Is it harder to get to the HN front page now than it used to be? This is a very difficult question to answer. Are points on HN worth less today than they used to be? This is easier to answer yes.
Here's a graph showing the median score of HN front page submissions over time. The dots represent the median score of a front-page submission in a given month, with the orange line (6-month rolling average) showing the general trend. The grey area represents the upper and lower quartiles of front-page scores.
The median today, in 2018, is around 150 points double what it was when I joined the site in 2011. With a bit of hand-waving, we might be able to claim that "HN points are worth half as much in 2018 as they were in 2011".
I'm not sure what's caused these patterns it's hard to find good, easily-accessible proxies for Hacker News visitor counts and user counts Google Trends doesn't shed much light into these things.
I have a feeling that counting distinct users seen in the BigQuery dataset over time could be a good proxy for user count, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the data-savvy reader :)