Yep, on Steam, home of tens of thousands of games, only the #2 and the #3 have more than 10% of the players of the #1. Another 11 have more than 1%. I don’t think that all of the other games failed. They are simply niche.
My point is that having only 1% of the players of the “king” isn’t bad at all. Think of the MMO market, where the king is WoW with 7M players. The 1% of that is 70K. If you can charge $15 per month, you just made a million dollars every month. If you have some whales, you can get more. That’s not so bad. I doubt if EVE has more than 70K real players and the server is still up.
I think aiming directly for the 1% is not only acceptable but the responsible thing. Out of tens of thousands of published games only a dozen made it higher. What makes you think you are special? Instead of aiming for the stars and reach … Star Citizen, you should budget the development with “1%” playerbase as target, therefore design the game for a specific 1%, instead of the “wide audiences”. You just won’t get those guys, the king will. And I’m sorry to tell you, statistics says that you belong to the 99.999% of the game devs who are not called PlayerUnknown. But you can get the guys who hate P2W or hate content resets or hate toxicity (or the opposite, love unrestricted free speech). Then you’ll have exactly what Stawek told: 1% of the king.
And that should be enough to keep the server up, the patches coming and the devs paid.