It's astonishing how many people are framing this as a pvpers vs crafters, wrong expectations of the game problem. The reason the population is low is more likely because the game just isn't very good right now. A combination of shallow, grindy crafting and character development and a terrible combat system just make it easier to just play once, die and stop playing. Both aspects of the game are just not there right now. The main thing for the devs to take from this all is that the game doesn't have enough features yet to call this a beta. Both combat and crafting systems need a lot of work and changes, not just tweaking numbers, if they want to retain a population. It's delusional to think this is a problem of people whining they died or random pkers - the game just does not hold interest yet. It's got potential to be special once more stuff is in, and there have already been a couple of excellent moments with the game as is (like the dev being killed by double hitting sword thrusts), but good stories aren't enough if the game isn't actually fun to play.
I don't really know how Paradox handles their developers and contracts. I've never followed one of their games from launch to finish before. Seatribe might get all the time they need to polish Salem up all nice and pretty and make it as good a quality as can be reasonably done for an MMO before release, but if I were to presume any one company operates like the rest of the industry, the pressure will be on to get as much of it done by the deadline as possible.