To your first paragraph: The game is extremely balanced.And its not just me saying that.Basically every single critic said that.Because you know, Dark Souls is kind of a critically acclaimed game.People loved the game by being just what it is.
Kind of a critically acclaimed game, you know?
Second paragraph: Thats honestly kind of a ignorant statement.Games are made to make money, first and foremost.But devs also have their pride and artistic vision, even if they are releasing a product at the end of the day.If money and "pleasing the most ammount of people" was the sole objective, we would just have COD and Mario clones.
And I mean, hard games ARE pleasing gamers.Do I need to repeat again that those games are not only selling great, but are also selling more and more each year?
Third paragraph: So would you, trying to prove your point.Because, yet again, these games are selling better with each passing year being as hard as they are.Sekiro sold 4 million units, and thats a 6 month old number.Probably going to easily reach 6 million and go beyond.
Come on, I love Dark souls, played it through twice until I didn't feel like doing Ornstein and Smoug yet again in NG++, but the game is anything but balanced. I restarted after getting stuck in my first play through, 20 hours in. I had leveled the wrong things not really knowing what did what since the game doesn't explain much of anything and faced an insurmountable amount of souls needed to get the stats up I actually needed to use better equipment. Failure on my part for not reading a wiki first, or failure of the devs for not explaining the game mechanics? (It was my first souls game)
It took me another bunch of hours in my second attempt to figure out you could actually jump! I had to look up how to get to the lower depths since the door (near the dragon) simply looked like a painted on door to me and it never occurred to me to actually try it. It simply looked like a wall texture. The fight with the 2 dogs was extremely cheap. Zone in, immediately get rushed, track back all the way again, repeat. Until you figure out the 'trick' or 'cheat' dash up to the stairs in the back where the path finding can't get to you and chuck bombs from a safe spot. Had trouble with a fight, you could summon online help which usually came from someone already in NG+ slaying the boss in 5 seconds, leaving you feeling completely robbed of the experience.
On my second playthrough I had read some online tips, got the skeleton key and retrieved an early op sword which completely changed the game. One hit kills at the start instead of 3 or more hits turned the early game into a cake walk. That's not balanced, it's borderline insulting.
My best memories of Dark Souls are when I had a 15 minute long fight with a tower knight, wearing each other down and using the pillars in the room to stay alive. One time I got lost in the lower depths. I jumped down and hit a bonfire then had no clue where to go. It took hours of careful exploring, slowly learning the layout and how to tackle the enemies there. Same at the castle when I fell down to the bottom. It was very rewarding, yet after that the game never reached that balance again. Magic quickly got me over powered and the only stumble blocks where the boss fights which were simply bullet sponges against magic.
DS2 was hard at the beginning again, yet since I knew the mechanics I became op there as well and the rest of the game became easy with a couple vertical cliffs thrown in. The largely uneven difficulty and needing to grind to overcome the spikes is what turned me off the series.
Now if you have a game with adjustable difficulty levels, you can enjoy the whole game at your ability level! Turn it up when you feel unchallenged, turn it down when you hit a roadblock. Ultimately a game should do this automatically like an AI director. Oblivion tried this but got it wrong, making it almost impossible to don the first story quest later on while having common bandits walk around in glass armor costing 100 times more as what they were trying to steal lol.
Imo the main problem is the focus on achievements, achieving things, trophies, scores, part left overs from the coin op days, part feeding the ego of gamers. Games aren't a test of skill, they can be challenging but they shouldn't be about passing a preset bar. A good dungeon master adjusts the experience to be challenging but not frustrating. A narrow escape instead of die try again. Reward doing better instead of punishing doing badly.
Ever since online became a thing everyone has to compare themselves to the world. Who cares if your 1st or 632724th on some ranking board. Instead focus on personal improvements, your own journey through a game instead of passing the test set by the developers.
Anyway it's just a shame that there is no way I can recommend one my favorite games, Dark Souls, to any of my non gamer or casual gamer friends. They might like the setting and atmosphere but they'll never even get out of the starter dungeon. I cherish Dark Souls for its ambience, level design and subtle story telling, the game play was meh to often frustrating to very easy, all over the place.