Gamasutra - Is Hard The New Good?
I don't think it's any secret that many hardcore gamers think the challenge has been removed from games for years but Gamasutra thinks things might be swinging the other way -- although their evidence is pretty weak, I'd suggest:
The evidence is everywhere, even very recently: Compare Bayonetta, with its simple two-button combo system, to the more complex button patterns of the earlier Devil May Cry games. Witness the streamlining of Mass Effect 2 .
It seems counterintuitive that such evolution would evoke much protest. While it's true that the easiest way to lower a game's barrier to entry is to dumb it down, most of these evolutions and innovations are just smarter design. Why frustrate players unnecessarily?
That's why it's so surprising that all of a sudden, it seems there's a movement -- an insurrection, if you will -- of players who want to be frustrated.
The evidence is subtle but compelling. For one example, look to major consumer website GameSpot’s Game of the Year for 2009: Atlus’ PS3 RPG Demon’s Souls, which received widespread critical acclaim – none of which failed to include a mention of the game’s steep challenge. GameSpot called it "ruthlessly, unforgivingly difficult."