So, my friend was developing a game for quite a while. Working his ass off with codes and stuff related to it just to drop the project. Yes, you are right he has had 0 players for over a week I think.

So here is what I want to ask people for their honest opinion. What would make you play the game that is original and made on byond. Would you play that or Rip from the other well known games such as DB, Bleach, Naruto.

Feel free to state opinions, thoughts and everything else as long as it is troll free.
Games are played for fun. Fun games are fun. Was the game fun? What game was it?

Rather than ask how to get players, a game developer should be figuring out how to make a game fun. A game that's fun for the developer is fun to develop, and will attract an audience that finds it fun, but only if the game is actually being made visible to its potential audience.

To me, action games like Casual Quest are fun.
To some, chat rooms (AKA strict RP games) are fun.
Just put something out there and you'll either find people whose interests align with yours, or you haven't reached the right people.
What would make you play the game that is original and made on byond.
Sell me the game. Even if it's free. Tell me that your game is awesome. Tell me why your game is awesome. Show me that your game is awesome.

I'm willing to bet that your friend probably didn't advertise very well. Making the game is only half the battle, the other half is proving that your game is worth playing to the public.
Whether or not your friend's game was good or fun is kind of irrelevant here in my eyes. It's likely nobody even played it to find out in the first place.

You need to advertise the game.

BYOND used to have avenues for doing this like the blogs of old but those have long since been discontinued and few people use the website these days anyhow so bringing them back would accomplish nothing.

Few people browse the hub too- and even if they do seeing a game with 0 players isn't enticing, so trying to draw in players from BYOND itself if you're starting from zero is quite difficult. It's a little easier if you're able to siphon off players from an existing playerbase (SS13 and most anime games being a good example) but if what you're making is totally unrelated to those sort of games it might not be feasible.

Advertising outside of BYOND is even more difficult due to the fact that most people are unwilling to download the BYOND client (which gets recognized as a suspicious file by most antivirus programs now) to play your game.

The webclient was supposed to help deal with a lot of these issues but in practice that never really happened, mostly due to the webclient being kind of a janky mess with reduced functionality.

Many threads have been made about this topic and there's a reason the Compile2exe feature request gets bumped on a regular basis. BYOND has many problems and while some would argue the engine itself is the main one, I'd say it's actually all of the barriers that exist that prevent people from building a playerbase.

Would of been a lot easier to "sell the idea" with compile to exe
It's my belief there's a good reason why games don't receive players.
Either the game is garbage, the game isn't garbage and wasn't marketed well, or the game is garbage.
I don't know what game you are referring to so it's hard to give specifics but I'm going to take a shot that it's not a publicly available game, i.e. copyright reasons.

It's 2019. All it takes is a few screenshots, maybe even a gameplay video, to be posted on a few social media sites and things blow up. Hell, Mount&Blade Bannerlord has been in development for over 8 years and people still for some stupid reason (failed promises, delayed launch for 4 consecutive years, etc) still flock all over it even though nothing exists for the game except a few screenshots and gameplay videos.
Now we can scale that down quite a bit because this is BYOND and not the whole entirety of the video game market.

EXE Release is irrelevant, to be honest. Yes, it will help get the game out there for more avenues, but at the end of the day if people don't know the game exists or if they know the game exists and it's just absolute garbage, an exe isn't going to magically fix the problem.

When I play a game on BYOND I'm either looking to invest my time into something very long term so it must be a very well made game that has a lot of features and focuses on staying steady and true to the development of the game, or I'm looking to just kill a few minutes and play something quick. I can go from playing a round of Freeze Tag or Murder Mansion to spending 3 hours on SS13, just depends on my mood. But that's not the point. I'm not the same as every player out there, and every player out there is not the same as I am. Every game has a market audience, large or small. There's no eternal power at play that stops a game from having players, so there's no limit on how many players a developer can collect except the limit they put on the game themselves.

Tl;dr for your friend: Deliver an original game. Deliver the word. Done.
EXE Release is not irrelevant in the slightest. You can advertise the game all you want, but ultimately it is a BYOND game and the process of downloading the BYOND client (which again, still gets marked as suspicious by most antivirus programs) and making a BYOND account is not worth it for most people.

You can point at SS13, which does draw in external players, but it is a ludicrous exception. Lightning in a bottle.

The fact that there are good games on BYOND that never get played is enough to defeat this whole "just make a better game" argument.

BYOND itself as a community/platform is dead, so trying to draw in players from within the site/community itself is not doable. Lummox has no interest in fixing the website/platform and that's reasonable considering his circumstances.

Compile2EXE would not magically fix low player counts, obviously- nobody claimed it would. What it would do is open up the possibility of actually realistically being able to obtain a playerbase externally, disconnected from the BYOND platform.
The ability to package your game as an exe inside of the ide would honestly help at the least. It won't save or fix anything but it will help