Could have been great. But it isn't.
Lemmie start out with the good things.
Like everyone else says, the visuals are astounding. They captured the essence of what space does/could look like very well. And once you get the hang of of the game, it starts getting really fun. But then you hit a reality brick wall, then that brick wall falls on you.
The bad things.
The skill system. In theory it sounds good. Learn skills in real time, online or offline. Play 1 hour a week or 12 hours a day, nobody is better than anyone else. But the problem with that is...you will virtually NEVER catch up to the people who have been playing this for years. The only way you could is if you max out every skill like they have which will literally, take years. Its pretty much like if you were getting picked on in 4th grade, by 6th graders. In 2 years, you'll be a 6th grader, but oops, they're in 8th grade now. And so on. Which makes this very new player unfriendly. It doesn't even give you the opportunity to work your butt off to catch up to everyone, its literally impossible.
The travel system. You'll be flying around on autopilot, ALOT. And for large amounts of time. Which can get very boring.
Death too harsh + internet douchebaggery = bad . I remember when I used to play Ultima Online. The granddaddy of MMORPGS. Death could come in seconds and you would lose everything you were carrying. But decent replacement gear was easy to get, and youd be up and running again good as new within 5 -15 minutes. So, while a group of douchebags could camp some place and gank people, death wasn't that harsh. In EVE, death is HARSH if you are a newbie. Spend weeks saving for that neato ship...get blown up a day later and all that hard work is down the drain. And whats worse, if you don't buy a clone, you could actually lose virtually ALL you skill points if your escape pod is destroyed as well, and count on it, if you escape consider yourself lucky. The problem with letting people do absolutely whatever they want is...they WILL. Player space pirates are rampant and will kill you regardless of what ship you are flying. They don't care if your salvage would be worth a pittance and they wasted 50k worth of missiles shooting you down...they just want to be douches and blow you up. Thats not "PvP" thats just retarded.
1 server, and its across the pond. On a good day, I was playing with 5-6 seconds delay in my commands. And the whole "one server" concept is a nice but that of course leads to lag, and the unfriendly to new comers problem. New server = fresh start. Pretty much all the good sectors are already dominated by large corporations. And even if you scrape together enough money to start dominating your own.....chances are...a pirate corp is just going to fly by and blow it up.
This game is probably great, if you were there when it started. Or, if you feel like waiting a year before you can do anything.
There is probably more reasons why, but I think these are the big ones that really turn people off from this game, and why EVE has like...100k subs? And a certain MMORPG has millions.