eh, as far as I'm concerned games that are either too hard or too easy (don't know why you're not including that in the OP, since it's definitely an issue too) are just hallmarks of bad developers. If you either don't care enough, or simply aren't good enough, to make games that allow for people of a variety of play styles/skill levels to enjoy the game then you clearly aren't as good at making games as you think are.
Yeah, that's pretty much how I see it.
If a game is trying to be bone crushingly difficult, to a point where it ultimately frustrates a use, and causes them to put the game down, then I would easily sum that up to bad game design.
I know a few here would like to argue differently, but I'd also argue they know very little on how others perceive challenges differently from them. Life itself is considered one of the hardest of challenges, and well, our species works day in and out to make life "easier" for one another, instead of staying stuck in the same spot for centuries (like not including an option or the will to switch said difficulty).
People that think a game has to live by one difficulty setting, and that it's "tough tiddies" to change things up, then really they are no better than old guard gatekeepers, and well, gatekeepers in general are a loathsome lot.
I can understand a game being watered down, but allowing for very basic, very well known, very common staple options for a video game, isn't something that waters it down for everyone else. You just play the game on the difficulty you desire, and leave everyone else alone in their own ventures.
I do find the Souls influence annoying though, because slowly over the past decade, it's been changing devs from those who allow for innovative and open designs, to "you die once game over" concepts, as well as mechanics that slow you down or try to make you look like some rich man's "whipping boy" (by that I specifically mean the combat mechanics of "commit to action").
Yes we are still at the same point where Souls player really don't want the game to have easier option so they can keep to themselves "clearing the game".
And will fully ignore that what is considered difficult to his ability can be really tonned down to another person and would be about as difficult to that person as it is for you without tonning down.
I know that if I kept forcing myself in Nioh I would finish it, I cleared like 3 worlds of the game, but it is so boring, tedious and slow to evolve and do decent damage that I simply stopped playing. While God of War I liked the game so much that even dying much more than on Nioh (but keeping my items and evolution in a better way) I was able to platinum it on very hard, and Spider Man and RDR were easy enough to clear both on hardest dying just a couple times. Uncharted is a game where the hardest difficult are also enjoyable and they still offer very easy options that doesn't prevent me from enjoying all the other options.
But I can understand people that would play the easier options and then tarnish the game for it not being great.
Still the problem with Souls game is the monotonous and long battle with rolling all over, parrying, etc coupled with the stamina bar, I have zero enjoyment on that.
I find repetitive tasks and mission structures similar to said tasks to being completely boring in a lot of games these days. It's why I'm still waiting for that RPG or MMO game to come out, that doesn't require me to fetch something for someone, or gather X amount of Y, or pressing/flipping X amount of buttons/switches at any given location, because you're apparently the only person allowed to do such a thing. I find those aspects scattered around a myriad of those two genres, that they more or less take over the missions/tasks that are actually fun and have some depth to them.
I look at Souls combat like I look at Fencing. It has some style, but like fencing it becomes predictable, and that becomes a bore, as well as something that cannot really evolve (fencing itself is defined by a very tight rule-set, and it hasn't exactly evolved in a massive way for centuries now).
A game that doesn't treat me like I'm the saviour of all humanity or a chump, is a game I'll likely keep playing.
There are those that can play the game on an easier setting and complain about it, but really they could just crank up the difficulty to a point where it suits their gameplay comfort zone.