Please appreciate the humor in this brief lesson for what it is - humor:
Game Theory is all about human cooperation. The Prisoner's Dilemma (part of Game Theory) can be summed up to this in pricing (don't worry, I will get to the part about difficulty in a second):
2 giant evil corporations (muahahaha) decide they want to maximize profits so they cooperate on pricing. In The Prisoner's Dilemma, there is an analogy based on two criminals in an interrogation room. Either one can get a temporary, lesser, and short-term benefit from snitching on the other one. If neither of them snitch, it works out best for both of them.
Well, it is slightly more complicated than that but only slightly and I want to keep this simple. There are also different versions.
In this analogy, dropping the price of a product to gain a competitive edge on your competition is considered snitching.
As you can imagine, the international crime syndicates we call Multinational Corporations have figured out that snitching is bad for money. So they do not betray each other with regards to pricing. This is why all your new games cost $60 no matter who makes them (please don't jump in saying I'm wrong because this or that game happened to be 50. It is a general thing, but sometimes they betray each other - often out of desperation but sometimes as a calculated risk)
On to the difficulty part:
Back in the day, gaming companies recognized the value of a difficult game. They knew they could make the game easier, psychologically manipulate players instead of focusing on game play, crank out more games, and make more money. BUT, back then this would have been considered snitching. Once someone starts snitching - almost everyone starts snitching (shout out to all my real gaming companies that didn't rat, few and far between as you may be). It is the only way to stay in business at that point.
Now, back then snitching in this way (let's call this dry snitching) would have came with a penalty. Bad reviews, bad reputation etc...
Just some thoughts on why games are garbage these days.
Back to your regularly scheduled checkpoints, abundant health packs, trivial if not non-existent death penalties, cut-scenes every 5 minutes, mind-numbingly depth lacking, permadeathless, strategically mundane, profanity ridden, hollywood games.
If you need me, I will be playing something much cooler than what you are playing albeit in 2d and 10-20 years old.