Is D&D "in real life"? I honestly cannot believe you are making this argument.
Playing D&D is real life and when people are talking about being "punished" I assume they are talking about being punished as a player while playing the game "in real life" because they chose to play a fighter.
The person I responded to also used the example of a Chicke Teryaki sandwich, which I assume was a real life example as well. I assume he was not talking about his character walking into a tavern and ordering a Chicken Taryaki sandwhich.
I assume they are not suggesting their character is being punished. I am assuming that people are claiming that players are being punished while playing the game of D&D. The is directly analogous to playing the game of basketball.
Your arguments have done much the same. "X was more fun in its game than Y was in its game" absolutely has no data whatsoever to back it up, and can be refuted by what little data we actually have, including things like explicit statements from the developers themselves who recognized issues with how they implemented things.
No, there is data to back up the idea that 5E is better than 4E. It is vastly more popular and the majority of people who have played both agree that 5E is better.
There is also anecdotal data which shows Fighters in 5E are vastly popular, to include by experienced players who presumably know they are underpowered compared to other classes. That data is limited and anecdotal and does not actually prove
anything, but it certainly implies
playing a "weak" fighter does not hurt the players doing it and it is data that we can use and draw inferences.
On the other hand here is no actual data at all to indicate players are punished for playing fighters.
When it comes to players being overshadowed or "punished" for playing a fighter I am very confident this is not a widespread or common problem in the game. I am confident of that for three reasons:
1. There is no actual empirical data to support the theory.
2. The anecdotal data we have (discussed above) does not prove anything but implies it is not the case
3. In the past 5 years I have played in 21 campaigns, including 12 that were completed end-to-end from tier 1 to tier 3 or beyond and I have played with 15 DMs (including myself) and well over 100 players from at least 8 different countries. I have seen a number of players be overshadowed or "punished" for a variety of reasons, including DM mistakes and including DM mistakes I made personally. But I have never once seen a player be overshadowed or punished because he or she was playing a fighter. Given the sheer volume of games I have played it is extremely unlikely that I would have not have witnessed it if it was in fact a problem at any significant level.
BUT ALL CLASSES COST THE SAME IN D&D.
No they don't. Some classes cost more in time and an artificer costs more in both time and money.
Further the cost is irrelevant because people choose what class to play. If Wizard is a better value you are free to chose that.
This is no different than if Subway raised the price of a Veggie Delight so it was the same price as a Chicken Terriyaki. You are still free to pick the Veggie Delight even though it is not as "good a sandwich"
You have one menu. Everyone pays exactly the same amount to get something from that menu: one class (at least to start), one race, one background. Why should people who just happen to like wearing bathrobes and shouting weird words get great physical prowess and tons of special extra bonus rewards while people who like chainmail and weapons and physical fitness get just great physical prowess and nothing else?
Because that is the character they want to play. Plain and simple and anyone who chooses to play a fighter can play that character instead.
A better question is why shouldn't they? Why should you be able to tell someone they can't do something when the rules say they can?
If the menu has a veggie delight and a Chicken Tereyaki and they are the same price does that mean I can complain to subway and demand meat on my Veggie delight because it is the same price? No I can order the Chicken if I want meat.
D&D presents its options as commensurate. Nowhere--not one single place--will say that Wizards are just objectively more powerful than Fighters. If you can present even one single quote from the books that explicitly says this, I will gladly and instantly surrender
You won't find a single place where it will objectively say all classes are equal or balanced either.
While I can't be explicit, I will provide some implicit support for my argument:
PHB page 112: "Wizards are supreme magic users"
They are "supreme" because it says so in the PHB. That puts them above all Clerics, Druids, Warlocks, Artificers, Sorcerers, Rangers and Paladins. It also puts them above Wild Magic Barbarians, Eldritch Knight Fighters and Arcane Trickster Rogues.
Supreme is a strong word, and all the classes and subclasses I listed above are magic users.
People like balance...when it serves a useful function. But to know that it serves a function, and agree that that function is useful, is a nontrivial thing.
I don't think this is true. I think people claim and perhaps think they like balance but don't actually like it once it is implemented.
Moreover the suggestions to "balance" the classes will never actually balance them. If you really want to balance fighters with Wizards then give fighter spells .... lots of spells. That would achieve actual balance, and if people really and truely want balance that is the way to do it.
What? Since when is liking "having martial skill and not using magic" equivalent to being absolutely 100% in love with the mechanical characteristics of the 5e Fighter as it exists?
Because they chose to play that class. If I am to accept your position then people purposefully choose to play classes they don't like to play. That makes no sense.