Id say FFXI changed not because players changed but because SE wanted to try to compete with WoW so they made their game more easy to draw in players who left FFXI for games like WoW because FFXI was too hard lol.
It doesnt have to give difficulty on a routine and constant basis.. but it has to be there SOMETIMES... I like the feeling of relief after a hard fought victory or the sense of accomplishment that was gained knowing you did something very few others could or have done yet.
CoP was a prime example
my group did CoP before guides existed so we had to figure things out on our own, also we did havnt any nins, smns in our groups so all our battles were fought and won the hard way... we were tanking promy bosses with wars or plds, didnt have astral flow, and being the mithrain trackers without astral flow as well as fighting the mammets in in riverne without having 3nins and 3 whms to duo even mammet, our victories came with a lot of exp lose and money spent (i know I myself spent at least 150k on hi potions and ethers PER boss fight) yet when we finally did taste victory we felt like gods, because we proved SE didnt make those quests with only certain jobs in mind, sure certain jobs had an easier time but any balanced group could do it, strategy and skill wins over job setup anyday, and since we didnt have the jobs we clearly had the strategy and skills. Id always laugh when Id go in Jeuno and see ppl shouting for smns and nin /nin ONLY for promy or "thinking to myself we didnt need them, maybe they shoudl try stepping their gam eup and doing it with a normal party as opposed to shouting for 10 hours"
EVERY battle in FFXI wasnt hard i.e you could get to rank 10 or sky without any trouble at all, same with ToAU and the WOTG missions but those of us who WANTED a challenge we at least had the option
I mean in Sky they mad the ark angel missions and the last battle, but most ppl just got as far as getting Sky so that they could fight gods... no one hardly ever did those other two missions, but those of us that WANTED a challenge had the option to do em.. and indeed it was a challenge alright..
and dont even get me started on fighting bahamut (never took on version 2 btw) or how hard Salvage and Dynamis were before people finally learned what to do, or taking on the dynamis lord, but again all those were optional and not necessary/vital to enjoy the game
so yeah FFXIV can cater to the casual player will still offering option challenges for those of us like myself who wanna get in a battle every now and then thats gonna make me sweat.