It was a huge mistake. But then screwing up spectacularly is business as usual for the "genius" that is Atari/Cryptic marketing. I'm beginning to think their constant foibles are no accident, that they are getting bonuses for creating havoc and driving people away. I mean, if you set out to do this deliberately, could you PLAN it any better than marketing has executed?
I haven't left because I can't (see blue colored user name) but I've all but left, given how little I've actually played the game the last month (I played more in the first week than I did all last month). Why? There is nothing to do!
That is likely the #1 reason why people left. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to try to entice those people back until this issue is fixed. People who did try the game again logged in, saw that other than a bunch of crap in the C-Store and 3 missions that you have to have groups for, absolutely nothing had changed since they quit and promptly logged out and uninstalled the game.
The earliest you can possibly think the game will be able to attract new people or old people back will be after Season 2.