I've been lurking since 2008 and have only recently started posting this year. While I must agree that people won't make use of this forum anymore because of the new website, I've seen how the long established forum members "welcome" new members. Its not the typical "hey welcome to the website enjoy your stay!" crap, its just something that new members don't come to expect right off the bat. I've lurked long enough so I know how most members who post in the "General Discussion" forum behave. Its not necessarily bad behaviour on my terms but I must say unless they're the same, its something new members wouldn't want to take part in.
tl;dr- Its not a very welcoming community and with the new website being lame as it is, its even less.
Several things about this forum are in dire need of fixing if ESP really does want to have a strong community. Number of members doesn't mean a thing when they're just registering to be entered in some sweepstakes. That's not real support. I'm sorry, ESP.