Whoa, it seems I stirred up quite a conversation. Allow me to try and wrangle the various points being made and address them.
1) It's a MM problem!
I think this is false, unless the MM would work strictly on some magical number of "how much total XP a player has gotten in a given tier"... but then this doesn't take everything else into account a good MM should take. My main issue with the MM argument is that a player may choose to several ships at will, and this can range from fully upgraded T4s to partially upgraded T3s to "pristine" T3s, and I think if the MM had to take into account the selected fleet every time, then it would really make for a hard match-making. Not to mention it would be somewhat exploitable: pick one fully loaded T4 and a bunch of pristine T3s, and... what, you get thrown into a match with mostly T3 newbies? It also doesn't really work the other way - if the mythical MM would take the total tier XP earned, then progressing through a new T3->T4 while already having some T4s levelled up would be just as unfun (the only added bonus is the player in question will be more experienced). Finally, while MM matching players of different skill in an otherwise balanced game can also be a problem, that will quickly be identified by the community as a problem with just the MM. However problems with the core game balance tend to be identified as problems with the GAME in its entirety which leads to bad rep and players moving on to other games.
2) It's a player count problem!
I think this is also wrong, since the game mechanically permits unfair battles. While the issue might be partially alleviated while the player count is high with lots of fresh players, unfair battles will happen, and each unfair battle is sure to have a negative impact on the player numbers, making the problem more and more visible for those who haven't yet left and haven't finished the grind.
3) Without imbalanced matches there will be no reason to progress!
Hardly true, with the ever-growing number of skills and options available at later tiers which are enticing by themselves. Besides, players could choose to stick to playing in the rookie queue with T2s – in theory there’s already no reason to progress. In fact, given the experience some players might have when delving into T3, they might decide to just stick with T2 anyway (if they don’t leave the game completely that is).
4) It’s a T3 / T4 problem!
Hmm, perhaps? The gap between ships of these tiers is indeed rather large, mechanically, and perhaps lumping them together wouldn’t be such an issue if T3 were more powerful or had access to more goodies. BUT I’d argue that since higher tiers are objectively better than lower tiers (player skill excluded), relying on this as the sole redeeming factor is still a bit dangerous, if player perception of the game is concerned. That imbalance WILL be picked up on.
Ultimately, I’d like to see the game succeed as I do feel it does a lot of things really well (and, subsequently, I’d like to see the developers make money on this title). However, the game doesn’t exist in isolation, and while space battle games such as this might not be plentiful (I can only think of Fringe Wars of the top of my head), multiplayer team games are. So DN needs to be not only interesting and attractive in terms of initial presentation but also shouldn’t drive people away with unfun games or extensive grind later down the line. Unless Greybox developers are deliberately aiming for a small but dedicated playerbase, and hope to survive off of just this group...