I've seen this process over and over again for the last 30 years… I think this has to do with the dynamics of social interactions, and how this interactions make people optimize things other than users happiness and keeping things simple. There are huge evolutionary forces that somehow if we don't consciously fight them can lead us into this kind of mess over and over again, but somehow it's something that you will see a couple of times in your life. Pity but kind of inevitable, what we can do is rant a little each time that it happens, so we can discover the ones that recognize this madness and more important identify the ones the others in order not to and try to maintain our sanity.
So time and time again I ask people what are you optimizing? and most of the time is not user happiness and simplicity.