play Sky Wars, so why not join Hypixel where they only have to wait 10 seconds to have a full game and play almost immediately upon joining.
But even if by some miracle (or with money, since advertising your network on launch is always an option) you do manage to keep a consistent 25+ player count (pretty good for a startup). I've found that on the average network with that many players, less than 5% (and usually around 1%) will stay for longer than ten minutes, and even less will play again after they quit for the day.
This leads to the second problem - boring first impressions. In online marketting, the first five seconds of a user visiting your website are the most critical. This is why the website layout and loading time is so critical. For Minecraft servers, the conditions are extra harsh. You need to give the player something that is both interesting and they can interact with in their own way. On top of that, if you want them to become regular players you need to keep them on for longer than 30 minutes at a time and usually a good hour. If you can accomplish that, it's a good sign they're hooked.
Unfortunately, you can join almost any server and recognize the same things each time. If it's a server for a single or specific game, you will have to walk through a hallway with tons of signs (hard to read, by the way) explaining how each aspect works. You must do this before you can actually play the game, otherwise nothing would make sense.