Yes. The difficulty of the game scales with the balance requirements. Stealth games in particular are hard, simply by their nature of lacking weapons and gradually getting to your goal, and then getting out again, all without being seen, or taking actions so people don’t remember you. The difficulty of a game is often inherent to the genre.
Games like DiRT are ball-crushingly hard to get used to, but the tracks are consistent, callouts are good and precise, and the driving, once you get used to the physics of the game, is very good. And those physics are consistently being improved in each release (often to the point of being a selling point for the series) to be the best It can be to a proper rally experience. DiRT is not a game I like playing because it’s a lot to learn, and it is incredibly punishing if you mess up a corner or mis-remember a tracks’ terrain, but I don’t scream at my monitor that the game isn’t balanced if I screw up a corner, but because I messed up, and that’s a sign of good balance. If you don’t feel cheated, then it’s not badly balanced. If you do feel cheated, then it needs more work.
PAYDAY 2 stealth, which is also quite bitchy, has random elements within it. The level parts often change, NPC’s move locations, keycard, camera, and tools spawn in different places. And this resets every time you restart. Players feel cheated because they have no control over the game and how it royally fucks you over; the RNG gods decide your fate, not your weapons.
It’s not a surprise then, that the most popular stealth heist in the game is the Yacht Heist, which has no cameras, very little randomisation, and is mirrored on each side for easy navigation.
Yes, because making a game more accessible means more people will play it. Something I do appreciate with Square Enix and IOI in recent years is making the game easier for newcomers to play it by simplifying mechanics to make things more consistent and better understood (the enforcer system, instinct), with the only real gripe being sight cones being tied to the head (but even those are learnable as NPC’s all have the same looking animation). Mission Stories and Intel and other poking at the player is a good way to get people more involved, not to mention being good QOL.
That’s convenience for the player so you can think about more important and pertinent things.
Easiness depends on how a game is made and the motivation behind it. Difficulties are also permeable, not linear. For game balance to be effective, the game itself has to work as intended.
Sniping in Colorado at the water tower is notoriously buggy because of how the AI react to it, but that doesn’t make sniper rifles underpowered; it makes the AI’s coding flawed. Sniper rifles are underpowered because the game punishes you too harshly for using them and there’s basically no method to take advantage of sniping kills that grant S/A; not naturally anyway.
Of course, difficulty is subjective, to an extent. People simply do not like hard games, it’s why stealth games are usually quick to go on sale because of how few people play them. Until really recently, they’ve been a niche, akin to Horror video games.
Usually there’s logic, flawed or not, behind balancing decisions. And balance usually is for the benefit and/or detriment of everyone, not just one person. It’s not a perfect system, but better than a free-for-all. Hitman is a wide-open sandbox with mechanics and goals that are deliberately more linear, so as to keep people on task. Sandboxes, true sandboxes, have overarching goals and sidequests, which means weapon balance is handled differently to accommodate for that.
Long post is long, but I hope that provides some insight.