TLDR: change subscription model, introduce RL currency
As someone who has played and coded online games since before they even had *graphics*, (Circle Mud 3.0, anyone?) I have seen many games come and go, and eventually you see patterns of at least some of what fails, and what succeeds.
In my opinion, your billing model is suicide, and will end this game. Your current billing structure, encourages one-time charges for characters, when an ongoing subscription model is required to survive. Your ISP bills are monthly, not one-time, as is payroll, etc, and with your current setup, the average user is encouraged to pay for a subscription for one single month, to power-hour the char, and after that, play for free forever. This is financial suicide.
There are many working models, even for this niche market. I suggest a flat fee subscription model, with a free to play option at half the skillpoints. That way people can play, you can claim F2P, and have a guaranteed revenue stream with the full-fledged characters subscriptions.
You see, everyone is complaining about the bugs ignored, while you make shovel skins, and I think they are right to complain about bugs (hey, it's still technically beta), but I think most people here are failing to recognize the *ROOT* problem, which is the money. IMHO, if you weren't hurting for money, you'd be focused on bug-fixing, not shovel skins and decorations *during a beta*.
Seriously, shovel skins is a serious warning sign. Don't ignore it, people will pay a subscription for a decent game. Enforce a subscription model.
Second, a suggestion for an additional revenue stream, without resorting to Premium Shop fundraising, or pay to win, is something I've seen save games before: they introduce a new form of currency in-game, that is bought with RL money (think poker chips) and trade-able among players. Now this layer of financial obfuscation has quite a nice list of benefits without breaking the game: It allows poor/f2p players a way to contribute to the game financially, because rich players will always be happy to pay poorer players for the crap-work (gathering, etc) that they no longer want to do, and poor players are typically happy to work HARD *in-game*, and now, they can work *in-game*, to pay for a real $$$ subscription, supporting the game financially. It empowers the rich and the poor, the gamers and the company. It's pure win-win, and no pay to win. They buy the "poker chips" with in-game gold, whereas the poker chips are bought originally with RL money (of a richer/more hardcore player) You see, this forms a way for ppl to pay for a real subscription, with real life money, without a credit card, instead working *in-game* for it, (also keeping your population numbers up, btw) by allowing players to help each other financially, but *in-game*.
Please consider my suggestions, and thank you for your time.