I don't think this is an "either/or" situation. I think it is legitimately both.
If we look at the Steam Hardware Survey and look at the top 10 GPUs, the GPU with the highest rating is...a GeForce 1650. 50% of the top 10 are GPUs that are two generations behind current. If we look at CPUs, unfortunately the SHS does not break out by model but by core counts and Ghz. In that case, 6 cores and 4 cores are the predominant CPUs running at 2.9Ghz or less. 16GB or less is the mean average for RAM.
So, a system with a 1000 series card with a moderate CPU and running 16GB or less is the mean average according to Steam.
Yes, developers can push the envelope and some should. However, not all developers are doing that and Jedi Survivor 2: Cal Finally Gets Laid
is certainly not among them. What we see most is poor optimization because, let's face it, the PC is an "also ran" when compared to consoles. As long as it runs, ship it! Then there's the mentality of "we'll just patch it later". I am going to note that I am excluding really small devs here because many of them are in situations where they have to ship because they have no more money with which to develop their game and hope sales will generate enough profit to keep working on it.
I have a fairly decent system and JS2 ran like garbage on my box until after the first big patch. It is well above the specs that EA released and I played it in 1080p. CP2077 also ran like a lame three legged dog with plentiful examples of poor performance and even poorer optimization when it was released. The excuse of "Well it ran fine for meeee" is not a defense when there are far more counterpoints where it does not for a larger majority of purchasers.
On the other hand, we are also in a terrible global financial climate where it isn't feasible for a lot of people to upgrade their machines every year, every two years, or even every three years. First we had "supply chain issues" which caused GPU prices to skyrocket and then came greedflation across all sectors. Rent and food, for example, are 40% higher on average than they were this time last year with no corresponding increase in wages. So even if people wanted to upgrade, most are in a position where they simply can't when they're barely making do with keeping the lights on, food on the table, and a roof over their head. Add to that the stupid idea of "Let's jack game prices up to $70 in the middle of some of the worst financial times for the average person" and you have a recipe for less hardware being sold, less titles being purchased, and a much slower refresh cycle. I look at work, which has plenty of cash, and we're now pushing machines to be emplaced for 7 years. 7 years! We used to swap them out every 3!
Finally, we're now relying on brute strength to accomplish things instead of solid code. It's not just gaming, it's everywhere
. Games, applications, and OSes are dealing with a staggering amount of bloat. The concept of KISS has been completely abandoned in the blind rush for ever higher levels of "more". Does your word processor really need to connect to the net for telemetry, "features", and resources you will likely never use? No, but it is going to anyway and it is going to make sure that all of that is running all the time in case you accidentally hit a button or key combo so it's right there in your face in microseconds. It's absurd.
We have to look at the whole picture instead of relying on pat "Get gud scrub" replies and thinking that somehow makes a valid point.
"Just take a look around you, what do you see? Pain, suffering, and misery." -Black Sabbath, Killing Yourself to Live.
“Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau