I think you are making a poor assumption based on no facts. If anything given the recent rise in sales as Minecraft has gone more mainstream the number of players wanting 'difficult survival' has probably dropped.
I'll reserve judgement until I see the lantern pattern that will really give us an idea of whats gonig on here. It is always possible the pattern will be tough to produce and was introduced as a means of slowing down gameplay to keep users playing.. I know not a pleasent thought but possible.
What this game really needs is a reason to play against the monsters. Right now monsters provide only some tension and it can be overcome with simple patience and time. What Notch needs to do is make mobs actually mean something, right now they are pointless, the torch change will not make them suddenly important just more annoying. Having spent several weeks on Hard I realized the other day it was pointless as it only slowed down the fun of exploring a randomly generated world.
What we need is a quest system, like kill X number of monsters and get a stack of iron or a diamond or a quest were a special compass is spawned that points you to the location of a unique super difficult mob that you kill will give you X special materials or diamonds.
Looking for meaningful game-play in an alpha-stage game is what makes your opinion's pointless. I can't understand why people on this forum expect a finished product out of an alpha game. The updates he's doing for Halloween will greatly increase suspense and tension (for those weak of heart, anyways. I think they'll just make for cool updates, personally) for a game that currently has no meaningful-tasks.
Find a new game until this one is finished, otherwise grow up and quit with the torch QQ. (This is directed to everyone, no one specific)