In a nutshell, Kixeye has hit the wall of diminishing incremental benefit for time spent playing the game (...and this has been the case for some time).
When you look at the time needed to play the game to obtain units... and combine that with the time needed to obtain resources and wait for units to build, you see what is pretty much no longer a game but a full time job in order to maintain a level of competitiveness that keeps up with not only the reported cheaters that play but also the complexity of the game.... and, you can forget including ANY player versus player time spent in a the game.
Complexity of the game is a double edged sword... the more complex the game makes the game challenging but also makes the game frustrating and a black hole of effort. It makes players feel like a hamster in a cage running but gaining no ground.
The focus of the game is obviously (and has been) dedicated to creating more and more revenue through unit generation and operations rather than through play and learning the complexity of the game. As a result, frustration is the new symptom of players who find the amount of time commitment to be to challenging to the point of diminishing return. Therefore, interest in the game becomes less and not more along with revenue and growth. The feeling of getting "left behind" in upgrades becomes the dominate factor rather than willingness to obtain the upgrades.
It would be nice if Kixeye would allow more reasonable time between operations where that players could learn HOW TO USE the units at hand... rather than increase the number of units and upgrades.
This is more than the operations being "too difficult" or taking far too much time to play.. it is about the basic direction that Kixeye has chosen as it business model to generate income. It is an obvious focus on revenue (i.e., the "books") of the game rather than the gaming environment. Very similar to a business raising prices without any concern for the very infrastructure that makes it a viable business. It would be like opening a store and raising the prices because you are selling less and less instead of looking at the store's structure and the shopping inventory itself. The shopping environment is as important as the revenue generated. And, that is why cheating has such a exponentially increasing significant negative impact on the gaming environment. As well as, the fact that Kixeye has never extended the time to play the operations to match the increased degree of difficulty. A business can not just keep increasing prices (time) without regard to the gaming environment in which the revenue is generated.
If Kixeye wants to maintain it's side show carnival game type business model... it needs to evaluate not only how the revenue is generated but how it plans to maintain FUTURE revenue if the game is weighted in favor of short term revenue generation rather than long term planning for future player generation. Unfortunately, I feel that Kixeye places too little concentration of effort into the longer term implications of putting unreasonable time limits on unit upgrades, production or obtaining. Instead, it seems to prefer running head on into a game with diminishing return and the perception of fraud-like expectations from it's players.
Without consideration of the gaming environment (rather than just revenue)... the "will to play" any game takes on more emphasis.