It’s a response to the modern market.
This piece explains what the market has done:
People will pay for the experience of stomping someone. This will lead to blatant stratification of most game ecosystems roughly along the players’ real-life disposable income levels. As this happens, the “base” product gets to be seen as less and less valuable, which is kind of what’s been going on here. Add to that all the other base products out there to play with, and you’ve got an exodus pretty much set up to happen. That’s just what the money does with it. Of course, everyone learns that they’re prey pretty fast, and when you offer the not-prey version of the game for $$$$$$… yeah. Market segmented, solo roaming for most people becomes no-poors-online, which in turn seriously limits demand (or: the number of people willing and able to pay to play that aspect of the game is inversely proportional to the price of that aspect of the game, which is terribad for your game if your game design depends on a really big playerbase).
It does not touch what the skill and power creep do to more direct PvP aspects of the game less and less inviting to newbies over time. So you walked uphill to school and back both ways in the snow. In places where people can freely engage you, that hill has gotten a lot higher for anyone going to the metaphorical school today, even if CCP has gotten rid of a lot of the snow.
That’s because one reason this “fairness” (and related sportsmanship) concept happened was because you’d have limited numbers of players, and people eventually figure out something’s un-fun, thereby making the time spent playing of negative entertainment value for the serially frustrated, which in turn means the serially frustrated player goes and finds something else to do which holds non-negative entertainment value.
CCP has at least felt out some of the above over the years, and that’s why we got PLEX, skill trading, and alphas. They know paying to be someone’s chewtoy doesn’t fly like it used to, so they’ll offer the experience for free in hopes that they can keep space alive. It’s also why they’re messing with AI that behaves more human-a lot of the human players who could be (and used to be) content don’t really want to be anybody else’s content any more.