As a paintball field owner, I have met and known lots of people who got into to tournament play. Almost all of them enjoyed it, at first anyway. Very, very few of them have ever stuck with it for any length of time. Almost all of them tell me the reason they quit playing competitive paintball is because they couldn't afford to shoot as much paint as they felt they needed to on an ongoing basis. If competitive paintball did not mandate huge volumes of paint, there would be far, far more people playing it.
So why aren't limited paint competitive tourneys/series more popular? I think it's because paintball is thought of as an extreme sport, so the highest level (and competitive players feel they are playing at a higher level than the rest of the genres), players feel they must play at the most extreme limits. Limited paint competitive play verses high volume competitive play are seen as being similar to flag football verses full contact/tackle football. It can be fun, but it's not for serious competitive players. Since a high percentage of competitive players are males in their teens and early twenties, they aren't going to play a "wimpy" form of paintball. For that reason, competitive paintball has very little chance of ever amounting to anything.
In recent years, as the industry has felt the need to pull out of sponsoring competitive play (or realized there is little fiscal value to support it), the game has become that much more expensive for many players who are now no longer subsidized by manufacturers and even most fields and stores. Competitive paintball, in its current formats will never regain its former levels, recession or not. The economics of the game (again, nothing to do with the recession) hinder the growth that is needed to make it a viable sport, in any commercial sense anyway. Long story, short...what those that play competitive paintball WANT to play and what they CAN AFFORD to play are two different things.
2 days ago