Originally Posted by Gallifrey
This topic is definitely something I've thought about a lot (amazing what wanders through your head when bored, walking to work, at work, lying in bed and can't sleep, and so on!). I tend to think that a lot of the easing up of game difficulty is primarily driven by the market being so competetive and full of choices, compounded by, perhaps, longer work days/weeks.
In Ye Olden Days, the market wasn't so full of games, we had time to really spend on challenges and harder games, but now developers and publishers are so competetive, they want us to stick with their games, buy the sequels and so on. The industry has gone from a fairly small scale one to a multi-billion dollar industry, and few publishers are interested in potential losses due to difficulty. Add in the fact that casual gamers make up a huge portion of the buying audience, and very few are going to risk losing sales because the games are too hard.
Time is another factor I throw in, but that could be just my own perspective. I've gone from being a teenager with time to kill on challenging games, to a working adult with little more than an hour or two (if that) per day to game. And I kind of like the feeling of getting something done in that time frame. I'm assuming I'm not the only one like that. For me, games are just that, games, not a way of life or very serious business, so I suppose I don't have the attention span or dedication that I once had, and again, I'm sure I'm not the only one like that, so it's another factor to consider for the easing-up of game difficulty.
Ultimately, it does seem as though games have gone from being made by that maniacal game master that so loved to torture and challenge his players to being made by people who can see very little beyond a steady income or profits.
All that being said, I'd still love to see an immersive, challenging, *rewarding* and dynamic RPG again.