Here are my two cents as a somewhat average emacs user (then I'll butt out and let you all decide what you want to do).
I have around 30 packages that I install through ELPA. Since this is pretty unwieldy, I have these all configured using the "use-package" macro, which will automatically download missing packages and `require' them as necessary. This makes installations on new machines really simple.
However, since AUCTeX doesn't have any (require 'auctex) line, use-package will fail and AUCTeX won't install. That means that out of the 30 packages I have, I am required to install AUCTeX manually. Now that I know that AUCTeX will work when you just install it, it is indeed not too hard to get AUCTeX working. However, my main hangup in this whole issue is that I expected AUCTeX to work like all the other packages I use.
So it's not that AUCTeX is hard to install per se, it's just that it's different than all the other 30 packages that I use. This, in my experience, has always made AUCTeX confusing to me in the past.
Whatever you decided to do, thanks for all your work on this.